Mariana Figueiro
Sioux Nesi Mariana Figueiro

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has announced that Mariana Figueiro, Ph.D., has been named the new director of the Lighting Research Center. She has been serving as the center’s acting director this past year while Mark Rea, the center’s director since 1988, was on academic sabbatical. Rea will continue to be associated with RPI as professor of architecture and cognitive sciences in the School of Architecture.

“Professor Figueiro has distinguished herself as a world-renowned leader in light and health, as well as an exceptional advocate over many years for Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center,” said Evan Douglis, dean of architecture at Rensselaer. “Given her broad achievement, which has received international acclaim, as an outstanding educator, researcher, and more recently an administrative leader, she possesses the ideal profile to excel in her new role as director of the LRC. We welcome her in this new position and look forward to her future success.”

Figueiro has been with the LRC for the past 21 years. She was a student in the M.S. in lighting program, and in 2004, obtained her Ph.D. from Rensselaer. In 2006, she started on a tenure-track position as an assistant professor; in 2014, she was promoted to full professor. She has served as LRC Light and Health Program Director since 1999.

A “leading expert in the area of light and health, with a focus on bridging science to practical applications aimed at improving human quality of life, Figueiro has made a significant impact on this developing field and continues to actively expand her influence through translational research and teaching.” The press release goes on to say, “Figueiro is principal investigator of various research projects within the LRC, including two R01 grants from the National Institute on Aging and one R01 grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as grants from the U.S. General Services Administration and the Office of Naval Research. She regularly collaborates with lighting industry leaders such as Acuity Brands, Cree, Current by GE, Ketra, OSRAM, Philips Lighting, and USAI Lighting.”

The author of more than 80 scientific articles Figueiro has helped to raise the awareness of “the significance of light and health as a topic of public interest through her recent TEDMED talk, among numerous other invited presentations and outreach.”

In a prepared statement she said, “I look forward to continuing to work with our partners in industry, government, and academia, and to lead the remarkably dedicated group of LRC staff and students who work tirelessly to fulfill the LRC’s mission to advance the effective use of light for society and the environment.”

The LRC was established in 1988. Today, it supports 35 full-time faculty and staff, and 15 graduate students, in a 30,000 square foot laboratory space and “is the largest university-based lighting research and education organization in the world.” Of Figueiro’s appointment Mark Rea said, “The LRC serves as the nucleus for independent and reliable lighting research and education in a rapidly changing business and government funding environment. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the world. The future of the LRC is bright, particularly with Mariana leading.”