Mark Rea, former and now interim director of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), has distributed a letter providing an update on current status and future plans for the LRC. Mariana Figueiro had been director of the LRC for four years but officially left to lead a new Center for Healthy Aging at Rutgers on Sept. 1. Rea’s letter stated that the “majority of the current LRC team has decided to also join this new Center at Rutgers University.”
The LRC has been an iconic and foundationally-important research organization in the move to LED sources and solid-state lighting (SSL). We can’t list all of the lab’s accomplishments here. But here are a few important ones. Rea and his team argued for years that a two-metric scheme was required to accurately document color rendering. And ultimately the IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) TM-30 metric parallels the LRC’s work on Gamut Area Index (GAI). The LRC also did research on automotive headlamps.
And most recently, the lighting for health and wellbeing application had become front and center at the LRC. Figueiro has been the champion of the circadian stimulus (CS) metric. And Rea led the UL-backed committee that has published the DG 24480 guideline for healthy circadian lighting. Note we will have a dedicated session on the DG 24480 standard at our upcoming virtual Renaissance of Light event.
It’s the focus on lighting for health at the LRC that is at least in part the reason that Figueiro and now other researchers will move to Rutgers. In his letter, Rea noted the need to host the research at a leading medical university, whereas RPI has a decided engineering heritage. Figueiro is now on the faculty at the Rutgers Robert Woods Johnson School of Medicine as Division Chief of Sleep and Circadian Medicine in addition to heading the new Center.
Rea said he will remain interim director of LRC through the end of the year. He said the lab will fulfill its contractual obligations and also its commitment to graduate students. Plans for such a process are under development and will be announced before the end of the year. Rea expects that he will also join the new Rutgers Center on the research faculty.
The future of the LRC name is not known at this time. But some of the lab’s research will continue at RPI. For example, Dr. Nadarajah Narendran will continue his work in the area of 3-D printing and additive manufacturing for the SSL industry. Narendran has presented his team’s wok at Strategies in Light for several consecutive years, and will do so again in 2021. Moreover, he was deeply involved in much of the LRC’s important work over the years.
This transition of the LRC mission to Rutgers marks the end of a somewhat tumultuous five years at the lab. Back in 2016, Rea took a one-year research sabbatical, and Figueiro became interim director. But he really never reassumed the helm as director. Figueiro was named permanent director in 2017. Still, times have been tough for research labs just as they have been with LED and SSL manufacturers. Industry price erosion has reduced the money that industry could devote to research organizations.
The 32-year track record of the LRC will apparently end. Although many of the LRC team that are moving to Rutgers will still work in Troy, NY, Rea said vast resources and the Rutgers belief in translational health research make it the right place for the knowledge base to continue on the LRC’s mission.
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