Grantee: Mariana Figueiro

Mariana Figueiro

Mariana Figueiro, PhD

Lighting Scientist
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dr. Figueiro is passionate about investigating how light can be used as a non-pharmacological treatment to promote health and well-being and improve people's lives. Growing evidence indicates that exposure to irregular patterns of light and darkness can cause the human circadian system to fall out of synchrony with the 24-hour solar day, negatively affecting human health. However, scientists have struggled to effectively study the relationship between circadian disruptions and human maladies. Dr. Figueiro strives to better understand how the retina converts light signals into neural signals for the circadian system. Her research efforts have contributed to the development of important tools and insightful analyses to systematically and quantitatively characterize circadian light and circadian disruption in humans.

Dr. Figueiro collaborates with leaders in the medical, manufacturing, and architectural design communities and translates her findings into treatments and devices to improve our modern living environments. Through laboratory research and field studies, Dr. Figueiro has demonstrated how light treatment can be used to improve sleep in Alzheimer's disease patients, increase alertness and performance in submariners, reduce circadian disruption in shift workers, and help adolescents fall asleep earlier for improved alertness and performance in school. Dr. Figueiro's efforts to bridge science and application will enable better use of light to promote improved health in an energy-efficient environment.

Light isn't just for vision. Light touches every aspect of our lives and can have a profound impact on our health and well-being. My research tool is a gift that Nature gives us daily: the sunrise and the sunset.”

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