This minor program is offered as a joint program by the Department of Biological Sciences and the Lighting Research Center.
Light-dark patterns that reach the back of our eyes set the timing of the biological clock, and tell our bodies to do “the right thing at the right time.” A global lighting revolution is taking place because of the awareness of how profound the impact of light is in our daily lives. Humans and most terrestrial species perceive the time of day because of their internal biological or circadian clock. This circadian clock is a network of genes and proteins that regulates daily oscillations such as sleep, hormone release, rise and fall of blood pressure and body temperature, as well as other cellular functions and physiological responses. Because of this tight regulation, a disrupted circadian clock can be detrimental to daily function and human health, as evidenced by the increased rates of disease in nightshift workers and submariners, known to experience circadian disruption. Tailored lighting intervention, on the other hand, helps adolescents fall asleep earlier, premature infants be discharged from the hospital sooner, Alzheimer’s disease patients sleep better, and cancer patients experience less fatigue. Because the light people are exposed to can have a profound impact on the proper timing of their circadian clocks, it is important to effectively specify, measure and apply lighting in the built environment. It is also important to understand how various species (human, mammals, and plants) respond to light. This minor will provide the foundation to understand the basic principles of how to specify, measure, and apply light to positively impact various species, and to work side-by-side with leading experts in the field in a professional project. This minor requires four courses with a minimum of 15 credits.