Lighting : Lighting June 2014 - Vol 34 Issue 3
36 LIGHTING MAGAZINE | June/July 2014 June/July 2014 | LIGHTING MAGAZINE 37 FEATURE 1. Prior to joining the University of Sydney you worked as a Vision Scientist in the Lighting and Colour Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US. Has the move to academia given you a different perspective on your area of expertise/research? My move to academia has given me a deeper appreciation for the interplay between research and education. In my opinion, an academic research program should truly lead the field, put forth radical new ideas, and take risks. It’s a pretty remarkable privilege to approach research this way. The freedom to pursue this type of work gives academics a very unique perspective on their field of study. This, in turn, influences the curriculum immeasurably. Coupled with thoughtful integration of more immediately practical educational content, the type of education that universities offer is quite special. And, of course, my interactions with students and the practitioners who lecture into the course give me important insights into the lighting industry that informs my research, often in indirect ways. It ’s a lovely symbiosis that is quite unique to a university environment. During the first two years of my position at the University of Sydney, I was given the opportunity to design and build a new research laboratory. There was no existing research agenda; I had the chance to reflect on the current state of lighting research and practice and build a vision for the future. The lab was designed to give researchers as much flexibility as possible, to facilitate truly innovative research on the application of light. In simplistic terms: I wanted to be able to conduct research on lighting technologies that haven’t been invented yet. Though research facilities are always a work-in-progress, the lab is already enabling research that isn’t limited by the commercial availability of lighting hardware. I’m so grateful that I have some brilliant students and amazing collaborators and I’m thrilled with the projects that we’ve got underway. 2. What is the most surprising thing you have learnt about lighting practice/research from your interactions with students? Some of my most surprising experiences with students have illustrated the downside to our industry’s relatively narrow emphasis on knowledge and experience. I occasionally find myself in awe of my students, many of whom are completely new to lighting. They come up with ingenuous new ways of doing things. They aren’t constrained by “the way things are done.” They aren’t intimidated by change. These characteristics are often missing in more experienced practitioners. While all lighting professionals need to have knowledge and experience, we also need to foster their capacity for innovation, critical thinking, and the ability to make connections Dr Wendy Davis: a fresh perspective The Lighting magazine asked Dr Wendy Davis about her perspective on lighting research and education in Australia. Dr Davis has been at the University of Sydney since 2012, as a relatively new addition to the academic environment in a senior educational role she has a unique view into the worlds of research and teaching. We asked her five questions, her responses provide a refreshing, reflective and thoughtful insight into: the tension between research & education; what we can learn from students; “the next big thing” for lighting (surprisingly Dr Davis doesn’t think it is related to technology); the future of lighting research in Australia and differences between the US and Australian research. between seemingly unrelated information. We should stimulate curiosity and cultivate problem-solving abilities. Too often, the acquisition of information hinders creativity and open-mindedness. I find myself in the midst of many discussions of lighting education and accessibility, which I obviously care very deeply about. As we attempt to reach more people with lighting education, we need to think carefully about the characteristics of the future lighting professionals we are training. If we focus only on knowledge and skills, we’ll create a work force of reasonably competent people who follow established procedures to complete their tasks. If we foresee future lighting practitioners as technicians, that’s a reasonable approach. But, if we want the next generation of lighting professionals to grow the field, embrace change, and be true leaders, we need to focus on a deeper type of education. 3. Here at the Lighting magazine we are very interested in disruptive technologies. One of your areas of research is applications of emerging and next-generation lighting technologies. Gazing into your crystal ball do you have any predictions for the next big thing based on your current research? Ooh, I love to play fortune teller! I have absolutely no idea when the next big thing will come around, but I have lots of ideas of what future big things might be. One suggestion that gets me excited is the use of lasers for illumination. Lasers are really efficient at generating light, which was the motivation behind the suggestion to use them for general lighting applications. But, their spectral power distributions (SPDs) make them really interesting; lasers emit very spectrally narrow light. While this characteristic poses obvious engineering challenges if we are to develop them into white illumination sources, it creates tremendous opportunity for precise specification of the spectral power distribution of light. This would not only allow us to manipulate the colour appearance of illuminated objects in unprecedented ways, but also to optimize the luminous efficacy of light sources. The conversion of electricity to light only partially determines the luminous efficacy of a light source; the spectral power Ooh, I love to play fortune teller! I have absolutely no idea when the next big thing will come around, but I have lots of ideas of what future big things might be. One suggestion that gets me excited is the use of lasers for illumination.
Lighting April 2014 - Vol 34 Issue 2
Lighting August 2014 - Vol34 Issue 4