UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Alp Durmus, a researcher who specializes in color science, lighting quality, the visual perception of architectural spaces and next-generation lighting systems, will join the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering (AE) as assistant professor on March 16. 

He is the latest addition to the department’s lighting and electrical engineering option area group. 

“On the fundamental side of my research, I investigate visual perception and mathematical models that explain human color vision,” he said. “And on the applied sciences side, I focus on developing next-generation lighting systems that improve occupants’ well-being and visual performance.”

Durmus is currently working with a group of researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain to better understand how to reduce lighting damage to paintings in museums. Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation — a type of energy that can degrade and irreversibly damage the artwork as it is absorbed. 

“It’s possible to adjust the light source spectrum to reduce degradation in light-sensitive objects like paintings,” he said. “For example, you can illuminate blue-toned paintings with only bluish light to minimize light absorption without causing any perceivable color shifts for the viewer.”

Durmus also researches the effects of lighting on human health and collects data from realistic settings like health care centers and nursing homes. At Penn State, he hopes to collaborate with researchers from the Department of Biobehavioral Health to assess the impact of lighting on patients’ circadian rhythms and cognitive function.

He also has an interest in assessing the impact of spectral, spatial and intensity characteristics of light sources on plant growth. He said he hopes to collaborate with researchers from the Department of Plant Science at Penn State on that research pursuit. 

“I’m excited to collaborate with researchers both inside the AE department and outside of the College of Engineering,” Durmus said. “I think there will be a lot of opportunities to expand the scope of my lighting research and become interdisciplinary.”  

Durmus will head the AE department’s Lighting Laboratory, a research group that focuses on the interaction between humans and the built environment with respect to energy consumption, user interaction and environmental impacts. 

He also will teach AE courses on color science, lighting technology and research methods. 

“Alp brings a unique knowledge of innovative lighting research and color science to our department,” said Sez Atamturktur, Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and head of the Department of Architectural Engineering. “His experience working with national laboratories, research and development groups in industry, and academic researchers across the globe will be an invaluable addition for our department.” 

Durmus is currently a senior associate lighting scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Portland, Oregon, and he is an honorary associate in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney in Australia. He received his doctorate in architectural sciences from the University of Sydney.


Last Updated February 20, 2020