Building on the success and excitement of last years' centennial conference, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) restructured its 2007 Annual Conference, held from January 28-30, 2007, at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, to include a broad range of invited speakers. The official conference tagline was Light Matters: Integrating Light Into Our Visual Environments, but there was an equal focus on integrating the 8,296-person membership into the activities of the society.
At the Gala Dinner and Reception, 2006-07 IESNA President Kevin Flynn reinforced strategic changes being made by the society within three broad themes: membership with an emphasis on connections and sharing; knowledge with an emphasis on creation and facilitation; and communication with an emphasis on public outreach. The Membership and Networking Luncheons, on the first two days of the conference respectively, were both new formats designed to allow every attendee to actively participate in the conference and contribute to the society. The Membership Luncheon included a town hall-style meeting that provided an open forum for the society's leaders to answer questions from the membership. The Networking Luncheon was organized as a collection of roundtables. Prominent members of the society were invited to provide a discussion topic and act as table-hosts. Upon arrival in Phoenix, attendees selected a table with a subject of interest. The 20-plus topics included: “Should we Lose the Lumen?” hosted by lighting designer Naomi Miller, “Should the Incandescent Lamp be Banned as a General Illuminant?” hosted by 2005-06 IESNA president Dr. Alan Lewis, and “The Renovation Revelation” hosted by Cheryl English, vice president of Technical Services and Industry Relations for Acuity Brands Lighting.
Like the Centennial Conference of 2006, this year's program had a large number of invited paper presentations and seminars. The conference's success was due in large part to the number of invited speakers from outside the traditional IESNA community, important because it expands the discussion and offers a broader exchange between lighting design and allied professions. Such an instance was the opening talk by Dr. Thomas Albright, director of the Vision Center Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Dr. Albright discussed the neurophysiologic techniques used to study how the brains of rhesus monkeys process light. In another invited seminar, Dr. Michael Terman of Columbia University discussed the role of light as an antidepressant, energizer, and sleep modulator.
Human health and the photobiological aspects of light were recurring conference themes, and in other seminars lighting designer Jill Klores provided an overview of considerations when designing lighting for neonatal environments. Dr. Mariana Figueiro, an assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, summarized recent scientific studies that claim architectural lighting may influence the incidence of breast cancer and caner growth. Though there is still much work to be done to understand the inner workings of the eye-brain system, both in terms of how it governs sight and other biological functions, it is clear that a deeper understanding of human biological requirements has the potential to influence how we light the built environment.
Steps were also made to reach out to students. A student portfolio review allowed student attendees to receive feedback on their work from lighting designers Peter Hugh, Howard Brandston, and Lisa Bertolino. Plans were also announced to set up an IESNA mentoring program for emerging professionals and students. Overall the conference was a success because of the networking opportunities, lighting discussions, and up-to-the-minute technical content delivered by experts.