Human circadian rhythm regulation is linked to many physiological processes, including sleep. Circadian disruption is known to have negative impacts on health and may lead to lower human performance and higher risk of failure during critical tasks.  By understanding the relationships between human circadian processes, sleep processes, and cognitive performance, improved management of lighting and task scheduling can be developed to favorably impact overall human health and performance.

LESA’s Professors John Wen and Agung Julius were recently awarded a $450,000 / 3 year contract from the DoD’s Army Research Office (ARO) for advanced research in personalized task and sleep scheduling based on circadian rhythm regulation.  The goal of the new research effort, entitled A Quantitative Approach to Biochronicity of Circadian Rhythm, Sleep, and Neurobehavioral Performance, is to determine personalized optimal strategies for circadian rhythm regulation and scheduling of tasks and sleep to optimize mental performance of mission performers.

This research builds on previous LESA research on the control mechanics of human circadian regulation and sleep processes. This new work will develop advanced models and algorithms for optimizing the mental alertness for individual mission performers.  These personalized strategies will integrate the individual’s biometric data for optimizing sleep and task scheduling with customized lighting exposure.  The development of personal strategies to optimize performance and alertness will have significant impact in the high stress military environment.  Civilian applications are also important for workers serving healthcare and manufacturing industries where 24/7 shift work environments are common.

John Wen and Agung Julius are faculty members of the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  John Wen is Head of Industrial Systems Engineering and Professor of Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  Agung Julius is an Associate Professor in Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

About the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) ERC

Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the LESA ERC is an interdisciplinary, multi-university center developing “Smart Lighting Systems that See and Think™”.  The Center engages faculty members, graduate students, research staff, and undergraduates to work on research leading to smart lighting systems with adaptive and controllable properties that will change the way society uses lighting.  The Center joins academia, industry, and government in partnership to produce transformational engineered systems, along with engineering graduates who are adept at innovation and primed for leadership in the global economy.  The LESA ERC is headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and partners with Boston University, The University of New Mexico, and Thomas Jefferson University to achieve its objectives.


About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute is has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science “to the common purposes of life.” For more information, please visit