IESNYC Announces Courtney Francis and Yun-Hsuan Tsai as 2023 Merit Scholarship Recipients

by | Apr 28, 2023 | News


New York City – The Illuminating Engineering Society of New York City (IESNYC) is proud to announce that Courtney Francis and Yun-Hsuan Tsai have been selected as the recipients of the 2023 IESNYC Merit Scholarship. This year’s selection process was highly competitive, with two exceptional candidates. As a result, the committee made the rare decision to award two recipients, supporting each of them financially with a $12,500 Merit Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to full-time, graduate degree candidates in architectural lighting, enrolled in an accredited college or university in New York State.

The two outstanding recipients share a common passion for architectural lighting and energy and despite coming from different backgrounds, they have been united by their desire to expand their knowledge and skills in the lighting field and contribute to its growth.

Courtney Francis is currently a candidate in the Master of Professional Studies in Lighting Design program at the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID). Pursuing a degree in this field she sees as an opportunity to broaden her perspective, learn about new technologies and techniques that could be applied to her work, and strive towards her long-term professional goal of educating others and sharing her knowledge and expertise. “Being chosen as a recipient of the IESNYC Merit Scholarship to support my studies at NYSID is an immense honor, and I am incredibility grateful for this opportunity. It’s inspiring to be part of a community that values education and invests in the growth of its members,” Francis states.

“Courtney brings polish and professionalism to every project at NYSID. Her designs have exhibited strong lighting choices, supported by sections and mounting details, incredible renderings, and visualizations,” says Shaun Fillion, LC, Educator IALD, MIES, Program Director | MPS-L Lighting. “She presents with a narrative style that is professional and client ready. She is confident in her skills, specific in her design choices, and if she keeps this up will doubtless receive Illumination and Lumen awards in the future.”

Yun-Hsuan Tsai, enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts Lighting Design program at Parsons, was inspired to pursue her studies in architectural lighting and energy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I realized the importance of the home environment and wanted to enhance people’s quality of life through my design,” says Tsai. She has demonstrated her leadership skills through her ability to cohere a community to strive for a mutual goal. Tsai plans to gather students from the lighting community and related fields to discuss critical issues and maximize the impact and potential of architectural lighting and energy.

“As a double major student in lighting design and interior design, Yun-Hsuan embodies one of the principal emphases of the Parsons lighting design program – interdisciplinarity”, says Craig Bernecker, Professor of Lighting Design and Director of the MFA Lighting Design program at Parsons School of Design. “Moreover, her experience as a theatrical lighting designer during the pandemic ultimately led her to address issues of sustainability, equity and social justice in lighting design, other principles close to the Parsons lighting program.  As such, Yun-Hsuan is an ideal representative of the lighting program and will be an ideal contributor to the lighting profession in New York and beyond.” 

The IESNYC advocates strongly for lighting education and inspires the next generation of lighting professionals and future leaders. Other important initiatives include the annual IESNYC Thesis Awards, the Student Lighting Competition, as well as several year-round educational programs. Tsai and Francis join seven past Merit Scholarship awardees:

“As a fervent supporter of ’academic philanthropy,’ the IESNYC is pleased to present scholarships to emerging professionals from Parsons and NYSID. Both young women stood out amongst the pool of submittals from their peers. Congratulations to Yun-Hsuan and Courtney. We can’t wait to see where they go from here,” says Megan Carroll, LC, MIES, President of the IESNYC | Lighting Services Inc.

About the recipients:

Courtney Francis is a skilled lighting designer currently working at ILC Studios. She started her career in lighting design at MODUS Engineering and Trivalent Lighting Studios in Iowa after obtaining a BFA in Interior Design from Iowa State University in 2015. At RDG Planning & Design, she honed her expertise and developed a keen eye for detail in lighting design. Currently, she is pursuing her Master of Professional Studies in Lighting Design from the New York School of Interior Design while working remotely from her home in Wisconsin. Courtney is passionate about creating lighting systems that enhance and complement the built environment.

Yun-Hsuan Tsai began her lighting design journey in theater and graduated from the department of Drama and Theater at the National Taiwan University in Taiwan. Joining the MFA lighting design program at the Parsons School of Design in 2022, she is now a New York-based lighting designer with extensive experience in architectural, theatrical, exhibition, and photography lighting design projects. As a creator and designer with an interdisciplinary background in art, literature, and sociology, she is dedicated to integrating humanistic care and aesthetic pursuit into her works.

About the IESNYC

IESNYC ( is the New York City Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society.  The IESNYC is a volunteer professional membership organization whose members share a mutual appreciation for and fascination with all things lighting. They are lighting designers, architects, engineers, consultants, lighting manufacturers, lighting representatives, electrical distributors, and allied professionals. IESNYCmembers are dedicated to promoting the art and science of illumination engineering to their members, professionals, the lighting industry, and the public through inspiring events, informative programs and educational series, social outreach, and networking opportunities.