The New York City Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society Announces the Three Recipients of the 2023 IESNYC Thesis Awards

by | Jul 17, 2023 | News


The New York City Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNYC) proudly presents the esteemed recipients of the 2023 IESNYC Thesis Awards, recognizing exceptional achievements in the realm of lighting design and research. This year, the IESNYC acknowledges three outstanding individuals for their exemplary work: Nirali Prajapati from the New York School of Interior Design, Lydia D. Simpson from The New School – Parsons School of Design, and Akila Udage from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – Lighting Research Center. Each recipient will receive a $2,000 award along with this significant recognition.

The IESNYC Thesis Awards serve as a platform to celebrate excellence in research and commend the passion and understanding exhibited by students in their respective fields of study. Since its inception in 2014, the IESNYC has been honoring exceptional students who demonstrate a deep commitment to their subjects and inspire others through their remarkable work.

Megan Carroll, President of the IESNYC (Lighting Services Inc), praised the recipients for their impressive achievements, stating, “The IESNYC has a strong commitment to supporting education, and I’m truly impressed by the insightful thesis projects by these students. Their dedication and deep understanding of their subjects of study are truly commendable.”

About the 2023 Thesis Awards Recipients and Their Projects

Below, you will find condensed yet informative descriptions of the exceptional projects that have captured the attention of the lighting community, showcasing the achievements of the IESNYC Thesis Award recipients:

Nirali Prajapati’s thesis, titled “Dormitory Project: Buchanan Towers,” dives into the exploration of lighting design approaches for a dormitory situated adjacent to a 170-acre arboretum at a high altitude. Prajapati’s research focuses on creating environmentally conscious lighting solutions by complying with recommended light levels, energy codes, and promoting dark sky-friendly lighting practices. By addressing the unique challenges posed by the dormitory’s location, Prajapati seeks to enhance the student living experience while fostering sustainability and harmony with the natural surroundings.

She expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “Receiving recognition for our student work through awards and scholarships significantly aids our transition into the professional world. The Thesis Award opens up opportunities for discussions and engagements with industry professionals. This project has reinforced how much more there is to learn, and I am eagerly looking forward to what the future holds.”

Lydia D. Simpson’s thesis, titled “Shining a Light on Migraines: The Effects of Spectral Power Distribution on Migraine-Related Photophobia,” delves into the profound impact of lighting on individuals suffering from migraines. Simpson’s research investigates the relationship between spectral power distribution (SPD) and migraine-related photophobia, aiming to identify lighting solutions that can alleviate discomfort and enhance the well-being of migraine sufferers. Through meticulous experimentation and analysis, Simpson explores various colors and spectrums to determine the most comfortable lighting conditions for individuals with migraines.

Simpson conveyed her gratitude, saying, “This award feels like a significant boost to my career. It is an honor to share my research and contribute to shaping how lighting can impact our health. I am proud of myself for accomplishing what I set out to do and being recognized for it on a broader scale than I expected.”

Akila Udage’s thesis, titled “Design Analysis of 3D Printed Internal Cavity Lens for Lighting Applications,” showcases the potential of additive manufacturing in revolutionizing the field of architectural lighting. Udage’s innovative research revolves around the design and manufacturing of internal-cavity flat optics for LED lighting systems using 3D printing technology. By harnessing the capabilities of additive manufacturing, Udage demonstrates the feasibility of creating intricate and customized lighting components that can optimize efficiency, improve performance, and expand design possibilities in architectural lighting.

As the third deserving recipient, Udage acknowledged the significance of the IESNYC Thesis Award, stating, “Being a recipient of the IESNYC Thesis Award is an immense honor, and I am incredibly grateful for this recognition. It validates my research, dedication, and contributions to the field of architectural lighting.”

The IESNYC Thesis Awards and associated scholarships provide invaluable support to young professionals and students, empowering them to actively participate in the advancement of lighting design and research. The recognition bestowed upon Nirali Prajapati, Lydia D. Simpson, and Akila Udage highlights their exceptional contributions, inspiring the lighting community and paving the way for future innovations in the field.

Thesis Award Recipients’ Bios:

Nirali Prajapati

Nirali Prajapati

Nirali Prajapati, a graduate with a Bachelors of Architecture in 2017, embarked on a journey in architecture and interior design, where she soon realized the importance of lighting in her projects. This realization led her to pursue a master’s degree in lighting at the New York School of Interior Design. Nirali’s passion for lighting has grown exponentially, and she now aspires to establish herself solely as a dedicated lighting designer, eager to make her mark in the field.

Lydia Simpson Headshot

Lydia Simpson

Lydia Simpson, is a recent graduate of the Parsons School of Design MFA Lighting Design program. She received a BFA in Design and Technology for Theater from the University of North Georgia and worked as a Lighting Designer in Atlanta before attending Parsons. Lydia combines her lifelong love for lighting, color, art, and healthcare to inspire and grow her lighting practice and commitment to creating healthy lighting solutions. Lydia has recently joined the Lighting Design team at Mazzetti.
Akila Udage

Akila Udage

Akila Udage is a researcher and engineer specializing in additive manufacturing optics for light fixtures. He holds a Ph.D. from the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), where his research focused on advancing 3D printing technology for antennas, thermal components, and electrical systems in solid-state lighting (SSL) luminaires. With an M.S. in Lighting from RPI and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, Dr. Udage has a solid academic background. He also brings practical experience as a project engineer and electrical engineering manager at the Port of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Dr. Akila Udage currently holds the position of a 3D printing process engineer at Align Technology, actively contributing to cutting-edge developments in additive manufacturing and optics.

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. IESNYC members 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.