Katharina's Photon Space. See katlab.org

A Light Collaboration Network weekend in Umeå

The committee of the Light Collaboration Network (LCN) met recently in person for the first time during a long weekend in Umeå, Sweden.

Umeå was the location of the first in-person meeting of the Light Collaboration Network (LCN) committee in March 2022. The meeting was an opportunity to both look back on the first full year of LCN activities and to agree on priorities for the future.

Apart from Katharina Wulff who is based at Umeå University, the committee members all live and work in more southerly parts of Sweden and were also keen to experience the wintry weather at this time of year.

Hillevi Hemphälä meets huskies

“It’s been so nice to actually meet everyone and to sit and reflect on the progress that we have made as a group since we conceived the idea of the LCN. It’s also given us the motivation to continue and expand our activities to encourage collaboration between everyone working with light.”

Hillevi Hemphälä

A study visit to the Photon Space

Committee members enjoyed a study visit to Katharina’s Photon Space, a research location an hour’s drive inland from Umeå, which is hosted at Granö Beckasin. Constructed with a full glass exterior the space is fully insulated and inside it resembles a comfortable hotel room with all the facilities required to welcome research participants for up to three days at a time.   

Everyone took the chance to sleep in the Photon Space, though not on this occasion as scientific subjects!

Katharina's Photon Space. See katlab.org

The Katlab Photon Space at Granö Beckasin

Measuring in the Photon Space

Comparing measuring equipment

“The space exposes participants to natural light conditions with the aim of researching sleep and circadian rhythm regulation linked to exposure to natural and artificial light.  What fascinates me in having the space at this high latitude is the opportunity to study the effect that seasonality, the predictable change in daylight length, has on those body rhythms.”

Katharina Wulff

Being in the photon space with just moonlight to go by, you really realise how amazing the human eye is and how little light we need to complete tasks if we give ourselves the time to adapt to the dark. I slept very well, though that was probably more down to the poor night’s sleep I’d had on train from Lund the night before!

Johannes Lindén

Enjoying the daylight

Beyond the study visit and formal and informal discussions, there was also time to try out some snowy activities, including dog sledding a sauna followed by a dip in a frozen lake and a guided snowshoe walk.

Myriam, Katharina, Johannes, Ute and Hillevi

The LCN Committee went dogsledding

Additional co-opted team members

 “The visit also underlined why it’s exciting to be a light researcher in Sweden. Light conditions vary so much from north to south throughout the year and there is such a well-developed academic landscape which allows for cross-discipline research, something which we wish to encourage within Sweden but also beyond.”  

Ute Besenecker
Myriam meets the dogs

 “A particular highlight of the weekend was the display of aurora borealis we got to enjoy on Friday night, something which of course was on our wish list for the weekend but which was never guaranteed. Our joyous response to it was a reminder that light affects all of us, all of the time and of why it’s such an interesting area of research.” 

Myriam Aries

Future plans

Many inspiring topics were discussed along with possibilities for long- and short-term LCN activities and the hope is that the LCN will be able to arrange more physical events where connections can be established and real networking can flourish.   

LCN Committee in Vindeln

At the river in Vindeln with LCN team member Stuart Wales

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