ZLI PhotoSciences Research Grants Focus on Light and Life

The Zoological Lighting Institute (ZLI) now offers annual grant opportunities for early-career researchers focused on studying the importance of light conditions on organisms. ZLI offers six $500 grants across each of its three core research areas, including a special award to encourage inclusion and diversity within the sciences. These grants and others like them are necessary, as natural light is arguably the most important environmental factor for animals and ecosystems. Please apply today, or consider financially supporting ZLI in its mission to support science through the arts for animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Applications are accepted by providing information following these guidelines.  The application deadline for this year’s cycle is 1 May 2019.

ZLI Sustainable Design Grants Encourage Wildlife Sensitive Design

The ZLI Sustainable Design Grant Program seeks to encourage consideration of light and lighting within animal friendly, sustainable design fields. It will provide four (4) $1000 grants to designers in fashion, architecture and product design, including a special award to work that encourages inclusion and diversity in these fields. Sustainable and socially responsible design is incomplete without attention to animals and the biodiversity they represent. Animals and their ecosystems cannot survive without natural light occurring in natural cycles. Due to unprecedented amounts of light pollution in the environment, this now requires innovative design concepts and products to provide. The ZLI Sustainable Design Grant Program seeks to advance design in order to account properly for natural light in necessary ways that have not yet been achieved.


Karina Sanchez
University of Northern Colorado
"Sensory Ecology (light interactions with other sensory modalities)"
PhotoDiversity Award Winner
Download Proposal (PDF)
Will Pfadenhauer
Lafayette College
"Effect of Artificial Light at Night on Wood Frog Development"
Download Proposal (PDF)
Jarome Ali
Princeton University
"Plumage and behaviour in wild parrots of the New World Tropics (genus Amazona)"
Download Proposal (PDF)
Hunter Cole
Boise State University
"Exploring Artificial Light's Impacts on Bats and Insects"
Download Proposal (PDF)
Juliette Rubin
Boise State University
"Shattering the illusion: can vision circumvent an acoustic anti-bat trait?"
Download Proposal (PDF)


Avalon Owens is a Ph.D. student in the Lewis Lab at Tufts University. She obtained her B.A. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University, and a Master’s in Entomology from National Taiwan University. In Taiwan, she worked in the Yang Lab studying the impact of ambient light on the flash behavior of a local firefly, Aquatica ficta. She discovered that A. ficta respond to short wavelength (blue or green) light, but are much less sensitive to wavelengths above 590 nm (orange to red). When put under short wavelength light, these fireflies flashed less frequently, but the average intensity of their flashes increased – that is to say, they flashed more brightly so that they could still be seen against the illuminated background!

Following this exciting discovery, Avalon has thrown herself into the burgeoning field of artificial night lighting research, keeping her focus on fireflies. Under the helpful guidance of international firefly legend Sara Lewis, she has begun an in-depth investigation into the effects of light pollution on the behavior and fitness of North American fireflies. She is particularly interested in these questions:

  • What are the effects of ambient light on courtship and mating?
  • Can fireflies escape from illuminated habitats, and do they?
  • Are dusk-active fireflies more resilient to light pollution than night-active ones?
  • How do urban fireflies manage to adapt to life in light polluted habitats?

In the long term, Avalon will collaborate with the ZLI to develop firefly-friendly lighting regimes for use in public and private firefly habitats, in order to help minimize the impact of artificial light and keep affected firefly populations happy and healthy for many generations to come.

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