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Reaching the pinnacle of success

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If a Great Horned Owl lands on your arm, chances are you are
either dreaming or on vacation in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the sport of falconry is a cultural heritage. That’s where Roy Berns was when a five-pound owl jumped onto his forearm at Dalhousie Castle Falconry. 

Tourists handle trained raptors at the enclosure associated with the 13th century castle outside of Edinburgh, where Berns stayed for three nights in July with his wife, Susan, and daughter, Abby.

Their first stop was 
contemporary Newcastle on Tyne, England, for the meeting of the International Colour Association, where Berns was honored with the Deane B. Judd Award for a lifetime 
of outstanding contributions to the field of color science. 

“I’ve been seeing people get this award since ’83, and many of them have been my big idols,” says Berns, the Richard S. Hunter Professor in Color Science, Appearance and Technology in the Munsell Color Science Laboratory in RIT’s College 
of Science.

The award marks the pinnacle 
of a career still in progress. After 
accepting the medal, Berns gave a 
talk based on the book he is working on, Color Science for the Visual Arts.

“It’s leading to new intellectual ground for me, with the potential for new contributions to color technology and engineering—pretty special as 
an outcome from a book for artists,” 
he says.

The interactive iBook will compare images, such as van Gogh’s The Bedroom. Berns simulated the original canvas based on real pigment information for the Van Gogh Museum in 2010 and again this June, based on new analytical data pointing to bold contrasts of 
purple—not blue—and yellow. 

“The exhibition ‘Van Gogh at Work’ includes a display showing the images 
I created and explaining the fading,” Berns says. “The color changes are dramatic.”

Video Extra: Roy Berns explains his color science work on The Bedroom: