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The University Magazine

Unique color science Ph.D. program is launched

In fall 2007, RIT will offer a new doctoral degree in color science, the only one of its kind in the United States. This field blends physics, chemistry and visual perception, among other sciences, to quantify how the human eye perceives color to translate color into scientific data.

“You look around and you see a chromatic world,” says Roy Berns, program coordinator and the Richard S. Hunter Professor of Color Science, Appearance and Technology at RIT. “We put numbers on those perceptions important for commerce as well as for using color as scientific data. We study how changes in the building blocks of color, such as lighting, materials and the observer, change those perceptions and change those numbers.”

Rendition of color spectrum
This rendition of the color spectrum allows some insight into how a digital camera system reads color in what looks like discrete regions of red, green and blue. (Image courtesy Mark Fairchild)

A variety of industries depend on color science research, especially manufacturing, printing, photography and cinema, computer graphics and animation and medical data visualization and diagnoses.

The doctorate in color science is an extension of the existing imaging science graduate program offered by RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science. It is designed for students with undergraduate majors in physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, engineering, experimental psychology, and imaging, as well as textiles, graphic arts, animation, material science and polymer science.

Students will learn how to address problems in the measurement, production, formulation, reproduction and perception of color. The curriculum combines required courses in color science, elective courses, a research project during the second year of study and a dissertation.

This will allow us to have a wider variety of students from more diverse educational backgrounds because it expands the range of research we can do with students,” says Mark Fairchild, director of the Munsell Color Science Laboratory at RIT, a leading academic laboratory dedicated to color science education and research.

Applicants to the doctoral program in color science are being accepted for fall 2007. For more information, contact Berns at berns@cis.rit.edu or 585-475-2230.

Color science is RIT’s fourth Ph.D. program. The others are imaging science (1988), microsystems engineering (2002), and computing and information sciences (2005).

Susan Gawlowicz '95