Sylvia Pont

Topic: Women in Photonics Lunch

Sylvia Pont
TU Delft

Ecological optics: light, material and appearance in natural environments


How can we communicate the looks and feel of materials and shapes? Ecological (real-world) optics concerns the study of the optics of natural materials (f.i. concrete, oranges, or textiles), light in natural scenes (f.i. the classroom, the Mekelpark or a shop), and their interactions – resulting in certain “appearances”. This is concerned with complicated and a wide range of optical phenomena. We combine such optical studies in “the wild” with psychophysical experiments to understand how we perceive natural materials and light. Integrating optical and perceptual knowledge with design methods allows doing scientifically informed design of lighting plans, tools, products and material communication.


Sylvia Pont graduated in Experimental Physics (1993, Amsterdam University). She received her PhD (1997, Utrecht University) for a thesis on haptic perception. 1997-1999 she studied computer aids at Visio, and 1999 returned to Utrecht University to investigate ecological optics. Since 2008 she coordinates the TUDelft Perceptual Intelligence lab, working on real-world perception problems, combining design, perception and physics of light and materials.