Steve Fotios

Professor Steve Fotios

Professor of Lighting and Visual Perception

2015 CIE Waldram Gold Pin Distinguished Services Award


T: +44 (0)114 222 0371
F: +44 (0)114 222 0315

I have taught in the School of Architecture since 2005, having previously taught at UMIST (1993-1998), Robert Gordon University (1999-2000) and Sheffield Hallam (2000-2005). I supervise research of lighting; how does lighting affect our perception of space and our ability to perform visual tasks.

I place a strong emphasis on methodology and how the manner in which experimental procedures will bias the outcome: this lead to the establishment of CIE technical committee TC1-80 to identify best practise in experimental procedures, and to LumeNet, a methodology conference for PhD students.

Teaching Activities

My teaching discusses heating, ventilation and lighting services using a bottom-up approach, questioning firstly whether there is a need for particular services, and then whether provision be met through design of the building form and format – a mixture of conservation and passive approaches. Is it possible for dwellings in the UK to be comfortable in winter without mechanical heating systems?

Of course in many situations mechanical systems are needed, and thus services are discussed to give the architect sufficient ideas for practice: what services are needed, where are the main items located and what size are they, and what questions should I ask the building services consultant? These ideas are delivered through lectures and tutorials for studio projects. Currently, my teaching centres on two areas:

  • Supervision of PhD students investigating lighting
  • Part I and II: Environmental design - lighting

This is what a former student thought of my teaching:

"Of course, any new housing wouldn’t be complete without insulation and central heating! This was the first time we have ever done a detailed services task and I think my naivety probably came through as this assignment took far longer than anticipated! However, Steve Fotios – a very enthusiastic module leader who remained passionate about every type of radiator, ventilation system and water system – had produced detailed notes which were a massive help! It is also worth mentioning that this submission wouldn’t have been the same without our very own tutorials from an ARUP engineer!"

(Retrieved on 28/01/2015)

Administrative Roles

REF coordinator for the School of Architecture

Research Interests

I am interested in lighting, visual perception and visual performance, for electric lighting and daylighting.

Questions include:

  • Lighting for pedestrians and cyclists: how does lighting affect safe movement and perceived safety?
  • Approaches for establishing appropriate lighting conditions in design guidance.
  • User-control over light levels as a means of maintaining satisfaction
  • The influence of test procedure on the results of an experiment – unintentional experimental bias.

Postgraduate Research Supervision Interests

Research in lighting for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists; research methods for visual psychophysics.

Research Assistants

Chris Cheal: PhD student (9/2003 to 8/2006): RA (2007 to present). Chris supports experimental research in the lighting and acoustics labs. He has developed novel apparatus for measuring visual responses – brightness, obstacle detection and eye tracking.

Jim Uttley: (11/2015 - 2018): Lighting for pedestrians and cyclists. Jim’s background in psychology makes him an excellent advisor for experimental work we do.

Current research students

Khalid Hamoodh (2018-): Lighting for pedestrians – how de we evaluate other people?
Intisar Hussain (2017-): Window design - the conflict between daylight and privacy.
Choon Yew Chang: Assessing the quality of view through windows.
Hussain Qasem (2014- ): Lighting for cyclists
Zeynep Keskin (2014 - ): Sunlight, daylight and interior design
Choon Yew Chang
Yichong Mao (2017- ): Lighting for pedestrian – objective tasks
Aleks Liachenko-Monteiro (2016- ): Lighting for pedestrians – subjective evaluations.
Scott Fox (2017 - ): Lighting for drivers

Past PhD students

Oscar Preciado (2008 – 2016): passive approaches to thermal comfort in low income housing in Mexico.
James Uttley (2012 - 2016): Establishing light levels for pedestrians
Oscar Preciado (2008 - ): Passive dwelling design in Hermosillo, Mexico
Biao Yang (2011 - 2014): Recognition of facial expressions under road lighting
Jemima Unwin (2011 - 2014 ): Road lighting and reassurance for pedestrians
Adorkor Konaugh (2010 - 2014): Environmental factors leading to window opening/closing action
Deniz Atli (2010 - 2014 ): Lamp spectrum and spatial brightness
Ida Gohardoust Monfared (2011- 2013): Investigating bias in POE questionnaires
Wael Sheta (2007-2012): Passive cooling techniques for a dwelling in Cairo
Satta Panyakaew (2006-2012): Using agricultural waste as a thermal insulation material in Thailand
Tharinee Ramasoot (2006–2010): Investigation of lighting and disturbing reflections on display screens: A new model for judging acceptability
Alison Ching-Lan Chang (2005–2009): Wayfinding in unfamiliar environments
Navaz Davoudian (2004–2007): Saliency of urban objects: the effects of proximity and density of background objects

Grants, Awards and Consultancy

HAROLD: HAzards, ROad Lighting and Driving. EPSRC grant ref EP/S004009/1, £578,684, January 2019 to June 2022

Impairment To Peripheral Detection When Driving. Experiments Investigating The Effect Of Fog And The Transition Between Lit And Unlit Sections Of Road. Project funded by Highways England under TTEAR Work Package 584 – Impact of Road Lighting Review; 1st February 2016 to 31st March 2017

MERLIN-2: Further empirical evidence of lighting for pedestrians. £454,085. EPSRC award to S Fotios, June 2015.

MERLIN: Mesopically Enhanced Road Lighting: Improving Night-vision. £417,588. EPSRC award to S Fotios, March 2011.

Lighting for the classroom of the future; acceptability of screen glare. £31,009. EPSRC award to S Fotios (PI) & R Parnell (CI), May 2008.

Street Lighting: A metric for specifying white light. £172,936. EPSRC award to S Fotios, June 2008.

Obstacle Detection: Investigating the effects of source type and luminance. £26,780. Philips Lighting sponsored project, June 2007.

Research into the effects of road surface material on road lighting performance. £33,002. Department for Transport sponsored project, January 2005.

Research into the circuit wattage of discharge lamps used in public lighting. £30,282. Department for Transport sponsored project, June 2004.

Purchase of a spectroradiometer. £34,276. EPSRC award to S Fotios, July 2004.

White Light: an investigation of the perception of exterior lighting. £137,665. EPSRC award to S Fotios, June 2003.

Professional Standing and Distinctions


  • Associate Editor of the editorial board of Lighting Research & Technology
  • Associate Editor for Leukos
  • Reviewer for Building & Environment, Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, Journal of Environmental Psychology


Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP)

  • Chairman of white light committee (2007-2008): produced ILE Technical Report TR29: White Light, 2008.
  • Chairman of ILP mesopic lighting committee (2009-2012): produced PLG03, Lighting for Subsidiary Roads: Using white light sources to balance energy efficiency and visual amenity.
  • Chairman of light level review committee (2014 - )

Society of Light & Lighting (SLL)

  • Member of committee reviewing Lighting Guide LG5 (2008-2010), producing LG5 Lighting for Education (2011).

British Standards (BSI)

  • Member of BSI road lighting committee CPL/34/8 (2007-) producing update of BS5489-1 due in 2012/2013

Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA)

  • Chairman of brightness subcommittee of the Visual Effects of Lamp Spectral Distribution Committee (2008-)

International Committee on Illumination (CIE)

  • Chairman of TC1-80, Research Methods For Psychophysical Studies Of Brightness Judgements (2010-).
  • UK co-ordinator for Division 5 (Exterior And Other Lighting Applications) of the CIE (2007-2012).
  • Member and principal author of CIE TC4.48: white light (2008-2014), producing report 206:2014. The Effect Of Spectral Power Distribution On Lighting For Urban And Pedestrian Areas. 2014. ISBN 978-3-902842-33-6.
  • Chairman of pedestrian light level review committee (2014 - )


Founder of LumeNet, the international methods workshop for PhD students.

Organisation and planning

  • CIE quadrennial session, Manchester, July 2015.
  • LumeNet 2012. Sheffield, June 2012
  • Night Vision – Lighting For Residential Roads. MERLIN symposium, City University London. 30th June 2011.
  • Academic forum (PhD methodology workshops) at the Velux Daylighting Symposium, Lausanne, May 2011.

Member of scientific committee

  • Experiencing Light, Eindhoven, October 2009
  • CIE expert symposium 2010: When appearance meets lighting.
  • CIE 2012 conference: Lighting Quality & Energy Efficiency. Hangzhou, China. September 2012.

Invited events/presentations

  1. Exploring lighting and pedestrians’ interpersonal judgements. IMPROVE: Improving the Visual Environment for all. Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies. Lund University. 22-23 May 2014.
  2. Case study II – Urban Environments: research response. IESNA Light & Behavior Conference, Cleveland, USA, 6-8 April 2014.
  3. Lighting for pedestrians. The Annual Convention of the Society of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in Israel. Jerusalem. 23-25 October, 2013.
  4. Measuring Spatial Brightness. The Annual Convention of the Society of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in Israel. Jerusalem. 23-25 October, 2013.
  5. Lighting for pedestrians. Eclairage public: un regard sur le future. Institut Belge De L’Éclairage. Brussels, 17/10/2013.
  6. Presentation to masters students studying lighting. 09/03/2013. Faculty of Architecture, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand.
  7. Research of pedestrian lighting. NPL seminar: Best Practice in LED street lighting. National Physics Laboratory. 4th December 2012.
  8. Guidance for lighting in residential streets to account for mesopic vision. ILP Northern Meeting, 18/10/2012, Bolton.
  9. Guidance for lighting in residential streets to account for mesopic vision. Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP). The Professional Lighting Summit, October 2012, Brighton.
  10. Research on Lighting for Pedestrians. Keynote presentation, CIE 2012 Lighting Quality & Energy Efficiency, Hangzhou, China, September 2012.
  11. Light levels for pedestrians – are they correct? Workshop at CIE 2012 Lighting Quality & Energy Efficiency, Hangzhou, China, September 2012.
  12. Residential Street Lighting: Optimising Spectral Power Distribution for pedestrian tasks. CIE Expert Workshop on Mesopic Photometry, CIE Central Bureau, Vienna/AT, 24 – 25 January 2012..
  13. 8th China International Exhibition and Forum on Solid State Lighting. Keynote lecture in Market, Technology and Application of Roadway Lighting. November 2011.
  14. Velux Daylighting Symposium, Lausanne, May 2011. Highlights of the academic forum.
  15. PLDA Educators Forum, Milan, April 2011.
  16. Measuring Spatial Brightness. Margaret Halstead memorial meeting: The Colour of Light …. City University, 2nd March 2011.
  17. Lighting for Pedestrians in Residential Streets. Stockholm Lighting Days. Stockholm, 25-26 February 2010
  18. Mesopic vision research, SLL seminar, Institution of Structural Engineers, Tuesday, 14th October 2008.
  19. Effects of SPD on the Appearance of Spaces and on Visual Performance, Symposium on Lighting and Human Performance, NPL Optical Radiation Measurement Club, 14th December 2006
  20. Presentation to lead discussion on Light Colour Specification. Lighting Research & Technology colloquium Light and Human Response with Respect to Lighting Application, UCL, London, 23rd February 2006

Evaluation modes for visual appraisals Routes by which the visual environment affects performance Street lighting in Sheffield Investigating the benefits of illuminance adjustment

VELUX Daylight Academic Forum

The VELUX Daylight Academic Forum is held in connection with the biennial VELUX Daylight Symposium. The aim of the Daylight Academic Forum is to provide an opportunity for PhD students to discuss their current research projects with a panel of other fellow PhD students – supported by a panel of independent researchers – to get critical feedback at an early stage of a research project.

The forums give time for the students to discuss research methodology and how you, as a PhD student, can arrive better results of your experiment than to find out, from blind review, when your paper is rejected for publication.

Here Professor Steve Fotios talks about the aims of the forums and why he was involved in setting them up.

Society of Light and Lighting LR&T Symposium 2018

Road Lighting for Pedestrians: Design Guidance, Past, Present and Future - Professor Steve Fotios

In celebration of the 50th volume of Lighting Research and Technology, the Society held a celebratory LR&T Symposium on the inaugural International Day of Light, 16th May 2018.


A list of key publications can be found below. For a full list of recent publications please click here.

Journal articles