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Light affects us. But how? Francesca will find out

February 12, 2024

In May 2022, Francesca Borghese started her PhD project at the University of Groningen. She will study how light affects humans, in several ways. She will be supervised by prof. Roelof Hut.

Who are you? Hi, my name is Francesca! I was born in Italy and grew up in different countries in Asia and Africa, before moving to Switzerland during my teenage years. I love travelling, discovering new cultures, food and in my free time I enjoy reading, spending time with friends, video games and testing out new hobbies.

What is your background? I obtained my bachelor and master’s degree in Clinical and Cognitive Psychology at the University of Geneva. This allowed me to gain knowledge in different psychological concepts, receive training as a clinical psychologist and I took part in a project looking into the characteristics of people with a good or a bad sense of direction. I then went on to obtain a master’s degree in neuroscience, during which I had to opportunity to work on a project focusing on testing a new technique consisting in using auditory stimulations during sleep to influence memory and reduce social anxiety in humans.

What is your project about? Last May, I started my Ph.D. at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES) of the University of Groningen. I  will be looking into the effects of light on the biological clock in humans. More specifically, I will take part in different projects investigating 1) the effects of light on thermoregulation and mental performances and 2) the quantification of photoreceptor contribution to circadian entrainment. This will then lead to the development of a light source prototype with optimised light spectra aimed to enhance context and time specific demands (e.g. shift work).

When did you first hear about the biological clock? I first heard about the biological clock during my bachelor’s degree, when I attended a lecture focused on sleep and circadian rhythms. Since then, my interest in this topic kept growing!

What is something that people should know about you? I like to try out new hobbies and learn new things: I am currently trying to learn karate, Japanese and to play drums.

To contact Francesca, send her an email.

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The BioClock Consortium is funded by the NWA-ORC programme of the Dutch Research Council (NWO; project number 1292.19.077).