Meet the Team: A moment with Dr. Forrest Webler

02 Aug 2022

Hi Forrest, thanks for joining us today!


Can you tell us a bit more about you ? What is your background and what do you like to do outside of LYS ? 


My first project as an undergraduate student was working on the eye. I have always been interested in the eye and how it communicates information to the brain. Most recently, I completed a PhD at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, specifically about demystifying the effects of light on human health and well-being. What I find most exciting about light is its duality to engender physiological and psychological effects through different neurological pathways. Now at LYS, I am excited to apply my knowledge to help transform our relationship with light.

Outside of work my interest in light manifests itself in analog photography. I also love all forms of outdoor sports and I’m in the process of transitioning from the mountain-based sports of Switzerland to those that are better suited in Denmark like cycling and sailing!

How did you get to know LYS and why did you want to join ? 


I met Christina Friis Blach Petersen in 2018, when she was working on the first iteration of the LYS Button. At EPFL, we have one of the best facilities to test the performance of light sensors. As a young PHD student, I was really interested in understanding how we measure light and so I worked with Christina to validate that the sensor was accurate. When I finally finished my PhD, I reached out to Christina to discuss working together and applying my knowledge to help improve and grow LYS. While I have great appreciation for academia, I think there is a lot that can be done in practice by taking research and translating it into products that impact people’s lives. 


What is your role at LYS and what are your projects ? 


My official title is CTO but I would say that my main focus is on scientific development. We like to say that we are a “science-driven” technology company because we are developing the algorithmic knowhow and IP that are needed to interface with the lighting system to deliver healthy lighting to all of our users.  My core responsibility is to ensure that we are delivering the best quality products that are aligned with the most recent recommendations and standards published by the scientific community. 


What I find most interesting about light and exposure to light is that it affects us both physiologically (it affects hormone regulation) and psychologically (light can make you feel a certain way because you have an emotional connection to it). I don’t think there is anything else in the world that can have this duality.


My first project at LYS is to work on the light diet and lighting recipes for our users. This means balancing our three core pillars: health, perception, and psychology. Delivering “healthy” lighting means delivering the right light at the right time for circadian and sleep applications, while also ensuring an aesthetically pleasant and “hygge” lighting experience.


A question to all of our team members: What struck you the most when learning about circadian rhythms and light? Are you a Night Owl or a Morning Lark? 


I am definitely a night owl. When I was a student, I naturally fell into a later routine which I am only now starting to relax. What it is so interesting about chronotype is that it is actually much more fluid than we previously thought. While we think about the three common chronotypes, there are actually an infinite number of chronotypes making it more of a spectrum.  Furthermore, what determines one’s chronotype is a complex combination of genetic, epigenetic, age, and behavioral factors. While one may naturally be more predisposed to being a morning lark, it does not mean that that person cannot evolve into a midday dove or night owl over time. 


In your opinion, what are the key takeaways from working in a tech startup ? 


My takeaway is that progress moves quickly and we at LYS are at the forefront of this process. Disruption in the industry will not come from the inside but rather from outsiders with a radically new perspective. I think we are well positioned to be that disruptor in the lighting industry and redefine what light means and what it can do for our users. We are currently at a paradigm shift moment where the light you have in your environment can be tailored to your vision needs and biology.  As always with a startup I am most excited about listening to people and delivering real world solutions to improve lives and transform our physical environment!