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Energy and Environment Directorate

Kate Hickcox

Kate Hickcox

(971) 940-7119


Kate Hickcox joined PNNL in 2020. She is a creative thinker with over 20 years of experience in lighting, research and design. Kate’s work focuses on sustainability, which means considering the complex aesthetic, technical, visual, and non-visual needs of people while at the same time equitably benefiting the economy, society, and the environment. Kate’s unique background blends the artistic with the practical and allows for discovery of unique design solutions and innovative research-based strategies. Her work at PNNL includes supporting Energy Equity and Justice in Systems Technology work, leading decarbonization and circularity efforts for lighting and other mechanical and electrical systems, and work in outdoor nighttime lighting. She has authored or co-authored many technical publications/reports and has presented at LightFair International, IALD, LEDucation, the CIE and the IES on topics including sustainability, life cycle assessment, subjective rating scales, designing for darkness, glare and brightness perception, lighting, and acoustics as well as lighting quality metrics.

Kate has been a guest critic and speaker at Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons/The New School, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Architecture Department. She has taught at The New School, Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments and was also the Lighting Fellow for 'Opening the Edge', a project of the Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority; proposed by Jane Greengold.

She is currently a member of the IES Standards Committee, member of the ASHRAE Building Decarbonization Whole Life Design Guide working group, Secretary of the IES Technical Committee: Discomfort Glare in Outdoor Nighttime Environments and a contributing member of the IES Sustainability Committee.

Research Interests

  • Lighting energy efficiency & sustainability
  • Equitable use of lighting
  • Health effects of light and light quality
  • Lighting effects in outdoor nighttime environments
  • Energy equity and energy justice

Education and Credentials

  • M.S., Lighting from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • B.F.A., Furniture from Rhode Island School of Design
  • Lighting Certified (LC), NCQLP

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Member - Illuminating Engineering Society (IES)
  • Member - International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD)
  • Secretary - IES Discomfort Glare in Outdoor Nighttime Environments Committee
  • Treasurer - IES Maine Section
  • Member – IES Standards Committee

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2021 IES Standards & Research Award
  • 2019 IALD goes WILD 2019 Featured Project. Electric Garden Recording Studio
  • 2016 Lighting Fellow for the Design Trust for Public Space, Opening the Edge
  • 2011 Shemitz Scholarship Winner, the Lighting Quotient

PNNL Publications


  • Hickcox K.S., and A. Smith. 2022. "Strategies for achieving circular economy goals in the lighting industry through design for disassembly- based methodologies." In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, The 8th International Light Symposium: Re-thinking Lighting Design in a Sustainable Future (Light Symposium 2022) September 21-23, 2022, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1099, Art. No. 012004. London:Institute of Physics. PNNL-SA-172377. doi:10.1088/1755-1315/1099/1/012004
  • Hickcox K.S., S. Fotios, B.K. Abboushi, and N.J. Miller. 2022. "Correspondence: A new two-step approach for evaluating discomfort from glare." Lighting Research & Technology 54, no. 1:91-92. PNNL-SA-167574. doi:10.1177/14771535211071133

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas