PhD Studentship Preventive Conservation in Heritage Collections – from Material Degradation to Decision Making



The Centre for Sustainable Heritage, University College London (UCL) and The National Archives (TNA) are seeking applications for one fully funded Thames Consortium Studentship. The three year PhD research programme will be supervised jointly by UCL (http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/graduate/csh/csh-home/) and TNA (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/collection-care.htm).

In preventive conservation, it is customary to rely on material degradation experiments performed in a laboratory, to predict the future state of a heritage object or even a collection under certain environmental conditions. Degradation experiments typically lead to development of so called damage functions, which may be more or less reliable. This reliability is rarely assessed and as a consequence, the reliability of conservation decisions could be questioned.

As a case study, the project will look at discolouration of particularly unstable paper types, and critically examine the reliability of degradation experiments and of the resulting damage functions. This data will be compared with the reliability of long-term predictions in related fields of research, and conclusions drawn for preventive conservation of cultural heritage. A particularly interesting aspect of the proposal will be to gauge the opinion of preventive conservators and their expectations about the decision making. The particular research questions of this interdisciplinary project are:

  • How reliable are material degradation experiments and how is this reflected in preventive conservation?
  • On the basis of a case study looking at archival paper degradation, can the reliability of experiments be critically examined?
  • What are the expectations of the conservation community with respect to the certainty of preventive conservation decisions?

A good first degree in a relevant discipline: mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, material science, conservation or heritage/conservation science is required. For further details contact Dr. Matija Strlič, [email protected] / 020 3108 9036 or Kostas Ntanos, [email protected] / 020 8392 5330 ext. 2019.

The AHRC Studentship (actual title: Uncertainty of Damage Functions in Preventive Conservation) will cover home fees and a stipend of up to a maximum of £15,726 per year (current rate) for UK students or EU students who have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the award. A range of residency requirements stipulated in the AHRC guidance applies to other potential applicants. For detailed terms and conditions see http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/Student-Funding-Guide.pdf

The application should include:

The award will be subject to approval by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The applications should not be submitted by UCL online admissions system. They should be sent directly to: Graduate Faculty Office ([email protected])

(FAO A. Brown)

Bartlett School of Graduate Studies

UCL

14 Upper Woburn Place

London WC1E 0NN

UCL Taking Action For Equality.

Application deadline 11th November 2013
Interviews 18th November 2013.

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