Studentship: Uncertainty of Damage Functions in Preventive Conservation

The Centre for Sustainable Heritage, Bartlett School for Graduate Studies, University College London (UCL) and The National Archives (TNA), London are seeking applications for one fully funded Thames Consortium Studentship on the topic “Uncertainty of Damage Functions in Preventive Conservation”. Funded by AHRC, the three year PhD research programme will be supervised jointly by UCL ( and TNA (

This is a highly prestigious studentship on a challenging topic of strategic importance to the field. In preventive conservation, it is customary to rely on damage functions to predict the future state of a heritage object or a collection in certain environmental conditions. Damage functions are mathematical models, derived experimentally or empirically, and are associated with an uncertainty. This uncertainty is rarely assessed and as a consequence, the reliability of predictions and consequently, conservation decisions has often been questioned. This project will develop a damage function for discolouration of particularly unstable paper types, and critically examine the associated uncertainties. This will be compared with a general review of uncertainty calculation in long-term predictions, and conclusions drawn for predictive maintenance of heritage. The particular research questions of this interdisciplinary project are:

  • What is the uncertainty of damage functions used in preventive conservation?
  • How do these uncertainties affect the reliability of long term decision making?
  • What are the expectations of the conservation community with respect to the certainty of decision making?
  • On the basis of a case study, can the sources of uncertainty be analytically examined?

The research project will enable the PhD student to seek employment in any multidisciplinary environment: from academia to conservation, including engineering and industry.

The student will have a good first degree in a relevant discipline: mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, material science or conservation science. Experience in data analysis, experimental design and modelling are desired. For further details contact Dr. Matija Strlič, / 020 3108 9036 or Kostas Ntanos, / 020 8392 5330 ext. 2019.

The AHRC Studentship 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. Overseas students may also be eligible if they fulfil a range of residency requirements stipulated on the AHRC guidance. For detailed terms and conditions see the RCUK Student Funding Guide

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 ( (FAO A. Brown)

Bartlett School of Graduate Studies UCL

14 Upper Woburn Place

London WC1E 0NN

UCL Taking Action For Equality.

Application deadline 6th September 2013
Interviews 13th September 2013.

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