An Update from the Working World

In addition to the current students in the MSc program, some past students occasionally have a chance to update us on how things are proceeding as they move on to their careers in the wider world of conservation.

Anna Funke (MSc 2014-2016)

I am from the UCL conservation class of 2016 and am now taking the first steps as a fully-fledged conservator.

After having lived in London for seven years, I decided that I wanted to go back to the States. So during my internship year, I applied to a wide variety of internships and fellowships all over the US, so that I would have a place to go after handing in my dissertation in September.

In the end, I did the Materials Research internship with the National Centre for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) based in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The centre is part of the National Parks Service and runs a wide variety of scientific studies related to the preservation of North American heritage. I was originally supposed to be here for ten weeks but will now be staying for a little longer, which gives me time to get involved with more projects as well as elaborate on my original research.

 

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Anna in front of NCPTT

 

While here, I have been running a study on the use of chelating agents to remove iron stains from marble. This has always been a challenging treatment because the acidity of the chelating agent will cause damage to the calcium carbonate in the marble, which can lead to etching. The aim of this study has been to gather data on the damage done to marble by the use of chelating agents, which could then be combined with data on their effectiveness at stain removal. Five different chelators were tested both at pH 9.2 and pH 10. Based on this combined data, the tested treatment solutions could be ranked according to their effects both on the marble and the staining.

 

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Anna cleaning samples after treatment, unstained samples, and stained samples

 

Now that I have completed the data collected on this project, I will get involved with a study on the effectiveness of different glazing agents in the preservation of historic windows. For this I will be testing the durability of different products using a freeze-thaw chamber.

While I have been here, I have learned how to operate and interpret the data from a wide variety of scientific instruments available to conservation, as well as how to effectively design and run a study in materials testing. It has been a great way of learning more about material science and conservation research.

It has also been interesting working for an organization that is very focused on conservation communications. I have written several blog posts, given a lecture and recorded a podcast in the short time that I have been here. Finally, it has also provided me with an interesting research project, which I can now publish and present at conferences, which will hopefully help me further in meeting people throughout conservation.

 

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Anna taking colorimetry readings on stained samples

 

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