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Master's-level students complete their second-year science coursework in the newly-renovated (Summer 2018) Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory (SRAL). The second-year science curriculum, offered during two contiguous semester courses, addresses the basic theory, procedures, and capabilities/limitations associated with the spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques most commonly encountered in collections interpretation and art conservation research. Learning goals focus on understanding and using recent scientific journal publications.
These courses enable our students to gain hands-on experience in data collection, interpretation, and evaluation for a range of instrumental techniques, including Raman, x-ray fluorescence (XRF), x-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopies, gas- and liquid- mass chromatography (GC- and LC-MS,), pyrolysis GC-MS, and scanning electron microscopy with x-ray microanalysis (SEM-EDS). Students also have access to instrumentation at the University of Delaware. For example the Advanced Materials Characterization Laboratory, the Mass Spectrometry Facility and the Surface Analysis Facility. This experience familiarizes our students with scientific methodology, proper sample preparation procedures, the challenge of accurate data interpretation, and current research in the field of cultural heritage science. A year-long materials research project (previously a Technical Study) ensures that our students have working familiarity and hands-on experience with instrumental methods of analysis as they relate to the activities of collections interpretation and conservation.
Many of these projects have contributed new scholarship to the understanding of unusual cultural materials, treatment procedures and preventive practice. The ultimate goal of our second-year science curriculum is to produce conservators who will work as informed collaborators with scientists. This year's research projects include the technical study of a paper doll house, research of a Fraktur birth and baptismal certificate, determination of the fungistatic and fungicidal effect of linalool on textiles, a study of the impact of benzyl alcohol on oil paint films, an investigation of works by Joachim Patinir and other Netherlandish painters, the scientific analysis of a Tafsir manuscript and leather case from Gambia, the characterization of nontraditional paint media in one of Robert Rauschenberg's paintings, the technical analysis of a blue Japanned chair attributed to Giles Grendey, an analytical and archival investigation of Robert Rauschenberg's Borealis metal paintings, and the study of artistic techniques and materials in a 19th-century monochromatic drawing.
Dr. Jocelyn Alcantara-Garcia, Dr Rosie Grayburn, and Catherine Matsen provide student supervision and instruction in the Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory. They are assisted by SRAL volunteers Dr. Chris Petersen and Dr Judy Rudolph.
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