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Meet the Fellows

Learn about suggested fellowship project topics, current and past fellows, and their research.

2024 – 2025 Fellowship Project Topics

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Scientific Research seeks fellowship applications for the 2024–2025 academic year. Our focus is the preservation, storage, display, and study of The Met collection and its related materials. The following are primary areas of interest for the department, although applications in all topics related to art-conservation science will be considered.


- The study of materials and techniques of nineteenth- and twentieth-century photographs such as, but not limited to, silver, platinum, palladium, satista, salted paper prints, and daguerreotypes, and how these affect their permanence.

- Research on deterioration processes such as silver mirroring and others caused by exposure to light and other environmental factors.

Dyes and organic pigments

- Analysis and identification of dyes and organic pigments used in historic and artistic objects and the degradation products by liquid chromatography—mass spectrometry (LC/MS).

- Topics related to analysis of dye and organic pigment such as development of extraction methods of organic lakes, or differentiating natural dyes containing similar color compounds, are also included.

Preventive Conservation Science

- These topics focus on understanding the environmental factors that affect works of art. Examples include but are not limited to the following: display, storage, and building materials testing using advanced analytical techniques (GC/MS, ion chromatography, HPLC) for the safe display and transport of art, including the analysis of volatiles and their effect on inorganic and organic artwork; monitoring of and determining acceptable thresholds for volatiles and urban pollutants; and the effect of modern pesticides on art.

Organic Media

- These topics focus on the development and application of mass spectrometric (GC/MS, MALDI) and immunological techniques for the identification of natural (biological) and synthetic organic materials in cultural heritage. These materials include proteins, polysaccharides, resins, oils, and waxes, as well as modern paints, coatings, and plastics. Research on degradation mechanisms and chemical interactions are of high interest.

- Other topics include: the interactions of pigments with biological binders; immunological techniques applied to proteins and polysaccharides; and the application of MALDI techniques—including imaging—to the study of organic colorants, plastics, waxes, lipids, polysaccharides, and proteins.

Inorganic Media

- The application of non-invasive micro-XRD analysis to the characterization of crystalline phases in archaeological objects and works of art such as, but not limited to, pigment particles, ceramic bodies and enamel layers, colorants and opacifiers in glass, metal objects and inlays, objects carved from rocks, semi-precious and precious stones, and corrosion and weathering products that form on and within the surface of historic and modern works of art

Current and Past Fellows

Preventive conservation through analysis of airborne pollutants
Jana Butman

Jana Butman joined The Met’s Department of Scientific Research in 2023 as an Andrew W. Mellon Conservation Fellow, where she focuses on preventive conservation through analysis of airborne pollutants. She holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern University. There her research focused on surface-specific analysis of human-derived indoor air pollutants. Previously, she worked at the Library of Congress in the Preservation Research and Testing Division, where she developed cleaning solutions for early audio carriers and wax cylinders.

Development of direct insertion probe mass spectrometry (DIP-MS) for minimally invasive analysis of organic colorants at the molecular level
Rachel Lackner

The chemical identification of organic colorants presents a particular analytical challenge for conservation scientists. One must frequently weigh the desired level of molecular detail with the sample size necessary for analysis. This fellowship project focuses on the development of direct insertion, mass spectrometry (DIP-MS) for minimally invasive organic colorant analysis. DIP-MS requires little or no sample preparation, is highly sensitive, and enables high-resolution mass measurements at the molecular level. The goal of this work is to develop DIP-MS as a complement to existing techniques such as LCMS and SERS for the analysis of natural and synthetic pigments, with a particular focus on prints and paintings.

Application of non-destructive methods, including micro- and macro-XRF; FTIR; Raman; XRD; and SEM, to the study of objects in the Museum's collection and of new acquisitions.
Avalon Hope Dismukes

Chemical analysis of organic colorants using Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry and related techniques
Rachel Lackner

The chemical analysis of artists’ materials is critical for curators and conservators to gain art historical information, to understand how, when, and where a material was produced, and to determine optimal storage and treatment conditions for an artwork. Organic dyes and pigments present a particular analytical challenge for conservation scientists due to their complex chemical properties and diversity of structure. This fellowship project involves the use of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for organic colorant analysis and the development and optimization of new, minimally invasive techniques based on direct insertion probe mass spectrometry (DIP-MS). A particular focus is paid to determining the natural sources of organic colorants in some of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most important textiles.

Chemical-microstructural investigation to identify metalworking technology during the Early Islamic Period of Iran (7th to 14th centuries AD).
Omid Oudbashi

The scientific study of selected objects by using non- and micro-invasive methods will generate information about alloy composition and technology of production. These data will be used to fill the existing gaps in our understanding of Iranian Islamic metalwork technology:

- What is the copper-based alloy favored during the early Islamic period in Iran, and how they relate to the objects’ manufacturing techniques and typologies?
- Is it possible to recognize and define a sequence of development, change and improvement in the copper-base metallurgy during the early Islamic period of Iran?

In addition to these two major questions, the project will also focus on an aspect of metalwork technology that has received little attention, such as the metallic decorations applied to early Islamic objects. Finally, the newly collected data will provide valuable information to understand the history of objects in The Met’s collection and will help contextualize objects lacking a clear provenance within the history of Iranian metallurgy.

An Investigation on the stucco decorations from the Sassanid to the Islamic collections of Iran in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Atefeh Shekofteh

The project aims at investigating the gypsum artworks from Iran in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ranging from Parthian stucco decorations to Islamic period stuccoes of Nishabur. Through a multi-analytical approach (SEM-EDS, XRD, and Raman), the project will provide new knowledge about the ancient techniques and materials of stucco decorations of Iran. The results of this interdisciplinary study will provide useful information towards the reconstruction of manufacturing techniques and will aid conservators and curators in addressing issues of conservation, provenance and authenticity.

Mass spectrometry investigation of emulsion curing and leather proteins
Aleksandra Popowich

In recent years, proteomics techniques using mass spectrometry have been adapted to cultural heritage for analysis of proteins in artwork, including leather. While challenges remain, determination of the animal origin of leather is more common; conversely, tissue identification using proteomics remains an underexplored area. Emulsion/organ tanning is a traditional method using natural emulsifying agents (oils/lipids), generally from the organs (brain, liver) of skinned animals, to preserve hide and has been used by cultures globally because it is efficient, unwasteful, and does not require time-consuming sourcing of bark tannins. Additionally, characterization of oils from emulsion tanning is completely novel. This project focuses on developing an innovative analytical method for the extraction and detection of oils and proteins from emulsion-cured leather to deepen our understanding of this technique that was widely used historically and geographically between cultures. 

Investigation of Artworks via Macroscale Chemical Mapping Using Hyperspectral Imaging
Roxanne Radpour

Roxanne Radpour has been exploring applications of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) to advance such protocols to better serve our understanding of an object’s condition, history, and material nature. HSI is a form of remote sensing that collects hundreds of images of a target in contiguous, narrow spectral bands. Stacking these images produces rich 3D data cubes, in which each pixel in the recorded target scene contains a material signature. In applying this technique to artworks such as paintings and utilizing different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum through targeted illumination, and by employing both reflectance and luminescence capture, we can simultaneously identify constituent painting media and explore how they are applied throughout the artwork (i.e., relatively purely in mixtures or in layers).

Investigation of ceramic and metal objects from the encyclopedic collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Alicia McGeachy

This fellowship focuses on the in-depth study of objects in the Museum’s collection that have never been analyzed before. Among the studied objects are small copper alloy casts from Mali and Benin, silver and gold belt fittings, drinking bowls, and goblets found in a single hoard found during an excavation near Vrap, Albania, and ceramic wares produced in the Edgefield district in South Carolina.

The Chalcis Hoard: A Material Study of the Origin, Nature, and Transformation of Metal for Armor Fabrication
Emilie Bérard

This project is devoted to shedding light on the above-mentioned factors, by examining the metal of a set of armor defenses belonging to a famous collection known as the Chalcis hoard (from its place of discovery). Most of them are dated from the 15th century and identified as Italian. This work implements a multi-technical approach on selected artifacts, including metallographic analyses, hardness measurements and trace element quantification on slag inclusions entrapped in the metallic matrix (SEM-EDX, LA-ICP-MS), to assess the metal quality used and study its provenance. Coupled with historical evidence, the results will provide new information regarding the history of armor making in Europe. 

Testing materials for use near organic-based collections: The Paper Test—A novel analytical approach
Francesca Volpi

This paper test project focused on optimizing a possible alternative method based on a cellulose, or paper-based, sensor, rather than metals. The goals were to reduce the aging time and allow for quantitative, non-subjective, evaluation of the sensor degradation. High-pressure anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD) and UV-Vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy were used to analyze hydrolysis and oxidation, respectively, of the cellulose sensor after aging with storage materials. The effective assessment of cellulose degradation allowed to evaluate the suitability of storage and display materials for use near artworks.

Multi-technical Studies of Eighteenth-Century Overglaze Enamels from Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory
Alicia McGeachy

The Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory is often regarded as the preeminent porcelain manufacturer. Established in the 1740s, the factory produced such highly prized works as the Goat and Bee Jugs and developed the iconic claret color. Despite their recognition as an important center of innovation in eighteenth-century Europe, the Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory has been the focus of only a few technical studies and many questions remain about their approach. Here, we employ a multi-technical approach that integrates x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy with scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy, which allows us to not only identify the chemical constituents present but also to address questions about phase and spatial distribution. Such insights will further our understanding of the development of the porcelain industry in England and place that knowledge in context with the advances of enameling techniques across Europe.

Evaluation of Commercial Products Used for Exhibiting and Storing Artworks. Set Up of a New Methodology for Testing Materials
Francesca Volpi

The off-gassing of reactive and corrosive molecules from cases building materials is a current topic in preventive conservation. This project is devoted to the evaluation of the “safeness” of several classes of commercial products used for housing or storing museum objects and collections. A new methodology for testing material has been proposed: artificially aging the material with a paper tester into a closed jar together with the analytical evaluation and quantification of the aging effect on paper through suitable and sensitive techniques such as ion chromatography, UV-Vis spectrometry and FTIR spectroscopy. 

Systematic Scientific Investigation of the Materials and Techniques used in Japanese Artifacts from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Marc Vermeulen

This study focuses on the characterization of the blue and yellow colorants used in Japanese woodblock prints as a way to better understand the production timeframe and establish chronologies of this commercial art form in nineteenth-century japan, where reissuing a popular print well past the date of first issue (or recreating it altogether) is not unusual. By investigating the use of pigments of interest such as orpiment, ultramarine blue, indigo or Prussian blue, we have an independent verification of printing date based on the introduction of new pigments and on changes in pigments manufacturing processes that occurred in the late Edo period and early Meiji. This fellowship builds on previous research on arsenic sulfide and make use of statistical analysis to help create clusters of prints that may help understand when they were made and differentiate between various editions.

Looking beneath the Surface: Scientific Insights into Two Japanese Lacquering Techniques
Yao Yao

Lacquered objects, with their undeniable beauty, are among the most sophisticated handicrafts of Asian art. Different lacquering techniques can be used to produce artifacts with various kinds of decorations and visual effects. Here at The Met, a combination of analytical techniques was carried out on microscopic samples removed from Japanese lacquered objects that are undergoing conservation to evaluate the composition of individual materials used in the multilayered decoration. The results obtained not only help us gain insight into the lacquering techniques of the objects but also provide conservators with information for better treatment and preservation.

Engineered Nanostructured Ceramics Based on Ancient "Cobalt Blue" Technology

Elucidating Daguerreotype Degradation through Surface Species Formation Using Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance Spectroscopy
Andrea Schlather

How Was It Painted? A Scientific Investigation of Traditional Binding Media: From Proteins to Gums, from Oils to Waxes
Clara Granzotto

Applications of X-ray Fluorescence Imaging in the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Louisa Smieska

Multi-technique Microanalysis for Investigating Binary Red Dye Mixtures in Nineteenth-century Navajo Textiles, and the Characterization of Arsenic Sulfide Pigments in Meiji-period Japanese Prints
Stephanie Zaleski

Evaluation and Optimization of Electron Backscattered Diffraction for the Study of Cultural Materials
Brunella Santarelli

Multianalytical Identification of Organic Colorants Used for Staining Wood
Caterina Cappuccini

Wax and What Else? A Scientific Investigation of the Binding Media Used in Funerary Portraits and Linen Paintings from Roman and Byzantine Egypt
Clara Granzotto

Going Far East: A Scientific Study of the Diffusion of Synthetic Colorants in Japan During the Meiji Period (1868–1912)
Anna Cesaratto

Identification of Plant Materials on Power Figures from Kongo
Chika Mori

The Sgraffito Wares from Nishapur (Iran): Reconstructing the Materials and Technology through a Multimethodological Study
Elena Basso

Immunological Methods for the Investigation of Organic Binding Media in Ancient Egyptian Polychrome Works of Art
Joanne Dyer

Identification of Black Brown Pigments in Works of Art: A Multi-technique Study
Maria Lorena Roldan

Layer by Layer: Understanding the Decoration of Painted Musical Instruments
Lisa Gulian

Pigment-Based Photographic Processes: A Technical Study of Pictorial Works in The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Anna Vila-Espuña

The Effect of Environmental Pollutants on the Deterioration of the Daguerreotype Image
Robyn Hodgkins

Understanding Pictorialist Photographs in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Collection: A Technical Study
Anna Vila-Espuña

Petrographic and Geochemical Study of Khmer Quarries: Considerations on Production, Use, and Trade of Stone Material in Cambodia from the Sixth to the Fourteenth Century
Federico Carò

Non-traditional Synthetic Colorants in East Asian Paintings and Wood-block Prints
Yae Takahashi

Cambodian Khmer Sculptures from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Towards a Stone Material Reference Database
Federico Carò

The Application of Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) and Immunofluorescence Microscopy (IFM) for the Identification of Proteins and Polysaccharides in Works of Art
Julia Schultz

Determining the Authenticity of Artworks: The Study of the Cambodian Khmer Sculptures in the Southeast Asian Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Federico Carò

The Antibody-Based Identification of Proteinaceous Binding Media in Art Objects
Julia Schultz

Aging of Oil Paintings: Pigment and Binder Interactions and Formation of Metal Soaps
Margaret MacDonald

Materials and Methods for Improved Surface Abrasion Resistance in Face-Mounted Photographs
Eric Breitung

Study of the Interactions of Pigments and Binders by In-Situ Mobile NMR Spectroscopy
Eleonora del Federico

SERS Application to Identification of Dyes in Samples of Pigments and from Textiles
María de la Vega Cañamares Arribas

Raman Analysis of Tarry and Lignin-like Pigments Used by Artists
Jacob Shamir

Non-destructive Investigation of Binding Media and Inks in Works of Art, With a Focus on Paper and Parchment Substrates, using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Techniques
Wolfgang Schöefberger

Authenticity in Furniture: From Theory to Technical Approach
Stéphanie Rabourdin

Recent Progress in Melanin Stains Degradation
Črtomir Tavzes

Conservation of Color Lithography Posters: Consideration of Analytical Methods Towards a Safer Treatment
Virginia Llado-Buisan