PhD Proposals

Historically Accurate Reconstruction Techniques (HART)

Title: Investigating the cause of the serious oil paint defect: “alligatoring”
Area: HART / Restoration
Description: The PhD project will involve a three-part investigation: chemical analysis of the study painting to determine the materials present, reconstructions using historically appropriate materials and following paint and Medium recipes used in the 18th and 19th century, and a visual and chemical evaluation of existing reconstructions. Film formation defects will be explored with reconstructions in an effort to reproduce the defects found on the study painting and to thereby determine their cause. Reconstructions with known proportions of ingredients will also provide reference and calibration standards for analytical analyses, and reference images for comparison with the study painting and other paintings affected by these defects. [for more details click here].
Supervisor and team: Leslie Carlyle in collaboration with Laboratoire d’Archéologie Moléculaire et Structurale LAMS.

Title: Technological studies on gilded and polychrome objects
Area: Technological studies
Description: Gilded and polychrome objects compose a very important part of Portuguese heritage. This decorative formula was very successful as its use survived several centuries and was exported to and spread within Portuguese colonies. The survival of a considerable number of gilded and polychrome objects covering a long period, from 13th to the 18th c., and of documentation related to the decoration of these objects, together offer an important opportunity for the study of gilding/polychrome technologies and people involved.
Additionally, gilded and polychrome objects present great similarities, which make them a very interesting subject for research, with the potential to reveal trends and to provide important points of comparison in gilding/polychrome technology. Namely: provenance of raw materials, production of materials, gilding and polychrome practices, deterioration processes affecting the gilded objects, among others. Understanding these materials, their properties, practices of application is not only historically and technologically important but is essential for developing effective conservation treatments for gilded objects such as Portuguese baroque altarpieces.
Collections within the Museu dos Coches and Museu de Arte Antiga can be explored.
Supervision and team: Isabel Pombo Cardoso, Leslie Carlyle, Maria João Melo.


Title: Cleaning fungal stains from paper artefacts
Area: Paper Conservation; Biodeterioration
Description: Books, prints, drawings, watercolours, engravings as well as all other artefacts based on paper are very susceptible to fungal biodeterioration. This is a global problem that affects both the chemical and physical characteristics of the artwork. Currently, the cleaning of fungal stains from paper artefacts is performed either by the use of bleaching agents, solvents, enzymes or laser ablation. However, these methods have major drawbacks. Therefore, there is an urgent need of a solution that is effective being simultaneously non-toxic, environmentally friendly and easy to apply. In this project we envisioned a new methodology that will be a major breakthrough in this area and meet all the above requirements.
This PhD activities will encompass five main phases: selecting the best mechanical cleaning method to eliminate fungal biomass from paper; characterization of fungal stains and corresponding fungal flora; extracting and characterizing the pigment produced; testing of special chemical compounds to meet the specific needs of fungal stains removal; testing the effect of these compounds on the properties of different papers and media; and evaluating their effectiveness on documents and artworks or facsimiles.
This project would be developed within the framework of the project CleanART, which is financed by FCT-MEC. Case studies will be provided by Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino/IICT and Casa das Histórias Paula Rego/FDL.
Supervisor and team: M. Filomena Macedo Dinis, Marta Corvo and Sílvia Sequeira in collaboration with Universidade de Coimbra, Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino/IICT and Casa das Histórias Paula Rego/FDL in the framework of the Project “CleanArt”.

Conservation Science

Title:  Ancient Metals – origin, production and circulation
Area: Archaeometallurgy
Description: The investigation of archaeological artefacts and related production remains may provide important progresses on the knowledge, evolution, production, circulation and use of metals during ancient times. Several studies have been carried out in recent years by our transdisciplinary research team (archaeologists, chemists, materials and conservation scientists) applying diverse analytical methodologies (chemical and microstructural characterization of artefacts and radiocarbon dating of archaeological contexts) focused in the metallurgies of copper-based metals and gold alloys (natural and artificial), ranging from the Prehistory till the Roman Period.
The proposed PhD project aims to pursue such investigation on the Archaeometallurgical field in the Portuguese territory searching for the origin of raw materials and evaluation of the technological processes used to produce different typologies and alloys. The spread of exogenous influences in different periods and the ascertainment of local production are major issues to understand the evolution of Metallurgy at those ancient times in the Iberian Peninsula.
The artefact collections to be investigated in this programme will be selected among the large collections available from different archaeological sites and chronological periods, according to the idiosyncrasies of the on-going research and particular preferences of the selected candidate.
Candidates must be able to interact broadly in a multidisciplinary environment and should have a strong background in Exact Sciences (analytical chemistry and materials sciences).
Supervisor and team: M. Fátima Araújo; Pedro Valério; A. Monge Soares and Rui J.C. Silva.

Title: Dyes in Art and Archaeology
Area: Historical dyes
Description: The study of 2018-05-28ancient dyes is an amazing subject and a long-term commitment for me.
I love the colours, I love the molecules and I would like to preserve them forever.
At the same time I am curious about all the stories they can vehicle about the cultural environment that created them.
Colour is a fascinating subject and the substance of colour the perfect starting point to explore this territory.
National and international collaborations have been paramount in this journey and they have been established with leading institutions and researchers.
Presently, I am particularly interested in continuing our studies in the photophysics and photochemistry of historical dyes and to gain momentum in new advanced techniques such as solid state NMR and microspectrofluorimetry.
Always within an exciting interdisciplinary team.
Supervisor and team: Maria J. Melo, J. Sérgio Seixas de Melo, A. Jorge Parola, M. Conceição Oliveira with international collaborations from the USA to Europe (France, Italy, United Kingdom).

Title: Plastic Paints in Art: shining the light on Ângelo de Sousa
Area: Contemporary Art
Description: The majority of the plastic materials which were developed in the twentieth century had applications as commodities for a non-long term use, being produced without durability concerns. Due to the many plastics advantages, many industrialists, designers and artists have considered these materials as a revolution in the production of their own creations. Nevertheless, their use in art and design brings new conservation challenges as these plastics may suffer irreversible degradation processes. In the framework of the recently funded project The Triumph of Bakelite – contributions for a history of plastics in Portugal, this PhD will contribute to the objective of creating a museum for the safeguard of the plastics industry's memory and the crucial moments of its history. Being dedicated to the conservation, historical-technological and scientific research of plastics, this project aims at surveying well as evaluating the chemical and physical condition of plastic objects to be exhibited. Specifically, systematic studies will be developed in order to fully characterize selected plastics that have been produced in Portugal, correlating the chemical and physical changes over time to an understanding of the influence of manufacture processes in the material’s final resistance.
Supervisor and team: Joana L. Ferreira, Ana M. Ramos, Maria J. Melo, M. Elvira Callapez.

Title: Biodeterioration of glazed tiles by lichens
Area: Ceramic and biodeterioration of cultural heritage
Description: In this PhD project the biodeterioration of glazed tiles by microorganisms, namely lichens will be studied. The first step of this work will be a review of the literature regarding biodeterioration of inorganic building materials by lichens. Field studies will be performed for a detailed taxonomic identification of lichens occurring on glazed tiles, and their biodeteriogenic effect will be analysed. The deterioration produced by the distinct microorganisms on a given type of glazed tiles will be evaluated in order to recognize which microorganisms produce greater damage. Micro-environmental and intrinsic properties of the colonized tiles will be determined in order to establish the main environmental conditions and substrate properties that promote colonization. This will be performed in order to establish a proper management planning for outdoor tiles conservation. Finally, the question of how to effectively remove lichens from glazed tiles will be addressed. Recommendations for cleaning microorganisms on tiles and preventive conservation measures will be given.
Supervisor and team: M. Filomena Macedo Dinis, Mathilda Coutinho and VICARTE unit team.

Title: Glass/stained glass windows biodeterioration and bioreceptivity
Area: Glass and biodeterioration of cultural heritage
Description:  The biodeterioration of glass by microorganisms, such as fungi, cyanobacteria, and algae will be studied. The first step will be a review of the literature regarding biodeterioration of glass by microorganisms. The microorganisms chosen will be isolated from biodeteriorated glass and glass windows but they also have to be reported as frequently involved in glass alteration. Reproductions of glass with different compositions will be made, according to old recipes. The deterioration produced by distinct microorganisms on a given type of glass will be evaluated in order to recognize which produce greater damage in the shortest time. Also, the primary bioreceptivity of glass with different compositions will be assessed by using biofilms similar to what found in biodeteriorated glass and glass windows. A bioreceptivity index will be proposed, establishing the risk of a given type of glass being colonized. Finally, the question of how to effectively clean biofilms on glass will be addressed. Recommendations for cleaning biofilms on glass and preventive conservation measures will be developed.
Supervisor and team: M. Filomena Macedo Dinis, Márcia Vilarigues and VICARTE unit team.

Title: Red to Orange Chromatic Alterations on Stone Cultural Heritage – origins, damage and cleaning strategies
Area: Stone and biodeterioration of stone
Description: Chromatic alteration is one of the stone decay pattern that compromises its aesthetic fruition and decreases it cultural and economic value. Red to orange chromatic stone alterations are a common discolouration in cultural heritage all over the world. These discolourations may occur on different types of stones, such as marble, granite, schists, limestone, etc; and may be driven by intrinsic (oxidation of metallic minerals) and/or extrinsic factors (microoganisms, solubilisation of nearby metals, past treatments, vandalism). Whatever their origin may be, these alterations are difficult to remove. A clear distinction among the principal types of red to orange chromatic alterations is compulsory, as the cleaning procedures required for restoring the affected stone artefacts must be appropriate to the nature and origin of each type of discolouration.
This project aims to assemble, characterize, classify and monitor the red to orange chromatic alterations found in several case-studies in Portugal. These investigations are tightly correlated with the research regarding the development of the most suitable and less invasive cleaning methods and procedures for preserving the stone cultural heritage. This PhD project will develop knowledge in the field of stone conservation by increasing stone heritage databases, by understanding the stone decay phenomena and their consequences for heritage objects and by improving diagnostics.
Supervisor and team: Amélia Dionísio, Filomena Macedo and Ana Zélia Miller.