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UK Heritage Science Research Receives £6.5m Boost

10 January 2011

Sixteen new awards for Science and Heritage interdisciplinary research projects and post doctoral research fellowships have been announced today, all aimed at protecting the cultural fabric of the UK and further developing our understanding of it.

Laser scanning point cloud for the AHRC Portus Project

Worth over £6.5m in total and co-funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), through the Science and Heritage Programme, these awards are intended to ensure that knowledge and innovation in cultural heritage research is strengthened and that early career researchers emerge to lead the heritage science in the future.
Research projects will explore the following themes:


  • Remote sensing: from the detection of archaeological residues to transcontinental monitoring of World Heritage Sites
  • Non-invasive imaging: from spectroscopic imaging and the use of Optical Coherence Tomography on subsurface microstructure of objects to the virtual reconstruction of Renaissance monuments
  • Advanced technologies: from Synchrotron techniques for historic metals to the development of electronic noses to detect heritage smells


  • Climate change: from value based flood resilience to protect historic buildings to assessing the effect of climate on decorative furniture surfaces in historic properties
  • Salts: from characterising salts and synthetic coatings on wall paintings to understanding their contribution to deterioration


  • Inorganic materials: from condition monitoring of heritage iron to the discovery of Europe's hidden wall paintings
  • Organic materials: from structural change and perceived damage of parchment to the study of cultural objects worked in skeletal hard tissues
  • Synthetic materials: from the application of surface science to artists' acrylic emulsion paint films to interpreting the surface of objects


  • Collection management: on the dynamic evolution of populations of objects.

Professor May Cassar, the Director of the UK Science & Heritage Research Programme, said "These awards demonstrate the resurgence of heritage science as a result of the investment of the UK Research Councils.  They will go a long way towards building the capacity of a robust heritage science research base for the future.  The quality and range of the collaborative research projects and the individual post graduate fellowships will ensure that the UK maintains its global position in heritage science."

Professor May Cassar ACR FIIC FRSA,
AHRC/EPSRC Programme Director for Science and Heritage
Tel: +44-(0)20-7679-1780, E:

Media Contact: Jake Gilmore, AHRC Communications Manager; T: 0797 099 4586, E:

Editors Notes

UK Science & Heritage Research Programme: The Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council are managing this research programme that will run, initially, for five years. The programme is led by Programme Director, Professor May Cassar of UCL. Professor Cassar leads on the programmes development, external coordination and outreach as well as on extensive networking with the national and international research community including non-academic sectors. In addition she is also establishing the base line level of funding across all the research councils and developing a comprehensive map of recent and current research and training activity in heritage science.

Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £102 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,350 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.  

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests more than £750 million a year in research and postgraduate training to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. More at

UK Heritage Science Research Receives £6.5m Boost

The awards are as follows:
Large Research Grants (Science and Heritage) Scheme

Professor AG Cohn       £534,833.00      Studentship £146,887.51
School of Computing , University of Leeds
The Detection of Archaeological residues using Remote Sensing Techniques (DART)

Dr D D'Ayala     £531,289.00      Studentship £146,887.51
Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, University of Bath
PARNASSUS: Ensuring integrity, preserving significance: value based flood resilience for protection of cultural heritage from climate change impact

Dr L Gibson      £537,123.00      Studentship £97,781.34
Pure and Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde
Heritage Smells!

Dr H Liang        £661,419.00      £0.00
School of Biomedical and Natural Sciences, The Nottingham Trent University
The Next Generation of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) for Art Conservation - in situ non-invasive imaging of subsurface microstructure of objects

Dr PG Lindley   £497,907.00      Studentship £152,397.01
Department of History of Art and Film, University of Leicester               Representing Re-Formation: Reconstructing Renaissance Monuments

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