SEAHA Studentship: Thinking out of the box – modelling preventive conservation benefits of boxes

University College London

Boxes are a well-established method of storage of archival material and serve a variety of purposes: as physical protection (e.g. during handling), as a buffer against adverse effects of the environment (e.g. T and RH fluctuations, absorption of pollutants), against pests and as protection against fire and water, however, scientific evidence of their benefits is largely missing. This cross-disciplinary project will look at the chemical, biological, environmental and other benefits and drawbacks of storage microenvironments for heritage.

It could be argued that boxes both protect the object (i) from the potentially negative effects of the external environment, and (ii) from itself. However, it is currently difficult to model which of these two options is more important and in what environmental conditions. E.g. in highly polluted environments, it might be more beneficial to protect the object from the external environment, while in purer post-industrial environments, it might be more important that emissions from the objects are captured (or removed from within the box though ventilation holes).

The doctoral project will aim to address the following research questions:

  • (i) What new materials exist that could improve the protective properties of archival boxes?
  • (ii) What is the chemical protective effect of boxes?
  • (iii) Can protection against environmental fluctuations that boxes offer be modelled?
  • (iv) What protection could boxes offer in catastrophic events?
  • (v) What approaches can be considered by collection managers to enable improved decision making?

The exciting project will provide you with diverse field and laboratory research skills in material and environmental science, as well as heritage conservation.

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology is a partnership between at University College London, University of Oxford and University of Brighton ( The project is a collaboration with London Metropolitan Archives ( ) and the company Conservation by Design Ltd. ( and will be supervised jointly with the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage (

As a SEAHA student, you will have unparalleled access to research infrastructure and expertise across 60+ heritage, research and industrial partners. In addition to the university doctoral training requirements, SEAHA students take part in an exciting range of cohort activities, ranging from residential events and group projects, to conferences and careers events. Please visit the SEAHA website ( for details.

For full details on how to apply, please click on the project advert here:  

The SEAHA Studentship will cover home fees and a stipend of up to a maximum of £18,172 per year (current rate) for eligible applicants (, and a substantial budget for research, travel, and cohort activities. Non-EU applicants are not eligible for funding.

The award will be subject to a Grant Agreement between UCL, London Metropolitan Archives and Conservation by Design Ltd.

The application should be submitted by email direct to the SEAHA Centre Manager:

UCL Taking Action For Equality.

Application deadline: The position is open until filled.

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