SEAHA student receives Canadian doctoral scholarship award

SEAHA is proud to announce that Scott Allan Orr is in recipient of a 2016/2017 award from the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund (CCSF). He is one of fifteen Canadian students to be selected this year. The committee evaluates applicants for their academic standards, but also assess their ability to communicate their research and passion to diverse audiences: an interview with committee members and trustees is a fundamental component of the process. The interviews are hosted by the Canadian High Commission on Trafalgar Square (pictured), which was founded in 1967 by the Canadian Women’s Club to mark Canada’s centennial, the CCSF is a registered charity that has awarded more than 300 scholarships to outstanding students from across Canada who are enrolled in postgraduate programmes at UK universities, colleges, institutes or conservatories.

A CCSF award is an acknowledgement of the importance of Canadian culture—and it’s historic built environment—from a notable institution and the prominent community members who serve as trustees and committee members. It supports strengthening ties between the countries’ heritage science communities, uniting the efforts to preserve and interpret the interwoven heritage of Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Canadian High Commission also graciously provided facilities for the inaugural ‘Analysing Art: New Technologies — New Applications’ conference in May 2016. This event brought together researchers and scientists from both countries, as well as many other international speakers.

Scott is about to commence his third year of his doctoral studies with SEAHA, supervised by Professor Heather Viles in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. You can read more about Scott and the other SEAHA students by clicking here.

Header image: Aerial view of Canada House and Trafalgar Square by Ben Blossom (CC-BY SA 4.0)

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Inaugural SEAHA Special Seminar – a great success!

The SEAHA Special Seminar in Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imaging took place on 30th June 2016 at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. https://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/

Over 70 delegates met together for a varied selection of excellent presentations described by one as “one of the best conferences I have been to in the last 5 years. For me personally it could have been even longer”. Organised by David Howell, Head of Heritage Science at Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, the event received generous financial support from SEAHA (the Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology), and the Icon Science Group.

Matija Strlic introduced the Keynote speaker, Fenella France, who gave a fantastic and very accessible overview of the imaging being carried out at The Library of Congress. This set the tone of the day and was a great introduction for those not so familiar with the topic.

This was then followed by four presentations introduced by John Delaney by SEAHA students whose subjects ranged from ‘registration’ of images to pigment identification. This impressed one attendee who was ‘blown away by the innovation and skill of new researchers especially’, so Ian, Keats, Hend and Cerys are to be congratulated on contributing so well.

This was followed by a series of talks introduced by David Howell by some of the most experienced practitioners of spectral imaging in the world. And four very different approaches; Roger Easton showing successful results from decades of investigations; David Messinger showing a way ahead using techniques as yet untested in heritage science; Ludo Snijders showing what can be excavated from one set of complex data given enough time, knowledge and perseverance; and John Delaney showing how advanced the imaging is at The National Gallery of Art, Washington, US.

The meeting ended with a panel discussion led excellently by Melissa Terras who managed to encourage a lively but constructive discussion on vocabulary, data sharing, standardisation, cost effective solutions for those not in large institutions, and generally how interested parties could continue to develop and work together.

Feedback after the event was almost universally good, and there was support for holding regular events ‘Excellent speakers, good venue’, ‘I thought the seminar was great! There were great speakers and it brought together a good group of professionals’, ‘I strongly suggest holding this type of meeting once a year or every other year’.

Most people who indicated an opinion would want annual meetings.

Reflecting on the successful event, Keynote speaker Fenella France observed: “It was great to see experienced imaging practitioners and students making great developments, as well as the interest shown by a range of heritage professionals working with cultural heritage materials who were excited about the possibilities offered by spectral imaging; to reveal hidden content; non-invasively characterize pigments and substrates, and track change due to treatments or environment”.

Header image: SEAHA student Hend Maghoub scanning a Russian Icon using Hyperspectral imaging system at UCL Heritage Science Lab.

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SEAHA partner the Mary Rose Museum celebrates reopening

SEAHA partner the Mary Rose Museum has celebrated it’s reopening following a £5.4 million revamp. The Mary Rose Museum, located in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, has two SEAHA doctoral Studentships and opened in 2013. The Tudor warship will now be visible through floor to ceiling windows and a balcony.  Speaking on the day of the reopening to the public, Dr Eleanor Schofield, Head of Conservation and Collections Care at the Museum, said: “After over three decades of conservation, it is fabulous to now see the ship on full display for the public to enjoy” For more information about the Museum and it’s reopening please click here.

Header image: Stephen Foote, Mary Rose Trust.


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Cecilia Bembibre wins best poster award at CHEMCH 2016

Cecilia’s poster on volatile organic compounds in museums, presenting research on the significance of smell as part of the heritage experience, was awarded the first prize at the 4th International Congress Chemistry for Cultural Heritage (CHEMCH) conference in Brussels last week.

The poster was selected among 52 entries and was presented by Cecilia Bembibre, 2nd-year SEAHA student at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage in collaboration with the National Trust and Odournet. This was one of several contributions from SEAHA to the event, which included a talk by ISH Lecturer Dr Katherine Curran and posters by SEAHA students Alexandra Bridarolli, Nanette Kissi and Yun Liu.


Header image: Cinquantenaire Park, Brussels. CREDIT: Redvershttp://flickr.com/photos/redvers/1074888992/


SEAHA Student Carolien Coon interviewed by BBC Science Radio

Carolien Coon, a SEAHA Phd student had first-hand experience of the benefits of disseminating research through the right channels and how this can lead to further opportunity to reach a wider audience and possible further future collaborations. A short article she wrote on research conducted at UCL ISH as part of the Nanorestart project for the May “Focus on Nanotechnology” supplement of Physics World was picked up by Rob Thompson, a nanotechnologist and reporter for BBC Science Radio. This led to Carolien and Dr Katherine Curran, UCL Institute of Sustainable Heritage, being approached for an interview to discuss their research on BBC Radio. The programmes focused on the role of nanotechnologies in the conservation of modern artwork and also featured Bronwyn Ormsby, Conservation Scientist at the Tate as well as the artist Tom Lomax, with whom UCL ISH are fortunate enough to have continued collaboration with in their research on the conservation of Rapid Prototypes. The programme was aired on both the BBC World Review Science in Action programme (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03z622b#play) and the Radio 4 Inside Science programme (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07h2vmf#play). This in turn led to the programme being heard by an artist collective who has been in-touch regarding possible collaborations.

Reflecting on her interview, Carolien said: “Nerve wrecking as this was, it was a wonderful and valuable experience gained in dealing with the media and how this can impact on your research and the audience. Exciting times ahead and I am very much looking forward to possible SEAHA collaborations with artists in the near future – so watch this space!”


SEAHA – Engaging with Industry

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage & Archaeology (SEAHA) is proud to have partnered with many industrial, heritage and research organisations before and since its inception in 2014. Collaborations are varied and include research collaborations, public engagement events, providing access to facilities and funding SEAHA Studentships. SEAHA prides itself on working closely with the sector in order to address challenges set by the heritage sector, government and industry, in order to:

  • Train researchers internationally to embed new knowledge in best practice addressing the scientific and engineering research needs of the arts, heritage and archaeology sectors.
  • Engage with industry in developing of instruments and tools.
  • Engage practitioners with novel ways of understanding material change.
  • Engage the public with novel ways of presenting and interpreting heritage.

Hend Maghoub is a second year SEAHA student, and is working with GILDEN Photonics on her research project looking at quantitative chemical hyperspectral NIR imaging of historic cellulosic materials. On describing her experience of working with GILDEN, she said:

“Having the opportunity to take a training within my industrial partner GILDEN Photonics was very rewarding, particularly in the early stage of my PhD project. It allowed me to gain valuable hands-on experience and gave me the skills required to start working on my research using hyperspectral imaging. Interacting with professionals who were generous with their time and support, provided me with wide-ranging experience and allowed me to grasp the potential of my research not only in heritage and academia but also in industry. I am convinced this will have a significant effect on my progress and future plans.”

On working with Hend, Dr John R Gilchrist, Managing Director at GILDEN Phonics Ltd, said: “GILDEN Photonics are pleased to be able to sponsor a SEAHA student, Hend Mahgoub, for her PhD in hyper-spectral imaging of Islamic documents.  This exciting work started only in October 2015 and yet has already borne significant images and results in both academic and potentially commercial environments.  We have worked closely with Hend to develop new algorithms for image and colour analysis and the solid ground work that she has developed and proven at UCL is now being converted to high efficiency directly coded algorithms at GILDEN Photonics. I believe that this partnership and the complimentary expertise, that it has, is really a great strength to both parties and we are very much looking forward to a strong, open, and continued exchange of great ideas and capabilities between SEAHA and GILDEN as her PhD progresses.”

Over the last two year, SEAHA have held a range of events aimed at engaging and collaborating with industry. On the 8th march 2016, SEAHA, in collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), organised an industry workshop on Sensors in the Arts, Heritage and Archaeology. The aim of this workshop was to highlight challenges, currently faced by the heritage community, and engage the help of the broader sensors & instrumentation sector.

These challenges were presented by representatives from the Natural History Museum, Historic England, Birmingham Museums, Historic Royal Palaces, the University of Oxford and University College London, followed by roundtable discussions, led by each presenter. There were 40 attendees from a mix of heritage and technology background, including representatives from both academia and industry. Outcomes from the event were captured in a report which can be downloaded here.

For more information on how to get involved with SEAHA, please contact the SEAHA Centre Manager by email to: manager@seaha-cdt.ac.uk.

IMAGE: SEAHA student Hend Maghoub working at Brodsworth Hall (English Heritage) with ISH student Mel Keable, perfoming Multispectral Imaging.

Explaining SEAHA to the public during an Open Day in UCL.

The Mobile Heritage Lab goes to Cheltenham Science Festival

The SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab has been invited to participate in this year’s edition of the Cheltenham Science Festival, one of the largest science festivals in the world. Nine PhD researchers will travel to the festival to explain Heritage Science and their PhD research during a 4 day event, from the 9th to the 12th of June. The Mobile Heritage Lab will loaded up with a wide variety of scientific instruments. Inside the lab, visitors will experience “History under the microscope”, an exploration of several historical materials with techniques for surface analysis, such as profilometry, reflective transformation imaging and 3D microscopy. Visitors will also be able to experiment with different sources of light (Ultra Violet and Infra Red) in order to reveal hidden features of artworks. Outside the lab, the students will demonstrate the operation of the Ground Penetrating Radar, a technique that uses radio waves to investigate the subsurface. The radar can detect voids and changes in soil density, which could indicate archaeological remains, burials or a treasure chest – and SEAHA students have ensured visitors will find something interesting underground.
Never before has heritage science featured so strongly in the programme of the festival. It is a great opportunity to learn hands on about the cutting edge techniques used for the preservation of cultural heritage. If you are planning to attend the Cheltenham festival this year, you’ll find the unmistakable white silhouette of the Mobile Heritage Lab in the very centre of the action, in the Imperial Gardens behind the Town Hall.

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SEAHA Special Seminar in Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imaging

SEAHA are delighted to announce a Special Seminar in Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imaging, taking place at Wolfson College in Oxford on Thursday 30th June 2016.

Why Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imaging?

Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging are making big news in heritage science with almost weekly ‘discoveries’ being reported in the Press. A relatively new technique developed in astrophysics and applied to military applications and environmental studies, it has even more recently been embraced by imaging scientists and heritage professionals. Progress and development in this area is so exciting and so rapid that we are taking this opportunity to invite anyone involved with or simply interested in these techniques to attend a one day seminar to find out more.

Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging are the focus of three doctoral studentships within SEAHA but the techniques will be used to some extent in a much larger number of projects. There are also several different imaging systems within the SEAHA partnership which enable research into the problems of standardisation, portability and comparison of data. This seminar not only showcases the preliminary work of the students, but also brings together some of the leading practitioners from across the globe. These experts will explain how the technology works and how it has been successfully applied in a number of specific case studies.

The event will include talks from a wide range of specialists in this field and will end with a panel discussion on working together in the future and what the next steps should be.

David Howell, Head of Heritage Science at the Bodleian Libraries, and conference organiser, said:

“This event realises a dream I had around a year ago where I imagined a group of people like me who are amazed and thrilled by the power of multispectral and hyperspectral imaging sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge with a wide audience. Thanks to support from SEAHA and the Icon Science Group, this has enabled a stellar lineup in a great venue where people can relax over a proper lunch between amazing talks. I look forward to hearing what the next generation of heritage scientists are up to with a series of talks by SEAHA students and other professionals in the field.”

Bodleian are delighted to announce that John Delaney, Senior Imaging Scientist, Scientific Research Department, National Gallery of Art in Washington will also join the event to talk about his research, which focuses on the development and application of remote sensing imaging methods for the study of works of arts. This is very much at the forefront of hyperspectral Imaging and a testament to the quality of the event that John has agreed to make this special appearance.

Heard of these techniques and want to know what it’s all about? Then you should attend!

Already using these techniques but want to know what others are doing? Then you should attend!

To book your place click on the following link:


For further detail regarding the event, please click here.

IMAGE: A demon revealed by hyperspectral imaging in MS. Arm. D.13 Folio 22r, an Armenian manuscript held by Bodleian Library’s Special Collections.



SEAHA student Panos Andrikopoulos chairs #MuseumHour

#MuseumHour is a Twitter chat happening every Monday, at 8pm BST focused on museum and heritage topics. SEAHA student Panos Andrikopoulos ( @Phil_Kimby ) and fellow student Danny Garside ( @da5nsy ), were invited to chair the #MuseumHour conversation on Museum Lighting. The discussion started from what consists “good museum lighting” and quickly evolved to address new lighting technologies, lighting policy decision and conservation versus access and included artists, curators, conservators and lighting designers. A summary of the discussion can be found on storify ( https://storify.com/museumhour/museumhour-museumlighting ).  Panos is a first year student in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Science Engineering Arts Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) and Danny is a PhD research student within the 3D Impact group in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at UCL.


SEAHA Student Cecilia Bembibre Sniffs out Historic Smells

Cecilia Bembibre, 2nd-year SEAHA student at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, has recently completed training in chemical and sensory analysis of odours with Odournet SL, industry partner in her Smell of Heritage project. Working in the company’s laboratory in Barcelona, Cecilia has analysed samples of historic value from National Trust’s property Knole House. The combination of analytical chemistry (Time-of-Flight Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry) and the human nose (via GC-sniffing) allowed for the most sophisticated characterization of odours, helping us understand the information historic smells carry and how it can impact our interpretation of the past.

Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology