SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training’s (SEAHA CDT) fourth annual conference, held 4-6th June 2018 in London, was a resounding success. Over three days, over 100 heritage science professionals and students gathered in central London to hear the latest research from our esteemed keynote speakers, a wide selection of podium speakers, and more than 50 research posters.
There was a decidedly international feel to the conference this year, with delegates travelling from as far as China, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Amongst this diversity of speakers, we challenged our delegates to think outside of their own subject areas and to consider how different disciplines, from architecture to data science, could contribute to the burgeoning cross disciplinary field.
‘The student [organisers] invited guest speakers from various fields some of which on the surface of it don’t have any link to heritage science yet, but it is the vision of our students, and of SEAHA, that these fields will become more and more interesting in the future [to heritage science] such as data science or crowdsourcing or proteomics and I think that was a phenomenal vision…they’ve done a phenomenal job.’
We opened our conference with an overview of how satellites could be used for management of heritage structures (Nicola Masini), then heard about how building information modelling (BIM) traditionally used in architecture and engineering can be applied to heritage sites from Edonis Jesus. After lunch and an opportunity to view the many research posters on display, Baroness Margaret Sharp delivered an important lesson to delegates on how to implement research in policy making decisions, especially in times of austerity and short term thinking.
Following these though-provoking papers, we offered our delegates an insight into the practical side of research, with tours of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage Lab where our students undertake their research and the Conservation and Scientific Research labs at the British Museum.
The second day of the conference left no less food for thought, with papers on such topics as how geckos could inspire adhesives for conservation (Jacek Olender), and how metagenomics can yield biological data to reveal how medieval manuscripts were constructed and used (Matthew Teasdale). Inspiring discussion about the role of the public in research and management of historic objects and sites, delegates also heard how crowdsourcing and participatory research has already been harnessed in a number of papers from Natalie Brown, Rosie Brigham, Paul Wilson and Alessandra Sprega. See the full programme of papers from the conference here.
The final day of the conference focused upon the future of the field. Our keynote came from SEAHA Director Professor May Cassar who explored the idea of a framework for what she termed a ‘heritage science economy’. Borrowing from the Nordic model, Prof Cassar argued for an economy of the field with enterprise at its heart and the creation of a market within which this can flourish.
We concluded SEAHA Conference 2018 with a stimulating roundtable discussion, in collaboration with ICOM-CC, on emerging professionals in the field. On hand to advise finishing SEAHA students and early career researchers were a panel of experts not only from the academic world but also from consultancy, conservation, and UCL Innovation and Enterprise.
Particularly salient advice from the panel how to sell the breadth of training that SEAHA offers its students to organisations, and the recommendation not to be scared of profit!
SEAHA Conference 2018 was organised by a group of SEAHA students, co-chaired by PhD candidates Yun Liu and Dzhordzhio Naldzhiev. SEAHA would like to extend our thanks to the student committee and to all student volunteers at the event, our exhibitors, and our 2018 sponsors.