Year of study:
Chemistry for Cultural Heritage
Chemistry finds its applications in a variety of fields, ranging from the pharmaceutical industry to the environmental cause. A chemist is an essential figure in the field of heritage science, due to the need to both understand and preserve our cultural heritage via chemical means. Heritage science, a relatively recent research area, focuses on the analysis and the conservation of historical artefacts, and that relies on interdisciplinary contributions from the humanities as well as the physical sciences. In my project, the discovery and impact of what is considered to be the first synthetic dye, mauveine, by the chemist Sir William H. Perkin in 1856, is used as an example to highlight the importance of conservation chemistry. Perkin’s mauveine became so fashionable during the 19th century, even Queen Victoria wore dresses dyed in the famous purple shade, and several stamps of the same colour were issued. However, the chemical structure of mauveine remained unknown until 1994, when chemists were able to determine its components thanks to modern analytical methods. The research focused on developing an outreach teaching unit for Advanced Higher Chemistry students with a focus on science communication and public engagement. My talk is aimed at highlighting this fascinating area of research that links the arts and the sciences together and the possible careers paths it provides for chemists.
My name is Adriana and I am a final year Chemistry student at the University of Glasgow. I was born and raised in Southern Italy, before I decided to move to the rainy UK because of my love for English and science. Growing up, I have always been passionate about history and art but did not realise these can be combined to the physical sciences until the beginning of my third year at university. Last summer I was able to spend six weeks at the University of Bologna for my research internship in Analytical Chemistry applied to Cultural Heritage. I have been determined to become a heritage scientist (yes, that’s a real job) ever since. In the future, I hope to work in the scientific laboratories of a museum and do more research in order to interpret and conserve famous artefacts. Among other things, I am a scout, street photographer, music nerd and failed bass player.