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Dr Katherine Curran

Dr Katherine Curran

Lecturer

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
14th Nov 2011

Research summary

Katherine's research interests include the conservation of modern cultural heritage materials, polymer chemistry and degradation, and the analysis of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from historic objects. Katherine is currently the Principal Investigator for the ERC Starting Grant funded project "COMPLEX: The Degradation of Complex Modern Polymeric Objects in Heritage Collections: A System Dynamics Approach" which will develop new approaches to understanding and modelling the degradation of modern polymeric materials in collections.

Katherine also supervises several PhD researchers including those focussed on the degradation of plastics in heritage collections.  Their research includes a study of the spectral dependence of photodegradation of plastic artefacts, the use of volatile organic compound (VOC) analysis as a tool to understand material degradation and the dynamics of plasticiser loss.

Katherine's work employs analytical techniques such as SPME-GC/MS, the use of portable mass spectrometry, and Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) and Near-Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy.

Katherine previously worked on the AHRC/EPSRC Science & Heritage Programme project "Heritage Smells".  The goal of this project was to characterise the VOC signatures (the "smells") of historic artefacts in order to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between VOC signatures and the condition, stability or potential hazards of artefacts.  This work enabled heritage practitioners to make well-informed decisions regarding the conservation and storage of "smelly" artefacts and to reduce the impact of harmful VOC emissions on museum staff and visitors.

Teaching summary

Katherine is Assistant Course Director on the MSc Sustainable Heritage at the Institute for Sustainable Heritage.  She leads modules in Heritage Materials and Assemblies and Sustainable Strategies. 

Katherine's teaching interests include material and environment interactions, condition assessment for heritage, the conservation of modern materials such as plastic artefacts, the application of scientific methods to the understanding of cultural heritage and the composition and degradation of cultural heritage materials.

Katherine leads the annual field trip to Malta for the MSc Sustainable Heritage.

Education

University College Dublin
PhD, Polymer Chemistry | 2009
University College Dublin
BSc, Chemistry | 2004

Biography

Katherine has worked as a Lecturer in Sustainable Heritage at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage since 2013.  She is Assistant Course Director for the MSc in Sustainable Heritage and the Principal Investigator for the ERC Starting Grant funded project "COMPLEX: The Degradation of Complex Modern Polymeric Objects in Heritage Collections: A System Dynamics Approach" which will develop new approaches to understanding and modelling the degradation of modern polymeric materials in collections.

Katherine joined the Institute for Sustainable Heritage as a Research Associate in November 2011, to work on the AHRC/EPSRC Science & Heritage Programme project "Heritage Smells" (see Research Summary).

From 2010-2011, Katherine received a Fulbright Scholarship from the Fulbright Commission in Ireland and worked with Prof. Jeffrey Moore at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign on the synthesis of macrocyclic compounds via alkyne metathesis.

Katherine obtained her PhD in polymer chemistry ("Pd(II)- and Zr(IV)-catalysed Olefin Addition Polymerisation of Cyclobutene-based Monomers") in 2009 from University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland and her BSc (Chemistry) in 2004, also from UCD.





Publications