UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


International Women's Day 2022 - Dr Katherine Curran

8 March 2022

For International Women's Day we asked some women from BSEER about how they got where they are today, what they’re most proud of and what advice they’d offer to other women working in a similar role, read about their experiences below.

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Around the world people are marking International Women's Day. We are joining them by celebrating the contributions and achievements of women in our department.

Dr Katherine Curran

Associate Professor
UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage

How did you get into your current role?

My background is in chemistry, but I’ve always been one of those people who enjoyed every academic subject, including history, physics and literature.  When I was doing my PhD I didn’t know that heritage science existed but when I found out about it as a field, it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to work as a scientist in a much broader and interdisciplinary context.

What are you currently working on?

I currently lead an ERC Starting Grant project called COMPLEX which explores the degradation of plastic-based museum artefacts. We are developing mathematical models of degradation processes to help inform museum best practice.

What work achievements are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of the COMPLEX project.  The research is very exciting and I’ve learnt an awful lot, about diffusion, modelling and museum storage but also about leadership and teamwork.  I’m also proud of it because it provided funding for several other researchers at PhD and postdoctoral level and supported their careers too.  As it has turned out, all of them are women – and they are an incredible group of talented and hard-working women.  I’ve been very lucky to work with them.

What advice would you give to other women working at a university in a similar role?

It’s a cliché but I am often struck by how often gifted women write off their achievements and see themselves as inadequate.  We set such high bars for ourselves that we are always aware of how much more we could have done, rather than focussing on what we have actually accomplished. I think we could all be kinder to ourselves and take time to reflect on how far we have come.