Dr Eleanor Schofield was a research associate at Kent in 2009, where she worked with Professor Alan Chadwick on the Mary Rose restoration project. She went on to work for the Mary Rose Trust where she is currently Head of Conservation and Collections Care. Following her appointment as an Honorary Professor at SPS, and ahead of her visit to the School on Thursday 29th November, where she will be delivering a lecture about the development of new conservation strategies for the Mary Rose collection, she tells us more about her life and work.
1. What is your current job?
Head of Conservation & Collections Care at the Mary Rose Trust
2. What does it mean to be an Honorary Professor at the School of Physical Sciences?
I was thrilled to be appointed Honorary Professor at the School of Physical Sciences. My association with the Mary Rose, and conservation in general, started with a Post-Doc position at SPS in January 2009. I started work at the Mary Rose Trust in 2012 and have continued to do vital research on the collection with Kent since then. Having this association with Kent now brings it full circle!
3. Can you tell us about the research you are doing with the School of Physical Sciences?
When I started working at the Mary Rose Trust, it was 1 year before the drying of the ship commenced, after years of spraying with a conservation treatment. It was my responsibility to prepare the ship for drying, and part of that involved working with Kent to set up a programme of experiments at Diamond Light Source where we could monitor the evolution of potentially problematic compounds that could form when exposed to oxygen. Next week I will be visiting SPS to do some experiments on the bricks from the Mary Rose, as they are potentially showing the same problems.
4.What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Direct, motivated, conscientious
5. What inspires you in your work?
There is always something new to learn! The collection I work with is so diverse and that means there are always new and interesting things to discover and problems to solve!
6. When did you first realise your interest/passion for science and conservation?
I always enjoyed science in school. There was something satisfying in hearing a theory and then using labs to see it in practice! My passion for conservation came when I joined the University of Kent and was working with the Mary Rose. There were just so many interesting artefacts and puzzles to solve – it was a Material Scientists dream!
“I was thrilled to be appointed Honorary Professor at the School of Physical Sciences.”
7. What would you say was your greatest achievement in your research?
Looking after the Mary Rose ship is a great privilege and something I am very proud to have played my small part in.
8. Which other areas of research would you personally like to study?
I recently have become more interested in biological sciences (genetics, microbes etc) from reading popular science books. I got turned off from it at school as I didn’t have a particularly inspiring teacher. It shows you how important your teacher can be!
9. What is your proudest achievement outside of your work?
In 2011 I ran the London Marathon – it was SO HARD, but I am massively proud to be able to say I did it.
10. What has been your greatest challenge?
11. If you could pick anyone throughout history, to discuss their research in physical sciences, who would it be and why?
Rosalind Franklin. She was massively overlooked for her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA. I would like to ask how she felt when she realized what she had discovered and whether it was possible to grasp the full significance at that moment in time, and also how she managed to carry on and achieve such wonderful things in such discriminating work conditions.
Thank you Eleanor for your time and answering our questions, and welcome back to the team at SPS!
If you’d like to learn more about Eleanor’s work on the Mary Rose, you can hear her talk “The development of new conservation strategies for the Mary Rose collection” on Thursday 29th November between 10-11am in ILT.
And stay tuned for our next member of SPS in next month’s newsletter.