PhD Studentship, University of Leeds and Tate (UK)

PhD STUDENTSHIP, University of Leeds and Tate (UK)

  • Application deadline: July 3, 2017

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Program PhD studentship “Pigment-additive interactions in synthetic emulsion materials and implications for the conservation of modern and contemporary art.”

The University of Leeds, in partnership with Tate, is seeking to appoint a suitably qualified applicant for a full-time PhD studentship investigating pigment-additive interactions in synthetic emulsion materials. Of particular interest is the relationship between surfactants and the pigments used in artists’ paints and the implications for artwork condition appearance and conservation. Artists’ materials based on emulsions of synthetic polymers became available in the 1950s and 1960s and are used ubiquitously today. The most popular example remains acrylic emulsion (dispersion) paints. Other related materials such as emulsion-based varnishes and coatings, paint mediums, polyvinyl acetate paints, water-miscible oil paints, as well as related conservation materials are also widely used. Materials characterization will be across several length scales. Surface and interface analysis will form a key component of the work and is likely to include XPS, FTIR, electron microscopy and mass spectrometry. Surfaces will also be assessed for macroscopic changes in gloss and color saturation. The studentship is based at Leeds. However, some travel to Tate will be required.

Funding: AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD studentship including 3 years tuition fees (for UK or EU residents) plus annual maintenance grant of approximately GBP15,000 (UK residents only). Start October 1, 2017.

Supervisors: Dr. Elizabeth Willneff (Leeds) and Dr. Bronwyn Ormsby (Tate). Mentoring in Fine Arts by Dr. Judith Tucker (Leeds – School of Design), and in characterization of molecular materials by Prof. Sven Schroeder (Leeds – School of Chemical and Process Engineering).

Application: The successful candidate will have a degree in a relevant scientific or engineering discipline. It is desirable to have experience using a range of analytical tools appropriate for the bulk and surface analysis of emulsion materials including at least one of the following: spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and/or imaging techniques obtained via further study (e.g. Master’s degree) and/or work experience. An interest in the visual arts and experience working across a range of sectors including the heritage sector are desirable. Applicants with experience or interest in synchrotron-based analytical tools are encouraged to apply.

Request full project details and requirements for the position by contacting Dr. Willneff,; or download from

To apply, send the following documents in one email to with the subject line: “AHRC CDP PhD application – Willneff Leeds/Tate.”

  1. Transcript and certificate from your Bachelor’s degree
  2. Transcript and certificate from your Master’s degree (if applicable)
  3. IELTS score of 6.5 overall with no less than 6.0 in any skill area, or equivalent (if applicable)
  4. two academic references (name and contact details)
  5. CV
  6. A covering letter including a 500-word statement on how you will approach the research topic and what you would like to achieve during the project.