PhD fellowship in High Resolution Mass Spectrometry applied to Cultural Heritage

User menu

University of Bordeaux
Job location: 
Contract type: 
Application deadline: 
Saturday, 20 June, 2020

The University of Bordeaux (Dr. Caroline Tokarski) is advertising a PhD studentship starting in September, 2020.
The project will benefit from the exceptional environment of the CNRS International Associated Laboratory ARCHE (ARt and Cultural HEritage: Natural Organic Polymers by Mass Spectrometry) with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, U.S.A. (Co-Directors: J. Arslanoglu, C. Tokarski).

Title: PhD fellowship in High Resolution Mass Spectrometry applied to Cultural Heritage
Tenure: Three years
Project running title: Methodological developments based on high resolution mass spectrometry for the analysis of intact proteins, their crosslinking and breakdown in cultural heritage samples

Keywords of the project: high resolution mass spectrometry, intact protein analysis and top-down proteomics, protein crosslinking, cultural heritage, museum collections – i.e. artworks, archeological objects.

Objectives: The analysis of Cultural Heritage samples is crucial for the understanding of artists’ technique, the conservation and the preservation of artworks. The studied artworks are priceless and the sample size available for analysis is extremely low, thus requiring the development of the most efficient, informative and robust analytical methodologies. The PhD project proposes to decipher the complexity of Cultural Heritage organic materials using unexplored developments in both chemistry and high resolution mass spectrometry to achieve structural information on the biological compounds (i.e. proteins) in their environments and to map their degradation state. One of the challenges is linked to the chemical decoding of the organic molecular network. Applied to the study of artworks, this information will have a major impact on the understanding of artworks’ construction, composition and degradation, and will aid in determining preservation conditions (conservation treatment and storage). This proposed research will exploit the latest technical developments in high-resolution mass spectrometry as well as alternative fragmentation modes (ETD, UVPD) for the study of intact or transformed biomolecules found in cultural heritage material. The major objectives of this PhD project are the development and optimization of: (i) fully-adapted and original sample preparations tailored to the study of very small sample amounts (trace analysis), to circumvent the complex inorganic/organic nature of the formulated materials of interest and (ii) top down methods to study proteins modifications, breakdowns, cross-linkings and their relationship to the surrounding matrix made of mixtures of organic and inorganic compounds. To help in this complex task, development of customized software solutions will be proposed in collaboration with bioinformatics experts (European collaboration). This PhD project will address specific questions about material manufacture or origin (i.e. to gain knowledge on the formulations of the master artists or societal information) and its degradation state (i.e. effect of particular conservation treatments). The candidate will have to interact with art conservators, historians and archaeologists from the partners’ museums within an interdisciplinary research environment. The project will require careful development of activities for public engagement as well as writing scientific articles, papers, reports or books, as appropriate.

Please find a full description and follow instructions for application here:

The CNRS portal for application has been extended to June 20th, 2020