Postdoctoral Research Scientist

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Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF)
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Application deadline: 
Monday, 27 September, 2021 - 00:00

The National Library of France (BnF) is looking to recruit a postdoctoral researcher for a period of 12 months to work on the project "ElaStomers identified by Pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry in museum cOllectioNs (ESPyON)", financed by the Fondation des sciences du patrimoine (French heritage science foundation).

Project partners
National Library of France (BnF), Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France (C2RMF), National Museum of Modern Art – Centre Georges Pompidou (MNAM-CGP), Interdisciplinary Centre for Heritage Conservation and Restoration (CRCRP).

Project description
The ESPyON research project involves the development of an analytical methodology and the preparation of a tool for the identification and characterization of rubbers in cultural heritage collections. Rubbers are part of the elastomer family of polymers. Their identification within collections is not straightforward and there are few scientific studies on this subject. Proper conservation of these materials depends upon a good understanding of their chemical properties and their behavior over time. In view of this lack of knowledge, conservation-restoration treatments are often avoided and pieces are left untreated due to the absence of precise information about the chemistry and degradation mechanisms of these materials. This project brings together institutions which have rubber materials within their collections and laboratories which use pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) for the studies of cultural heritage materials. The goal of the partners in the project is to build a tool for the study of rubbers in [cultural heritage] collections based on the drawing together of a large collection of references. The research will concentrate on the optimization of the analytical methodology. The use of open source programs will be prioritized in order to facilitate the sharing and exchange of data. Special attention is to be given to the interoperability of the methodologies used vis-à-vis the different analytical equipment in use in the partner laboratories.

Core tasks and responsibilities
The person recruited will participate in outreach to public institutions and industrial elastomer manufacturers in order to expand the corpus of reference materials. From an analytical standpoint, he/she will optimize the current analytical protocol used for the analysis of rubbers and complete the analysis of the reference corpus by Py-GC/MS. He/she will be responsible for processing the totality of the data collected, in terms of organization and exploitation of the data via different types of interface (Excel, "R", etc....). Discussions with the collections care staff and the other scientists involved in the project should help identify the level of information required to ensure effective use of data collected. The tool produced should therefore be capable of answering curators' and conservators' questions regarding the identification of the rubbers in their collections.
In collaboration with the other project partners and in particular the MNAN-CGP conservation team, the person recruited will also take part in developing a tool for recognition of rubbers, based upon direct observation and evaluation of objects in the collections. This basic tool will assist collection care staff in the on-site identification of rubbers and elastomers.

Desired profile
The desired candidate will have a PhD or engineer status in organic or analytical chemistry and a strong background in macromolecular chemistry/synthetic polymers as well as solid experimental and data analysis skills. Prior experience in management, organization and interrogation of data sets is required. A good knowledge of the interface "R" and basic notions of coding are desirable.

The ability to work as part of a team, with regular communication with specialists in different fields (chemists, computer scientists, manufacturers, conservators and curators), is required.

A strong interest in issues relating to the conservation of cultural heritage would be of value.

Job description
The person recruited will join the team at the scientific and technical laboratory within the conservation department of the BnF at Bussy saint Georges. Regular travel between the different BnF sites in Paris and the partner laboratories is envisaged.

The expected starting date is autumn 2021 for a period of 12 months. The salary will be in the region of 2000 EUR/month, depending on the applicant's experience.

Application procedure
To apply for this position, send a CV and cover letter to

Give details of previous experience relevant to the goals and tasks described in the job description.

Applications must be sent by 27 September 2021 at the latest. Interviews will be scheduled for the first two weeks of October.