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Chemist Dr Joen Hermans has been appointed as an assistant professor of Conservation Science at the University of Amsterdam. This position is a joint initiative by the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) at the Faculty of Humanities, and the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) at the Faculty of Science. Until now, Hermans worked at HIMS as a research assistant professor on a NWO Veni grant.

This new position strengthens the bridge between the two faculties in research and teaching on materials used in cultural heritage. At the 4-year Conservation & Restoration program of the Faculty of Humanities, students are trained to become conservation experts. As part of this program, they follow several courses on the chemistry and physics of artistic materials like paints, metals, wood, textiles and materials applied during conservation treatments. Hermans will be actively involved with teaching and course development in this program. Being part of AHM, he will also set up and supervise research projects that aim to bring the latest chemical insights into conservation practice.

Dr Joen Hermans. Photo: HIMS.

At HIMS, this new position serves to consolidate the continuing research effort on the fundamental chemistry of cultural heritage materials. Together with Prof. Maarten van Bommel and Prof. Katrien Keune (both part-time appointed at HIMS), Hermans will represent the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS) within the Faculty of Science. At HIMS, Hermans will develop research lines to monitor and predict the changing chemistry of oil paint during conservation treatments and as a consequence of environmental conditions. This research combines spectroscopy, computational simulations and polymer model system synthesis, and as such forms a natural link between the existing research themes of HIMS.

Dr Joen Hermans studied Chemistry at Utrecht University. In 2017, he obtained his PhD cum laude at the University of Amsterdam under supervision of professors Piet Iedema and Katrien Keune, studying the phenomenon of metal soap formation in oil paintings. Since completing his PhD, Joen has held a research position at the Conservation & Science department of the Rijksmuseum. In 2018, he was awarded a NWO Veni grant to study the effects of water on oil paint chemistry on a molecular scale, in collaboration with prof. Sander Woutersen.