Dr. Celia S. Chari is the Beal Family Postdoctoral Fellow in art conservation science at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at Harvard University


About Celia

Born in Madrid, raised in Dublin, my interests lie in material science and its applications: from aerospace engineering to art conservation. I received my MSc and PhD in Materials Science from The California Institute of Technology, where my doctoral work focused on the performance and degradation of advanced high-temperature ceramics, as well as historic ceramics.

I am currently the Beal Family postdoctoral fellow in art conservation science at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums

At Harvard, my work focuses on: using spectroscopic techniques combined with principal component analysis to non-invasively identify pigments in Indian manuscripts, studying light-induced alteration mechanisms of arsenic sulfides, and regularly carrying out scientific analyses on works of art within the wider museum.

My doctoral work at Caltech could be summarized into two categories: advanced materials for high-temperature applications and historic materials for cultural heritage science. More specifically, my research specialized on the processing-microstructure-performance relationship of ceramics, with the aim to better understand and mitigate the deterioration of ceramic surfaces from mechanical wear and chemical erosion. These studies were particularly useful for designing not only high-performing but also sustainable modern-day ceramics, while also better informing current conservation protocols within museum environments. 

Check out more (and links to papers) below!

Image from Hofer et al. “The H9 Magnetically Shielded Hall Thruster”, Presented at the 35th International Electric Propulsion Conference (2017)

Advanced Materials for Electric Propulsion

Collaborative project with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on synthesis and characterization of dielectric coatings for Hall thrusters used in electric propulsion systems. Includes examination of interfaces of the layered system to assess chemical and mechanical adhesion of the ceramic coating.

Image from Chari et al. "Oxidation resistance of AlN/BN via mullite-type Al₁₈B₄O₃₃". Journal of the European Ceramic Society (2022)

Oxidation Resistance in Ceramic Composites

Project studying oxide layers of Al18B4O33 on surfaces of oxidized AlN/BN composites. Compared to traditional AlN, introducing BN to the material protects it against oxidation due to interactions between liquid B2O3 and the composite, forming mullite-like Al18B4O33 whiskers and hollow crystals. 

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory. Teapot, 1723–1724. The Art Institute of Chicago. Seen in Chari et al. "Nanoscale Engineering of Gold Particles in 18th Century Böttger Lusters and Glazes". PNAS (2022)

Historic luster glazes and porcelain from Meissen

Project on Böttger lusterware, originally produced by the Meissen Manufactory in the 18th century. Involves replicating luster glaze and porcelain, comparing recreations to historic samples from Meissen. Investigates the optical origins of the purple, Au nanoparticle-rich luster layer using both microscopic and spectroscopic techniques.

Scanning electron image of porous earthenware taken by Celia Chari, showing interlocking aluminosilicate sheets

Degradation of Pottery Exposed to Acid Rain

Collaborative project with Prof. Rosenzweig’s group at University of Maryland, Baltimore County on experimentally studying surface interactions between sulfur-containing species and aluminosilicates. Aim is to identify potential degradation mechanisms of pottery exposed to acidic conditions by monitoring the formation of aluminum sulfate. 

My doctoral work was featured in the above video from Caltech's Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science. Watch it here!

Click below to hear my Icon Emerging Heritage Science Researcher presentation on Meissen porcelain glazes (Sep, 2022):