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Aaron N. Shugar

Aaron N. Shugar, Ph.D.

Mellon Foundation Professorship
(716) 878-5025
Campus Address: Rockwell Hall 230


Ph.D., University College London 

M.S., University of Sheffield

B.A., York University


Aaron N. Shugar joined the department in January 2006 as our conservation scientist, focusing on inorganic materials and is currently the Mellon Professor of Conservation Science. Aaron came to us from the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, where he was a visiting scientist. He also served as Co-Director of the Archaeometallurgical Laboratory at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. With a Ph.D. in archaeometallurgy from University College London, Aaron’s work in the analysis of archaeological metals and glass has taken him around the globe, from the Middle East to Europe to Central America. You might even catch him on the Discovery Channel investigating the technology of 9th-century Samurai swords, on the History Channel's "Bible Battles", or on CNN discussing the forgery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Dr. Shugar's main interest is in historic technologies and he has lead multiple workshops here in the department on traditional smelting techniques with retired Professor Thornton called "Days of Fire" as well as helping to present a hands-on seminar to create Damascus steel. He has also made strides with the science curriculum adding hand-held XRF techniques as well as 3-D imaging scanning technology to help students gain a better understanding of the materials they work with.

In addition to his appointment here in the department, Dr. Shugar is member of the Graduate Faculty at the University of Toronto and was previously an adjunct professor at the Athropology Department at the University of Buffalo and the Forensic Chemistry Department here at Buffalo State College. He is a former Research Associate with the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, was a Guest Scientist at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), and has served as the President of The Society for Archaeological Sciences. Dr. Shugar also received the President's Award for Excellence as a Graduate Research Mentor in 2019 from Buffalo State College and has been on the Scientific Vetting Committee for The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) since 2018.

Recent Publications

Chapters in Books:
2019  Lisa Young, Aaron N Shugar, Malcolm Collum, and Christina L. Simms “Finding a Suitable Method for Chloride Removal and Preservation Storage of Spacesuit Gloves at the National Air and Space Museum” in Aluminum: History, Technology, and Conservation: Proceedings from the 2014 International Conference. (eds) Claudia Chemello, Malcolm Collum, Paul Mardikian, Joseph Sembrat, Lisa Young. Pg 65-70.

2018  Peters, N., Shugar, A., Skinner, L., Ploeger, R., & Ravines, P. “Microscopic observations to track the behaviour of cyclododecane crystallisation and the effect of crystal formation on fragile porous substrates” in ‘Subliming Surfaces: Volatile Binding Media in Heritage Conservation’, ed. Christina Rozeik pp. 67-78.

2018  Hamm, J., J. J. Chen, A. Shugar, R. Ploeger and K. Harada “Technical Analysis of the Painting Waterloo Bridge, Veiled Sun, 1903, by Claude Monet” in Monet's Waterloo Bridge: Vision and Process. Edited by N. Norwood. Rochester, RIT Press: 44-65.

2018  Shugar, A.N. “X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis of HM 1953” Chapter 9 in Real Fake: The Story of a Zapotec Urn. Edited by Justin Jennings and Adam T. Sellen. ROM Publications, Toronto. Pg. 176-189.

2018  Shugar, A.N., and R. Ploeger “Pigment and Adhesive Identification” Chapter 12 in Real Fake: The Story of a Zapotec Urn. Edited by Justin Jennings and Adam T. Sellen. ROM Publications, Toronto. Pg. 226-243.

2018  Shugar, A.N. “Extractive metallurgy in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant: Assessment of copper ores from Abu Matar”, in Ben-Yosef, E. and Goren, Y. (eds.): Mining for Copper: Essays in Honor of Professor Beno Rothenberg. Pg. 276-296.

Journal Articles:
2021  Shugar, A.N., Drake, B.L. & Kelley, G. Rapid identification of wood species using XRF and neural network machine learning. Sci Rep 11, 17533

2019  R. Ploeger, A. Shugar, G.D. Smith, V.J. Chen. “Late 19th century accounts of Indian yellow: The analysis of samples from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.” Dyes and Pigments, Vol. 160, Pages 418-431. ISSN 0143-7208, Impact factor 3.767.

2018  Chen, Jiuan Jiuan, Aaron Shugar, and Ashley Jehle. "X‐radiography of cultural heritage materials using handheld XRF spectrometers." X‐Ray Spectrometry;1-8. Impact factor 1.077.

2018  Urban, P., Schortman, E., Shugar, A. and Jorge H. Bueso Cruz “Investigando en el taller de cobre en el sitio de El Coyote, Departamento De Santa Bárbara, Honduras” in Yaxkin, Tegucigalpa Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia

2017  Stephanie Spence, Takaaki Harada, Athanasios Margiolakis, Skylar Deckoff-Jones, James Hamm, Aaron Shugar, Keshav M. Dani, Anya Dani “Applicability of Femtosecond Lasers in the Cross-section Sampling of Works of Art.” MRS Advances, 2(33-34), 1801-1804. doi:10.1557/adv.2017.242”

2017  Kathryn Reiko Harada, Aaron Shugar, Rebecca Ploeger. “Experimentation in Manufacturing Zinc Orange Pigment” MRS Advances, 2(39-40), 2135-2143. doi:10.1557/adv.2017.230

2017  Paige Schmidt, Aaron Shugar, Rebecca Ploeger. “Analytical Observations Regarding Butvar B98 and Paraloid B72 Blends as a Suitable Adhesive in Hot Climates” MRS Advances, 2(35-36), 1927-1941. doi:10.1557/adv.2017.229

2017  Rebecca Ploeger, Aaron Shugar. “The story of Indian yellow – excreting a solution” Journal of Cultural Heritage. 24 (2017) pp. 197-205.

2017  Takaaki Harada, Stephanie Spence, Athanasios Margiolakis, Skylar Deckoff-Jones, Rebecca Ploeger, Aaron N. Shugar, James F. Hamm, Keshav M. Dani and Anya R. Dani. “Obtaining Cross-Sections of Paint Layers in Cultural Artifacts Using Femtosecond Pulsed Lasers” in Materials 10(2), 107; doi:10.3390/ma10020107

2016  Ploeger, R. and A. Shugar. "Where science meets art." Science 354(6314): 826-828.

Recent Presentations

Conference Proceedings & Additional Publications
2020  Shugar, A.N. “Handheld Macro-XRF scanning: Collimators for Sub-mm Resolution” Fourth International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately October 20

2019  The Beginning to the End and Over Again: An Overview of the Occupation History of Ka’kabish, Belize. (Helen Haines, Kerry L. Sagebiel, Alec McLellan, Aaron Shugar, Cara G. Tremain, and Joshua J. Lockett-Harris). Paper presented at the 17th Annual Belize Archaeology Symposium, San Ignacio, Belize, 25 June – 28 June, 2019.

2019  H. Sobol and A. Shugar “Cadmium-Containing Corrosion Products on ICA Stretcher Bars – Identification and Abatement”. 47th American Institute for Conservation Conference, Uncasville, CT, May 13-17.

2019  C. Burns, J.J. Chen, R. Ploeger, A. Shugar, and T. J. Smith “The Conservator In The Age Of Digital Reproduction: Color Matching and Digital Fills For A Matte Screenprint”. 47th American Institute for Conservation Conference, Uncasville, CT, May 13-17.

2019  T. Anaya, R. Ploeger and A. Shugar. “The characterisation of materials used for Mexican lacquerware from Olinalà, Guerrero, Mexico” Technart 2019 Bruges, Belgium 7-10 May.

2019  A. Finnefrock, A. Shutov, B. Pollak, A. Shugar, E. Uffelman, B. Buckley and J. Mass. “The form is at its fullest when the colour is at its richest” Technart 2019 Bruges, Belgium 7-10 May.

2018  A. Shugar, R. Ploeger, G.D. Smith, and V. Chen. “A Spectroscopic Look at Indian Yellow pigment and Related Compounds.” IRUG13 conference. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Australia. Dec. 5-7.

2018  Ploeger, R., Shugar, A., and M. Lavelle, The evolution of conservation science education in the United States over the past 50 years.  Chemistry in Cultural Heritage 2018 (CHEM-CH), Bucharest, Romania, July 3-8.

2018  Lisa Ackerman, Jonathan Thornton, Dr. Aaron Shugar, Dr Rebecca Ploeger, and Jiuan-Jiuan Chen, “Technical Analysis and Conservation Treatment of a Mid-Eighteenth Century Chinese Carved Wood Lacquer Bodhisattva Sculpture” AIC’s 46th annual conference in Houston TX. May 29-June 2.

2017  Bruce Kaiser, Aaron Shugar, Chris McGlinchey, Jennifer Mass, and Kevin DeWitt “MA-XRF Scanning using Handheld XRF Spectrometers” 24th International Congress on X-ray Optics and Microanalysis satellite Workshop CH MA-XRF Trieste, Italy 25-29 Sept.

2017  Shugar, A., Ploeger, R., Spendel, K., Harada, K., and S. Goodman, A tale of two pigments: the characterization and synthesis of Indian yellow, and zinc orange from Toulouse-Lautrec’s early palette, May 2-6, 2017, Technart, Bilbao, Spain.

Posters Presented at Conferences
2021  Murray, A., Shugar, A., and R. Ploeger. “Online Resource for the Dissemination of Conservation Science Education”. International Council of Museums – Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC) 2021 Triennial Conference Beijing: Transcending Boundaries – Integrated Approaches to Conservation. May 17-21, 2021.

2021  Stephanie Guidera, Aaron N. Shugar, and Jennifer McGlinchey-Sexton “Identifying 3D Printing Manufacture Techniques” American Institute for Conservation Conference.

2020  Perrine LeSaux, Dr. Aaron Shugar, Jiuan Jiuan Chen, Dr. Rebecca Ploeger, and Theresa J. Smith. “The Characterization of an Artist Masking Agent and its Effect on the Paper Substrate” Poster, 48th American Institute for Conservation Conference, Salt Lake City, May 19-23.

2019  E. Robson, F. T. Beckett, A. Shugar, and J.J. Chen “In-Depth Technical Analysis and Treatment of a Floral Still Life Painting”. 47th American Institute for Conservation Conference, Uncasville, CT, May 13-17.

2019  C. Burns A. Shugar, R. Ploeger, J.J. Chen, and T. J. Smith “Characterization of Four Modern Papers”. 47th American Institute for Conservation Conference, Uncasville, CT, May 13-17. 

2019  C. Huisman; T. J. Smith, G. L. Frost, J.J. Chen, and A. N. Shugar “Antiphonary Refrain: a responsory of bibliography, conservation, and digital scholarship”. 47th American Institute for Conservation Conference, Uncasville, CT, May 13-17. 

2019  J. Munch, F. Beckett and A. Shugar “Structural Conservation of a late 16thearly 17th Century Panel Attributed to Paul Brill”. 47th American Institute for Conservation Conference, Uncasville, CT, May 13-17. 

2019  Shugar, A., “Advancing handheld macro‐XRF scanning: Development of collimators for sub‐mm resolution” Technart 2019 Bruges, Belgium 7-10 May.

Recent Invited Lectures

09-21-2016  Aaron Shugar and Rebecca Ploeger “Characterization of late 19th century artists' pigment from the childhood home of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec” SciX 2016 Minneapolis

04-13-2016   Shugar, A.N., Ploeger, R. and Lavelle, M. “The Evolution of Art Conservation Science Education in the United States” ICOM-CC Conservation Science and Education, Harvard Faculty Club, Cambridge MA, April 13-14, 2016.

05-17-2015   Aaron Shugar and Michal Mikesell “The identification of opacifying crystalline materials in ancient glasses, at “What’s New in Ancient Glass Research”, The American Ceramic Society annual meeting. 

04-07-2015   Aaron Shugar – Remote Guest Lecture – St. Lawrence University – “Experimental Archaeometallurgy”.

03-24-2014   Bruce Kaiser, Aaron Shugar and Jennifer Mass” WORKSHOP on Photon Physics—Principles of Portable XRF with Applications to Geology, Archaeology, and Art. At the GSA Northeastern Section 49th Annual Meeting, Lancaster PA, 23-25 March.

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Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department

1300 Elmwood Ave  •  Rockwell Hall 230 •  Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878-5025 •  Fax: (716) 878-5039