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Two SUNY Buffalo State faculty members have boldly ventured where few academics have gone before.
Rebecca Ploeger and Aaron N. Shugar are among a select group of scientists and art conservators helping the Starship Enterprise to live long and prosper.
Ploeger, an expert in polymers and synthetics materials, and Shugar, a metallurgy and instrumentation specialist, spent several weeks analyzing and interpreting tiny samples of material from the model that served as the spacecraft in the original “Star Trek” television series. Their work comes as part of a Smithsonian Institution effort to restore the USS Enterprise to its 1967 appearance.
The 11-foot-long model – used in the filming of 79 Star Trek episodes from 1966 to 1969 – has been part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum collection in Washington, D.C., since 1974.
Ploeger and Shugar received a request last summer for their help on the project. Buffalo State is home to one of just four art conservation programs in the country, and Smithsonian conservator Ariel O’Connor, a 2009 alumnus of the Buffalo State program, reached out to the department for help in identifying certain adhesives and other materials that had been used in constructing the model.
Ploeger, a longtime Star Trek fan who grew up watching the “Next Generation” series, was thrilled by the prospect.
“I emailed my family saying, ‘I think I got the email I’ve been waiting for my entire life,’ ” she said.
Art conservators may be known primarily for their work with paintings, sculptures and other fine arts, but they handle a much broader array of materials with cultural significance, including historical objects, photographs, textiles, ceramics, rare books, manuscripts and maps.
For the complete story, go to the Buffalo News website.
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