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Ouachita Stories


Ouachita to host Dr. Gregory Smith in Nell Mondy Lecture Series April 23

News graphicApril 13, 2018 - Addy Goodman

GSOuachita Baptist University’s J.D. Patterson School of Natural Sciences will host Dr. Gregory Smith, the Otto N. Frenzel III Senior Conservation Scientist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, on Monday, April 23. The lecture, “Solving Art Mysteries through Chemistry,” will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Ouachita’s Walker Conference Center and is free and open to the public.

The Nell Mondy Lecture Series provides participants the opportunity “to see some really cool applications of science in the real world,” said Dr. Sara Hubbard, associate professor of chemistry. “We all have preconceived notions about what science is and if it matters to us. The thing is, there are lots of ways to do science, and science shows up everywhere in everything we do.”

Smith will speak about his use of science to unravel mysteries surrounding the artworks at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. Using a range of spectroscopic, chromatographic and imaging techniques, his team employs the tools of chemistry to discover lost paintings, explore the material history of objects and detect forgeries. The lecture will explore the various roles that chemists can play in a fine arts museum, culminating in recent research into the world’s oldest manmade pigment, Egyptian blue, first synthesized in 3200 B.C. As a result of this research, this ancient pigment has been repurposed as a luminescent fingerprint dusting powder to catch modern-day criminals.

Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in anthropology/sociology and chemistry from Centre College before pursuing graduate studies at Duke University in time-domain vibrational spectroscopy and archaeological fieldwork. His postgraduate training included investigations of pigment degradation processes and palette studies of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum, development of synchrotron infrared microscopy facilities at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven and researching cleaning issues related to artists’ acrylic emulsion paints at the National Gallery of Art.

Smith joined the faculty of the conservation training program at Buffalo State College in 2004 as the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Conservation Science. In 2010, he was named the senior conservation scientist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he has constructed a state-of-the-art research facility to study and preserve the museum’s encyclopedic collection of nearly 56,000 works of art.

The endowed Nell Mondy Lecture Series was established in 1991 by the late Dr. Nell Mondy, a 1943 Ouachita alumna. Dr. Mondy was a worldwide consultant on food chemistry and nutrition and was professor of nutritional foods, food science and toxicology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

For more information, contact Dr. Sara Hubbard at hubbards@obu.edu or (870) 245-5533.


By Addy Goodman

April 13, 2018