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Fellowship Description

The National Air and Space Museum holds more than 60,000 artifacts that represent three centuries of aerospace history from 18th century ballooning to current spacecraft. Large aircraft and spacecraft represent a small portion of the entire collection, the vast majority include equipment and small objects. The collection also includes 5,000 works of art, spacesuits, engines, textiles, toys, and much more. The Engen fellowship will introduce the candidate to conservation techniques for a wide range of composite objects, metals, organic materials, and painted surfaces. This fellowship is intended to contribute to the education of recent graduates by allowing them to delve into the complexities of working with modern composite materials, refine treatment process, learn management, and conduct a small-scale research project. The Fellow's independent research will be derived from our diverse collection materials. Fellows will be encouraged to publish or present their research at the end of their tenure. Access to other Smithsonian conservators, conservation scientists, and analytical capabilities at the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) may also be available.

See our previous fellows and their areas of research. 

Candidate Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have a Master's degree in Objects Conservation from a recognized program and is able to multi-task, work collaboratively as well as conduct treatments and research independently. The candidate should have knowledge of ethical and professional principles and concepts related to the preservation of objects in a wide variety of media and knowledge of the theories, principles, techniques, practices, and methodologies used to examine, study, treat, and preserve historic objects.

Applicants should have a proven record of research, writing ability, and proficiency in English language skills (written and spoken). Finalists will be invited for an interview and asked to submit a portfolio.

Fellowship appointments are for one year, with a one year potential renewal. They commence in the fall and include a $5,000 research allowance and a $43,000 stipend. The fellowships will take place at the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory at the Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Start dates: October 1, 2021 (exact date is flexible)
Stipend amount: $43,000
Research allowance: $5,000 (Submit a budget request form as part of your application)
Deadline for application: February 15, 2021

Application Materials Required

Applications are submitted through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA). Select the "Engen Conservation Fellowship" listed under the National Air and Space Museum to submit your application materials, including:

  • A letter of interest (no more than two pages at 12-point font). Your letter should describe topics or research areas you find intriguing and what you hope to achieve with this opportunity. Examples of topics or research areas include refining treatment methods, analytical process, or under-reported ethical issues. Due to the wide range of object types in our collection, there is a large degree of applicability to whatever your interest may be. Submit your letter in the “Research Proposal” field in SOLAA.
  • Curriculum vitae including basic biographical information with current and permanent addresses, telephone numbers, and email address.
  • Unofficial transcripts of both undergraduate and graduate courses of academic study. Please send an explanation of the evaluation system if your transcript is from outside the United States.
  • Two references from conservation professionals familiar with the candidate's work.
  • Budget request form, amount not to exceed $5,000.

For questions about this opportunity please contact Lauren Horelick at

We are excited about the opportunity to provide this fellowship experience and look forward to receiving your application.


Past Fellows

Using a lift to clean shuttle.


Meredith Sweeney
Engen Fellow
Research Topic Title: Neutralization of Dry Cell Batteries in Historic Collections; Treatment Evaluation and Storage Options
Technical Study: Diagnostic imaging of the 1909 Wright Military Flyer
Conservation Exhibit Assistant to: Gallery renovations for Explore the Planets; Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder (evaluating and executing treatments on painted surfaces affected by aluminum alloy corrosion); evaluation of new exhibit materials through Oddy testing

Four batteries

Batteries before conservation treatment.


Karen Wilcox
Engen Fellow
Research Topic Title: Preserving the Invasion Stripes on Flak-Bait, a World War II Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder at the National Air and Space Museum
Technical Study: Characterization of World War II era paints used for Invasion Stripes
Conservation Exhibit Assistant to: Apollo 50th anniversary exhibit; gallery renovations for Early Flight, Planets, America by Air, and We All Fly; deinstillation of galleries at the National Mall Building; Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder treatments (treatment of painted surfaces, aluminum and ferrous alloys); outgoing loans in support of the Apollo 50th anniversary; evaluation of new exhibit materials through Oddy testing

woman looks at aircraft paint

Wilcox examines Flak-Bait’s invasion stripes


Marci Burton
Engen Fellow
Research Topic Title: I’m Rubber, and You're Glue; Investigations into Compatible Adhesive for Elastomeric Materials (Rubber) in NASM’s Collections
Technical Study: A Study of Stearate Growth Occurring on Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Leather Flight Helmet
Conservation Exhibit Assistant to: Apollo 50th anniversary exhibit; deinstillation of galleries at the National Mall Building; evaluation of new exhibit materials through Oddy testing and lighting study of the Udvar-Hazy Center displays; Martin B-26 MA Marauder treatments (treatment of painted surfaces, aluminum alloys, and main landing gear tire); outgoing loans in support of the Apollo 50th anniversary

Before and after photo of tires

Details of Flak-Bait's main gear tire before and after treatment


Meghann Girard
Pre-Program Engen Fellow
Research Topic Title: Adaptive Textile Conservation Techniques Applied to WWII era Insulating Aircraft Fabric.
Conservation Exhibit Assistant to: Destination Moon, and preservation of insulating fabric on a Martin B-26 Marauder (Flak-Bait).
American Institute for Conservation Poster Session (2018): Frass-Tacular: Textile Conservation Techniques Adapted to the Stabilization of Moth-Damaged Aircraft Fabric



Arianna Carini
Engen Fellow
Research Topic: Cadmium Plating Corrosion; Characterization, Treatment Options, and Safe Handling.
Conservation assistant to: Artists Soldiers exhibition; SITES Apollo 50th anniversary exhibition; and the Paragon StratEx suit display.
American Institute for Conservation Poster Session (2018): Cadmium Plating in Scientific and Technological Collections



Lauren Gottschlich
Engen Fellow
Research Topic Title: Doped Fabric:  History, Deterioration, and Conservation.
Conservation Assistant to: Artists Soldiers exhibition; SITES Apollo 50th anniversary exhibition; the Paragon StratEx suit display; and preservation of Flak-Bait’s flight control surfaces.
American Institute for Conservation Poster Session (2018): Preliminary Evaluation of Lining and Surface Patching Techniques for Doped Aircraft Fabric



Christina Simms
Engen Fellow
Research Topic title: A Preliminary Investigation of Commercially Available Corrosion Inhibitor Compounds for the Treatment of Aluminum Artifacts.
Conservation assistant to: Boeing, Milestones of Flight gallery renovation.


Peter McElhinney
Smithsonian Postgraduate Fellow in the Conservation of Museum Collections
Research Topic Title:: Technical Study of an Experimental WWII German Plywood Aircraft; Characterization of wood and development of methods to stabilize fragile plywood.
Conservation assistant to: High Art; A Decade of Collecting and Hawaii by Air.

Anna Weiss-Pfau
Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Fellow
Research Topic Title: Technical Study of an Experimental WWII German Plywood Aircraft; Characterization of surface coatings and historic adhesives.
Conservation assistant to: High Art; A Decade of Collecting, Hawaii by Air, and 50 Years EVA: Beyond the Spacecraft.