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 introduces 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 materials, refine treatment processes, learn time and project management, and conduct a research project of their choosing. The Fellow's independent research will be derived from our diverse collection. Fellows will be encouraged to publish or present their research at the end of their tenure.

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, is able to multi-task, work collaboratively, and 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. They must have the ability to apply 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). 

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 $45,000 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
Stipend amount: $45,000
Research allowance: $5,000 (Submit a budget request form as part of your application. You can download a Word document or a PDF.)
Deadline for application: February 15, Annually

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 research proposal (no more than two pages at 12-point font). Your proposal should describe:
    • Topics for research you find intriguing. Examples: refining treatment methods, or analytical process, exploring issues related to under-reported materials used for cultural objects or ethical issues.
    • Describe the methodology to be utilized.
    • The importance of the work both, in relation to the broader discipline and to your own scholarly goals.
  • Curriculum vitae including basic biographical information with current and permanent addresses, telephone numbers, and an 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. The letters must be received in SOLAA by the Feb 15 deadline. 
  • Pre-filled budget request form, amount not to exceed $5,000.

Due to the wide range of object material types in our collection, there is a large degree of applicability to whatever your interest may be. 

For questions about this opportunity please contact Lauren Horelick at HorelickL@si.edu.

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

Apply Now

Past Fellows


Kayla Silvia
Research Topic Title: "Houston We Have a Sticky Situation”: Investigations into the Adhesive Treatment of Coated Fabrics at the National Air and Space Museum


Emily Brzezinski
Research Topic Title: Adhesives for Cellulose Nitrate
Technical Study: Cellulose Acetate Recognition Model Environments
Conservation Assistant to: Gallery renovations for Space Age, Pioneers of Flight, and the Triage Project

Cellulose Acetate Aircraft Recognition Model


Kate Gabrielli
Research Topic Title: Iron Stain Reduction on Painted Surfaces
Technical Study: Curtis Gulfhawkaircraft paint analysis and stabilization, cellulose acetate aircraft recognition models storage VOC scavenger research, Skylab Orbital Workshop paint analysis and stain reduction
Conservation Exhibit Assistant to: Gallery renovations for Space Age, Wright Brothers, and the Triage Project

Kate Gabrielli examines iron staining on a Korean War Era missile.


Meredith Sweeney
Research Topic Title: Batteries in Historic Collections: Characterization, treatment protocols and storage guidelines
Technical Study: Evaluating treatments of painted surfaces affected by aluminum alloy corrosion, Diagnostic imaging of “Gilmore, the Flying Lion”, Radiography of the 1909 Wright Military Flyer
Conservation Exhibit Assistant to: Gallery renovations for Explore the Planets; Wright Brothers, Evaluation of new exhibit materials through Oddy testing, and the Triage Project


Karen Wilcox
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
Blog Post: Conserving Michael Collins' Apollo 11 Razor


Engen Fellow Karen Wilcox examines Flak-Bait’s invasion stripes.



Marci Burton
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
Blog Post: All Dressed Up: A Study of Stearate Growth Occurring on Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Leather Flight Helmet


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


Meghann Girard
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).
Blog Post: Conserving Artifacts from Command Module Columbia
American Institute for Conservation Poster Session (2018): Frass-Tacular: Textile Conservation Techniques Adapted to the Stabilization of Moth-Damaged Aircraft Fabric



Arianna Carini
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
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.
Blog Post: "Kiss Me Darling:" Conserving the Rituals of Dating and Dancing
American Institute for Conservation Poster Session (2018): Preliminary Evaluation of Lining and Surface Patching Techniques for Doped Aircraft Fabric



Christina Simms
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.