View of the conservation lab.


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. This fellowship will introduce the candidate to conservation techniques for a wide range of composite objects, metals, organic materials, and painted surfaces.

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) will also be available.

This fellowship is intended to contribute to the education of recent graduates by allowing them to continue research into traditional historic objects and delve into the complexities of working with modern composite materials.

See our previous fellows and their areas of research. 

Candidate Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have a Master's degree in conservation from a recognized program and be able to conduct 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 proficient 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 $37,000 stipend, with additional funds for relocation, research related expenses, conference registration and travel, in addition to $3,000 for medical insurance. The fellowships will take place at the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Start/end dates: October 1, 2019—September 30, 2020
Funded amount: $37,000.00
Deadline for application: January 15, 2020

Note: Fellows have been selected for the 2018-2019 cycle. 

Fellows are responsible for their own transportation to and from the Center. Fellowships are offered every other year.

Application Materials Required

  • A brief research proposal. The research proposal can be related to collection materials or an evaluation of a treatment process (no more than two pages and 12-point font). Please include a budget request for research related expense, and conference registration. The maximum research allowance is $5,000.
  • 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.

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.

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.


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 show,  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 show, 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.