Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Materials used in historic structures, especially the characterisation of historic mortars, and the development of new mortars for conservation. Characterisation of stone decay and its amelioration. Climate change impacts on and transformation and adaption of cultural heritage.


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

My specialism is in the composition and properties of construction geomaterials, particularly of historic buildings. I research the properties of mortars and stone in old buildings to help conserve them better. I have taught earth science, covering the fundamentals and field courses and now teach geology to Civil Engineering students, and the properties of construction materials.

I was the secretary to RILEM technical committee TC-RHM “Repair Mortars for Historic Masonry”, was a member of TC-SGM, “Specifications for Non-Structural grouting of historic masonries and architectural surfaces”, and now of TC-LHS "Specifications for testing and evaluation of lime-based materials for historic structures. I am also a member of the Applied Petrography Group of the Geological Society of London, the ICOMOS - ISCS International Scientific Committee for Stone and the Permanent Scientific Committee of the International Stone Congresses.

I currently fulfil the following roles for the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences:

- Postgraduate Research Student Coordinator

- Chair of the Ethics Committee

- Coordinator for REF submission for UoA 12 Engineering.

Current research activities

My recent research awards include AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Research Cluster (2009-10), as a partner in the EU "HEROMAT" 7thFP funded project (2011-2015) and a further AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme Research Development Award (2013-14). This project "Materiality, authenticity and value in the historic environment: a study of the effects of material transformation and scientific intervention" involved working closely with anthropologists and ethnographers to understand how science use in heritage affects the way we value historic buildings and sites. I recently led an EU funded IPERION CH MOLAB visit to characterise the consequences for the stone walls of the fire-damaged Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building.

I have organised several conferences on construction materials: Historic Mortars 1999, Nanotechnology in Construction 2003, the 10th Euroseminar on Microscopy Applied to Building Materials 2005, the 3rd Historic Mortars Conference 2013 and most recently the 13th Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone September 2016.


Desired research direction

To continue to develop interdisciplinary links in the area of Cultural Heritage, whilst maintaining an emphaisis on material characterisation and performance issues.

External positions

Conservation Guest Scholar, The Getty Conservation Institute

2021 → …

International Advisory Committee, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic: Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics

1 Jan 201931 Dec 2023

Board Member - Treasurer, ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for Stone

17 Dec 2018 → …

Fellow of the Geological Society, Geological Society of London

18 Apr 2018 → …

Permanent Scientific Committee, International Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone

2016 → …

External Examiner: Masters Programme in Heritage Science, Queen's University Belfast

1 Jun 20111 Nov 2015


  • QE Geology
  • Petrography
  • geochemistry
  • TH Building construction
  • Mortar
  • Stone
  • Heritage
  • Heritage Science
  • Cultural Heritage
  • climate change

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Research Output

An integrated approach for assessing the vulnerability of World Heritage Sites to climate change impacts

Sesana, E., Gagnon, A., Bonazza, A. & Hughes, J., 1 Feb 2020, In : Journal of Cultural Heritage. 41, p. 211-224 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 4 Citations (Scopus)
    15 Downloads (Pure)

    Lime binders for the repair of historic buildings: considerations for CO2 abatement

    Forster, A. M., Válek, J., Hughes, J. J. & Pilcher, N., 10 Apr 2020, In : Journal of Cleaner Production. 252, 10 p., 119802.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  • 1 Citation (Scopus)

    Analysis of two mortar samples from the ruined site of a Sasanian palace and Il-khānid caravanserai, Bisotun, Iran

    Kemp, J. & Hughes, J., Aug 2019, Afarin Nameh : Essays on the Archaeology of Iran in Honour of Mehdi Rahbar. Moradi, Y. (ed.). Tehran: The Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, p. 203-206 4 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Open Access
  • 38 Downloads (Pure)

    Animal, vegetable or mineral? Characterising shell-lime, maerl-lime and limestone-lime mortar evidence from the Late Norse and Medieval site of Tuquoy, Orkney

    Thacker, M., Hughes, J. & Odling, N., 19 Jun 2019, p. 107-107. 1 p.

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

    Open Access
  • Animal, vegetable or mineral? Characterising shell-lime, maerl-lime and limestone-lime mortar evidence from the Late Norse and Medieval site of Tuquoy, Orkney

    Thacker, M., Hughes, J. & Odling, N., 16 Jul 2019, Proceedings of the 5th Historic Mortars Conference: RILEM Proceedings PRO 130. Alvarez, J. I., Fernandez, J. M., Navarro, I., Duran, A. & Sirera, R. (eds.). Paris: RILEM Publications S.A.R.L., Vol. PRO 130. p. 758-777 20 p. (RILEM Proceedings; vol. 130).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
  • 39 Downloads (Pure)


    Getty Conservation Institute, Conservation Guest Scholar

    John Hughes (Recipient)

    1 Sep 20211 Dec 2021

    Activity: OtherTypes of Award - Fellowship awarded competitively

    Stone- Material science, mineral composition and characterization

    John Hughes (Speaker)

    2 Jun 2020

    Activity: OtherTypes of Business and Community - CPD delivery/organisation of courses for externals (in kind)

    Chair PhD Viva

    John Hughes (Chair)

    10 Jun 2020

    Activity: OtherTypes of Award - Other distinction

    Research Proposal Peer Review

    John Hughes (Reviewer)

    31 Aug 2020

    Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Membership of peer review panel or committee