DR Petronella Nel

DR Petronella Nel


  • Application of instrumental techniques (Adhesives used on archaeological pottery)
  • Application of instrumental techniques (Pigment identification and quantitation)
  • Conservation of cultural heritage



  • Petronella Nel is a lecturer and researcher at the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation (CCMC) in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. She has qualifications in art and science with a BSc (Honours), PhD (Chemistry) and MA (Cultural Materials Conservation). She is involved with teaching and research programs at GCCMC. Her research interests include the non-invasive analysis of artefacts, and the development of scientific techniques to conservation problems. More specifically her current research involves:  the analysis and assessment of adhesives used to repair archaeological pottery; conserving polymer based materials (like plastics and film) in museum collections; the elemental and mineralogical characterisation of ochre-earth pigments using PIXE, XRF, XRD and NAA; and the development of the Chemistry Collection at the University of Melbourne.   


Member of

  • International Institute for the Conservation of Historic adn Artistic Works. Fellow 2017 -
  • International Council of Museums. Member 2013 -
  • Australian Institute of the Conservation of Cultural Materials. Member, Chair Conservation Science Special Interest Group 2004 -
  • Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Member 1989 -


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • ARC-DP0879758 (2008-2010): "Archaeological conservation: the development of analysis and assessment protocols for adhesives used on archaeological pottery".
    Investigators: A/Prof Robyn Sloggett (CCMC, UoM), Prof Antonio Sagona (Classics & Archaeology, UoM) and Deborah Lau (CSIRO). Research Associate: Dr Petronella Nel (CCMC, UoM).

    University of Melbourne - CSIRO Collaborative Research Program (2009-2010): "Compositional study of ochre-earth pigments based on micro-PIXE and micro-XRF - micro-XRD techniques by application of multi-pixel array detector technology".
    Investigators: Dr Petronella Nel (CCMC) and Dr Peter Lynch (CSIRO) / Dr David Hay (CSIRO).

    McCoy Project Seed Fund (2014): “Cellulose nitrate in museum collections: self-destructive cultural heritage – management of cellulose nitrate materials in museum collections”.
    Investigators: Dr Petronella Nel (GCCMC, UoM), Maryanne McCubbin (Museum Victoria), Helen Privett (Museum Victoria), Dr Andrew Jamieson (Classics & Archaeology, UoM), Dr Alex Duan (Chemistry, UoM), Dr Augustine Doronila (Chemistry, UoM), Rosemary Goodall (Museum Victoria), Assoc Prof Alison Inglis (Culture & Communication, UoM) and Deborah Lau (CSIRO-Materials Science & Engineering).

    AINSE Research Award (2014): “Indigenous art fraud: comparative characterisation of ochres from the Kimberley region and other sources by Neutron Activation Analysis”.  
    Investigators: Dr Petronella Nel (GCCMC, UoM), Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff (Flinders University), Assoc Prof Claire Lenehan (Flinders University), Assoc Prof Robyn Sloggett (GCCMC, UoM) and Deborah Lau (CSIRO- Materials Science & Engineering).   


Education and training

  • GCUT, University of Melbourne 2018
  • MTC, University of Melbourne 2013
  • MA, University of Melbourne 2005
  • PhD, University of Melbourne 1999
  • BSc(Hons), University of Melbourne 1990



Available for supervision

  • Y