Aaron Shugar

Aaron Shugar

Professor and Bader Chair in Art Conservation

Department of Art History and Art Conservation

People Directory Affiliation Category

Research Interests

Aaron has wide ranging research interests related to the scientific analysis of art and archaeology.  He has ongoing research towards the development of non-destructive techniques of analysis including X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), fibre optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), hyperspectral imaging, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and Raman spectroscopy.  Aaron ongoing research interests include historic artist’s pigments and their degradation pathways, and inorganic material sciences as applied toward the study of ancient metallurgy, ceramics, glazes, glasses.  He also is interested in the technical history of artifacts and their manufacturing processes. 


Aaron received his honours H.B.A. in Anthropology and Law & Society from York University and his M.S. in Archaeological Materials from The University of Sheffield. Aaron received his Ph.D. in Archaeometallurgy from University College London.  He co-directed the Archaeometallurgy Laboratory at Lehigh University, was a guest scientist at NIST, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution.  He serves on the Scientific Vetting Committee for TEFAF and as a forensic materials export for the Court of Arbitration for Art.  Aaron was the Mellon Foundation Professor in Conservation Science at Buffalo State University, and he is currently the Bader Chair in Art Conservation at Queen’s University. 




Selected Publications

2013, Shugar, A. and Simmons, S. Archaeometallurgy in Mesoamerica: Current Approaches and New Perspectives published by University Press of Colorado. 

2012, Shugar, A. and Mass, J. Handheld XRF in Art and Archaeology published by Leuven University Press – Studies in Archaeological Sciences Series. Ed. P. Degryse. 

2023, Jennifer Mass, Vanessa Sigalas, and Aaron Shugar “Scientific Essay on the Shimmerman Collection of Meissen Porcelains” in All Walks of Life. A Journey with The Alan Shimmerman Collection - Meissen Porcelain Figures of the Eighteenth Century ed V. Sigalas and M. Chilton. Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt. Pg. 568-599. 

2023, Shugar, Aaron N. and Mass, Jennifer “Compositional Analysis of Porcelain Paste” in All Walks of Life. A Journey with The Alan Shimmerman Collection - Meissen Porcelain Figures of the Eighteenth Century ed V. Sigalas and M. Chilton. Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt. Pg. 600-617. 

2022, Anya Shutova, Adam Finnerfrock, Jennifer Mass, Rebecca Pollack, and Aaron Shugar “Table: Analysis of Pigments on the Barnes Foundation’s Paintings by Amedeo Modigliani” in Modigliani Up Close ed. Barbara Buckley, Simonetta Fraquelli, Nancy Ireson and Annette King. Yale University Press pg. 308-311. 

2022, Drake, Lee B., Elizabeth Mayer, and Aaron N. Shugar. “Uncertainty and pXRF Measurements.” In Advances in Portable X-Ray Spectrometry. Ed. Drake and B. McDonald. Royal Chemical Society. Pg. 447-489 

2022, Drake, Lee B., Aaron N. Shugar, and Evan Kipnis. “Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and XRF.” InAdvances in Portable X-Ray Spectrometry. Ed. Drake and B. McDonald. Royal Chemical Society. Pg. 490-534. 

2022, Jennifer Mass, Rebecca Pollak, Aaron Shugar, Adam C. Finnefrock, Silvia Centeno, and Isabelle Duvernois “Scientific Study, Condition Challenges, and Attribution Questions in Yves Tanguy’s Oeuvre” in Analytical Chemistry for the Investigation of Paintings and the Detection of Forgeries. Chapter 2, Pg. 47-94 Springer Nature Switzerland AG 

2019, Lisa Young, Aaron N Shugar, Malcolm Collum, and Christina L. Simms “Finding a Suitable Method for Chloride Removal and Preservation Storage of Spacesuit Gloves at the National Air and Space Museum” in Aluminum: History, Technology, and Conservation: Proceedings from the 2014 International Conference. (eds) Claudia Chemello, Malcolm Collum, Paul Mardikian, Joseph Sembrat, Lisa Young. Pg 65-70. 

2018, Peters, N., Shugar, A., Skinner, L., Ploeger, R., & Ravines, P. “Microscopic observations to track the behaviour of cyclododecane crystallisation and the effect of crystal formation on fragile porous substrates” in ‘Subliming Surfaces: Volatile Binding Media in Heritage Conservation’, ed. Christina Rozeik pp. 67-78. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.34063 

2018, Hamm, J., J. J. Chen, A. Shugar, R. Ploeger and K. Harada “Technical Analysis of the Painting Waterloo Bridge, Veiled Sun, 1903, by Claude Monet” in Monet's Waterloo Bridge: Vision and Process. Edited by N. Norwood. Rochester, RIT Press: 44-65. 

2018, Shugar, A.N. “X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis of HM 1953” Chapter 9 in Real Fake: The Story of a Zapotec Urn. Edited by Justin Jennings and Adam T. Sellen. ROM Publications, Toronto. Pg. 176-189. 

2018, Shugar, A.N. “Extractive metallurgy in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant: Assessment of copper ores from Abu Matar”, in Ben-Yosef, E. and Goren, Y. (eds.): Mining for Copper: Essays in Honor of Professor Beno Rothenberg. Pg. 276-296. 

2023, Jennifer L. Mass, Aaron Shugar, Adam C. Finnefrock, Satoko Tanimoto, Margaret Little, Renée Stein, and Ellen Archie, “Selenium-based black bronze treatment, as compared to other patination technologies of ancient and historic black bronzes” in TECHNÈ. La science au service de l’histoire de l’art et de la préservation des biens culturels, No 55 pg.64-74 

2023, Murray, Alison, Biggs, Kyna, Shugar, Aaron, Ploeger, Rebecca, Uffelman, Erich, Stols-Witlox, Maartje, Gonzales, Patricia, Smith, Gregory D., Loubser, Maggi, López, Laura Fuster, Di Pietro, Giovanna, Sah, Anupam, Nevin, Austin, Sardarli, Arzu, Wei, Shuya and Casanova-González, Edgar. "Conservation Science Education Online (CSEO) – A heritage science resource" Chemistry Teacher International 5, no. 3 (2023): 331-345. https://doi.org/10.1515/cti-2023-0013 

2022, Beckett, F.; Shugar, A. “Following the Light: Use of Multimodal Imaging and Fiber Optic Spectroscopy to Evaluate Aging in Daylight Fluorescent Artists’ Pigments”. Colorants 2022, 1, 208-225.https://doi.org/10.3390/colorants1020013  

2021, Shugar, A.N., Ploeger, R. and Lavelle, M. “A review of 50 years of teaching conservation science at SUNY Buffalo State” in Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, DOI: 10.1080/01971360.2021.1928842.

2021, Shugar, A.N., Drake, B.L. & Kelley, G. Rapid identification of wood species using XRF and neural network machine learning. Sci Rep 11, 17533 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-96850-2

2019, R. Ploeger, A. Shugar, G.D. Smith, V.J. Chen. “Late 19th century accounts of Indian yellow: The analysis of samples from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.” Dyes and Pigments, Vol. 160, Pages 418-431. ISSN 0143-7208,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dyepig.2018.08.014.

2018, Chen, Jiuan Jiuan, Aaron Shugar, and Ashley Jehle. "X‐radiography of cultural heritage materials using handheld XRF spectrometers." X‐Ray Spectrometry;1-8. https://doi.org/10.1002/xrs.2947

2017, Stephanie Spence, Takaaki Harada, Athanasios Margiolakis, Skylar Deckoff-Jones, James Hamm, Aaron Shugar, Keshav M. Dani, Anya Dani “Applicability of Femtosecond Lasers in the Cross-section Sampling of Works of Art.” MRS Advances, 2(33-34), 1801-1804. doi:10.1557/adv.2017.242”. 

2017, Paige Schmidt, Aaron Shugar, Rebecca Ploeger. “Analytical Observations Regarding Butvar B98 and Paraloid B72 Blends as a Suitable Adhesive in Hot Climates” MRS Advances, 2(35-36), 1927-1941. doi:10.1557/adv.2017.229. 

2017, Rebecca Ploeger, Aaron Shugar. “The story of Indian yellow – excreting a solution” Journal of Cultural Heritage. 24 (2017) pp. 197-205. 

2017, Takaaki Harada, Stephanie Spence, Athanasios Margiolakis, Skylar Deckoff-Jones, Rebecca Ploeger, Aaron N. Shugar, James F. Hamm, Keshav M. Dani and Anya R. Dani. “Obtaining Cross-Sections of Paint Layers in Cultural Artifacts Using Femtosecond Pulsed Lasers” in Materials 10(2), 107; doi:10.3390/ma10020107

2016 , Ploeger, R. and A. Shugar. "Where science meets art." Science 354(6314): 826-828. 

2015, Heginbotham, A., Bassett, J., Bourgarit, D., Eveleigh, C., Glinsman, L., Hook, D., Smith, D., Speakman, R. J.,Shugar, A. and Van Langh, R. “The Copper CHARM Set: a new set of certified reference materials for the standardization of quantitative X-ray fluorescence analysis of historic copper alloys” in Archaeometry Vol 57, Issue 5 pg. 856-868. 

2008, Porto, S., Shugar, A. “The Effectiveness of Two Cationic Fixatives in Stabilizing Water-Sensitive Dye-Based Inks on Paper” in The Book and Paper Group Annual vol 27: pg 63-69. 

2005, R.R. Chromik, D.-N. Wang, A. Shugar, M.R. Notis and R.P. Vinci, "Mechanical properties of Au-Sn intermetallics", J. Mater. Res. August, Vol. 20, # 8. pg 2161-2172.