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Dr Ruth Siddall
Huxley Building
UCL, Gower Street
Dr Ruth Siddall profile picture
  • UCL Student Mediator
  • Student Engagement and Experience
  • Vice-Provost (Education and Student Experience)

My current role at UCL is as Student Mediator (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/student-mediator/) wherein I work with students to find informal solutions to problems encountered during their university study. This includes using mediation as alternative conflict resolution, support and advice on pursuing complaints of bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment and misconduct and advising on the submission of formal complaints on academic and other matters. Prior to this I held the position of Dean of Students (Welfare) at UCL which had oversight of the institution’s student support services. I have also held the positions of lecturer and senior lecturer in geology in the UCL Department of Earth Sciences for almost 20 years.


My academic research interests are in mineralogy applied within the cross-disciplinary and broad research themes of cultural heritage. I consider myself as both a field- and a lab-based scientist, having worked on archaeological and geological sites in France, Spain, Greece, Italy and Egypt. My main interest is in the analysis and characterisation of pigments used by artists, predominantly in archaeological and contemporary painting. I have worked on the analysis of Roman-period painting throughout the ancient empire, on sites ranging geographically from Edinburgh to Egypt, and from the 2nd Century BCE to the 4th Century CE. I am also working with contemporary artists via collaborations with the Slade School of Fine Art and colourmen Winsor & Newton to better understand approaches to colour, materials and materiality within artists’ practice.

I have also worked extensively on characterising recipes and technologies of cementitious materials (mortars and concretes) in archaeological and historical contexts. This has also led to collaborations with archaeologists in the related field of ceramic petrology and the co-creation of a successful and long-running international postgraduate short course to introduce this subject with Vangelio Kiriatzi, Director of the Fitch Lab of the British School at Athens. I also have a specialist interest in the provenance of stone used in art and architecture, again in archaeological contexts and within the modern built environment and in collaboration with contemporary artists. I am actively involved in outreach and teaching on the relationships between of Earth sciences and the built environment – urban geology. This involves leading numerous geological walks around London and further afield, and I have self-published a number of self-guided geological walks around London and other localities. These can be downloaded from www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucfbrxs/Homepage/UrbanGeology.htm. I have also co-developed (with Dave Wallis, industry geologist) the London Pavement Geology website and App which archives building stones used in London and the wider UK; www.londonpavementgeology.co.uk. I have also produced teaching modules for the UK A-Level Geology qualification. 

Research Summary

My research interests are in applying techniques routinely used in the geological sciences to further the understanding and materiality of cultural and archaeological materials derived from rocks and minerals. These include the analysis and understanding of the use of stone in architecture, ceramics (pottery and cementitious materials) and artists' pigments in archaeological to contemporary use. 

My current research, in collaboration with Jo Volley, Gary Woodley and Onya McCausland at UCL Slade School of Fine Art is engaged with the analysis of ochres as pigments within the scope of the project ‘Turning Landscape Into Colour” and through the “Pigment Timeline” project which will construct an actual and virtual journey through UCL’s academic and research departments via their uses of and connections with artists’s pigments both spatially and temporally.  

I am involved in a number of ongoing projects which aim to identify the range of pigments and supports used in Roman British wall paintings over several sites (with Dr Rebecca Piovesan, University of Padua). With Dr Duygu Camurcuoglu, we are analysing wall coverings and pigments used in PPNB wall paintings at Cathöyük in Turkey. In addition, an ongoing research theme is with the Pigmentum Project (with Nick Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin) which aims to characterise and archive the range of artists’ pigments used globally.

Other recent projects include the analysis of stones and cements used on Westminster Abbey’s Cosmatesque Pavement, and the marbles and other decorative stones used in the construction of the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth (with the American School of Classical Studies Athens). Also at Corinth, I am working on the characterisation of cements an mortars used through the exposed occupation levels of the site. This work will be presented  via the EU-funded HYDRΩMED, hosted by the Université Aix Marseille, which studies engineering and waterworks in the 1st millenium BC Mediterranean. I have also worked on a number of archaeological surveys in Greece and the Aegean and am currently working with the Lechaion Harbour and Settlement Project at Corinth. 

My interests in petrology are directed to the study of the urban geology of London’s built environment and the a socio-historical use of stone as a building material; ‘psychogeologies’. I have developed a web-based archive with geologist Dave Wallis, ‘London Pavement Geology’ which records London’s building stones but with applications within the fields of architectural conservation, sustainable heritage and Earth sciences education.

Teaching Summary

My teaching has predominantly been focussed on mineralogy and petrology along with structural geology at all scales. I also teach postgraduate and CPD short courses on archaeological and art historical materials. 

Taught Modules at UCL

Undergraduate Modules

GEOL1002 Petrology to Petrogenesis 0.5 cu (Course organiser from 1995 to 2012)

GEOL2003 Geological Field Techniques 0.5 cu (Course organiser from 1995-2007)

GEOL2027 Structural Geology & Tectonics 0.5 cu (Co-contributor 2005 to 2013)

GEOLB276 Geological Archaeology 0.5 cu (course organiser 2000-2006)

GEOLC007 Global Tectonics 0.5 cu (contributor 1995-2000; course organiser 2000-2007)

GEOL3042 Independent Mapping Project 1 cu (course organiser 2001-2006, 2012-13)

GEOLC014 Geoscience Laboratory Techniques 1 cu (contributor 2001-2006)

GEOLM021 Continental Magmatism 0.5 cu (course developer and co-contributor 2002-2009)

GEOL3030 Active Tectonics 1 cu (contributor 2006 to 2013)

Postgraduate Modules

ARCLG123 Conservation: Materials Science 1 cu (contributor 2000 to date)

External Postgraduate Short Courses

• 2007: University of Fribourg. The Identification of Pigments Materials in Art and Archaeology. (1 week)

• 2010 to date: British School at Athens. Introduction to Ceramic Petrology. (an annual 2-week course)

• 2016-17: UCL Qatar. Artists’ Pigments: history, technology and an introduction to analysis. (1 week)

01-OCT-2013 UCL Student Mediator VPESA UCL, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2008 – 30-SEP-2013 Dean of Students Dean of Students UCL, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2008 – 30-SEP-2013 Senior Lecturer in Geology Earth Sciences UCL, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2006 – 30-SEP-2008 Deputy Dean of Students Dean of Students UCL, United Kingdom
01-OCT-1995 – 30-SEP-2008 Lecturer in Geology Earth Sciences UCL, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1993   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
1989   Bachelor of Science (Honours) University of Birmingham
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