Daniel Kirby, Ph.D.

Daniel Kirby, Ph.D.

Daniel Kirby, Ph.D.

Primary Analytical Investigator/Scientist

Dr. Kirby worked for many years with IBM as an engineer, analytical chemist, development scientist and engineering manager. In the early 90's he departed IBM and began a second career in bioanalytical mass spectrometry in the Boston area, and became involved in protein sequencing, developing micro analytical techniques, and instrumental design. He has worked as an Associate in Conservation Scientist at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums, for the past 8 years.

Dr. Kirby’s areas of interest in conservation science include developing techniques and applications of Laser Desorption Ionization MS (LDI-MS) for the analysis of artists' materials, especially modern organic pigments; investigating approaches to obtaining information from paint cross sections with LDI-MS; and applying bioanalytical methods to the characterization of proteinaceous materials in works of art. He has published papers in peer reviewed journals on paint and pigment analysis with LDI-MS and, most recently, on the use of peptide mass fingerprinting for the analysis of proteinaceous materials in artworks objects of cultural heritage.

Over the past four years, Dr. Kirby’s work at the Straus Center has resulted in the donation of a LDI-Time-of-Flight mass spectrometer from the Waters Corporation, the first of its kind in a museum laboratory. He has developed and applied peptide mass fingerprinting methodology to a wide range of projects and artworks. In 2011 he organized and conducted a three day workshop on the use of “LDMS and MALDI for the analysis of pigments and proteins in works of art” as part of the MaSC Users Meeting (Mass Spectrometry and Chromatography User’s Group) held at Cambridge, MA. Ten conservation scientists from the US and Europe attended the workshop. Dr. Kirby’s current interest in applying peptide mass fingerprinting for the identification of species origins of proteinaceous materials in objects of cultural heritage developed from several collaborations with colleagues from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Conservation Science program and Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. His particular interest is developing new methodologies that can be used by “non-experts” in a museum laboratory setting giving conservators and conservation scientists access to levels of information not possible with existing tools of the trade.