Nicole Mariel Declet Díaz is the Winner of the 2018 US/ICOMOS Murtagh|Graham Prize

Nicole Mariel Declet Díaz, pictured above, an emerging preservationist who recently graduated from the Historic Preservation program at the University Pennsylvania, has been selected as the 2018 Murtagh|Graham Prize recipient for her paper titled Testing and Evaluation of Soil Based Grouts for the Adhesion of Consolidated and Un-consolidated Painted Lime Plaster at the Mission of San Jose de Tumacacori. This prize, named to honor William R. Murtagh, Ph.D., and Roy Eugene Graham for their many contributions to preservation education and cultural heritage stewardship, is awarded by US/ICOMOS with generous support from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) of the National Park Service.

In recognizing Ms. Díaz’s scholarship, one member of the prize committee applauded the “concise and accessible analysis of a highly technical topic” with a belief that, given the preponderance of earthen architecture that exists worldwide, “it should prove invaluable to a great number of conservators.” Currently an intern at the Getty Conservation Institute, Ms. Díaz identifies an interest in “combining environmental and material issues to forge better approaches as a means to define what preservation practice might become.”  She will receive $2500 and US/ICOMOS membership for 2019.

The runner-up in the competition is Jessica Betz of Columbia University, pictured above, for her essay “The Influence of Glass Transition Temperatures on the Performance of Acrylic Thermoplastic Adhesives.” She will receive an award of $500. Jessica is currently Objects Conservator and Advanced Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University.

Other finalists included Mary C. Scales English of the University of Georgia and Erin Ward of the Savannah College of Art and Design. All finalists receive a one-year US/ICOMOS membership.

The 2018 Murtagh|Graham Prize Committee, overseen by Architectural Historian and SCAD Professor Jeffrey Eley, included James Hare, Director of the Division of Survey and Register at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR); Leslee Keys, Director of Historic Preservation and Special Initiatives and Assistant Professor of History at Flager College; and Thompson Mayes, Vice President and Senior Counsel, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Details for the 2019 Murtagh|Graham prize, open to member institutions of US/ICOMOS, will be announced soon. Contributions to support the Murtagh|Graham Prize may be made online at or by check to US/ICOMOS, 1602 L Street NW, Suite 617, Washington D.C., 20036.

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