Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Role Models

Doreen Stoneham

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Doreen Stoneham

Awards: IOP 2008 Gabor medal and prize


Doreen's ceramic antiquities authentication technique uses thermoluminescence (TL) which gives an objective guide to when the ceramic was last fired. It was pioneered at Oxford University’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (RLAHA), where Stoneham worked successfully developing research laboratory approaches into reliable commercial methods for combating art forgery. She developed a method of authenticating high-fired ceramics like stoneware and porcelains using a novel sampling approach.

Since TL depends on the radiation that the sample has been exposed to, it can be used as a dosimetry technique. Building on her extensive experience with ceramics, she was able to devise new dosimeters to measure radiation exposure at nuclear sites. As a result, she was an expert witness in crucial international evaluations of the Chernobyl and Hiroshima nuclear events.
When in 1997, RLAHA decided to move its research away from TL, Stoneham seized the opportunity to start a company to continue providing the commercial authentication service. Building on a reputation for unmatched technical expertise and for vigilance in refining techniques to beat the forgers’ tricks, Stoneham has won the trust of the international legal and art worlds. The result is that company has a world-wide clientele.

Doreen has published a number of papers and articles on subjects ranging from authenticity testing to scientific research on thermoluminescence, as well as making radio and television appearances and lecturing extensively. She has also been called as an expert witness in courts of justice in both the UK and US. In 2008 Doreen was awarded the Gabor Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics for her distinguished work in the application of physics in an industrial, commercial or business context.

Doreen graduated from Bristol University in Physics.

Mrs Stoneham is a rare case of one person very successfully commercialising complex technology from a small business on a truly global scale

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