Marta Zurakowska – Historic Buildings Materials Scientist, Paisley

GMT 18:58 Thursday ,04 February 2016

 Migrant Voice - Marta Zurakowska – Historic Buildings Materials Scientist, Paisley

Photo by Karen Gordon

I was brought up in Suwalki, the coldest place in Poland, situated near the borders with Russia and Lithuania. I studied Geology at the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan and later worked at thePoznan University of Technology as an academic teacher and consultant in Geotechnics and Engineering Geology. In 2006, my husband Bartek and I decided to move to Scotland. We now live in Paisley together with our two daughters, Ola (ten) and Natalia (three and a half).

The beginnings weren’t easy. Although I had a good command of English, when I arrived I couldn’t understand anybody. It seemed to me that people spoke with a Scandinavian accent. I felt quite lost. But those difficulties with understanding Glaswegians didn’t put me off. I was a frequent visitor in libraries where I was reading books about Glasgow, and where I had opportunities to talk with people who didn’t speak with such a strong Scottish accent. One day I went with my little daughter to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and, all of a sudden, we were surrounded by officials and cameras, and announced 2 millionth visitors. It was pure madness. We were featured in the BBC and in all newspapers. Since then we just loved Glasgow.

Just three months after my arrival I found a job at the University of Glasgow working in the Geology Department. When I was finishing this contract I was awarded with a stipend to do a PHD at theUniversity of Paisley, now the University of West of Scotland. I was chosen to do a PhD and conduct research on sandstone decay causes and patterns.

Glasgow has plenty of beautiful buildings, but sometimes they’re not very well maintained. Doing my PhD I’ve been looking at the causes of stone decay, and I came to the conclusion that most of the problems are caused by the lack of maintenance. I think that it is possible for building owners to stop immediate problems without a lot of money just by cleaning the gutters and pipes. If people stop water leaks over the facades it'll stop the deterioration as water won’t penetrate the stone. The results of my research will be applicable to inform future repairs and conservation works on buildings and urban regeneration programmes.

I am really excited that I am specialised in natural building materials analysis. My passion for ecological buildings together with the skills gained during my PhD studies come in really handy nowadays when the world needs low carbon buildings! I am proud that I am able to help prevent deterioration of sandstone buildings that are such important part of the Scottish heritage!


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