Sandra Wilson

Prof Sandra Wilson

Professor of Ecological Metal Design

Staff Profile

My current research explores ways of recovering precious metals from electronic waste and how new value chains can be created for the benefit of local artisans and their communities. I am also interested in how these techniques of precious metal recovery can be used to develop new applications for example new alloys/ surface finishes. I am passionate about working with materials and the power of making. Silver and gold are beautiful materials with a long history and I am interested in the value of traditional techniques and approaches in addressing contemporary issues. Several precious metals are now on the European Chemical Society’s Endangered Periodic Table highlighting the importance of metal recovery and the need to develop more frugal ways of working with this valuable and culturally significant resource.
My trans-disciplinary research is funded by various research councils including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. Other funders have included the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh and the Goldsmiths Centre. My jewellery & metal design has won awards from the Audi Foundation and the British European Designers Group.
I am a full member of Visual Arts Scotland, Contemporary British Silversmiths and have freedom of the Goldsmiths Company.


e-waste; metal recovery; gold; silversmithing; metalwork; metal design; material sustainability.

Areas for future work

The value of traditional craft knowledge/ heritage knowledge for addressing contemporary issues.
Intangible cultural heritage
Frugal applications of precious metals
How values and beliefs shape techniques and technology of working with materials
Modern alchemy

External Activity

EPSRC Chemical recycling of electronic waste for sustainable livelihoods and material consumption in India University of Edinburgh; National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi, India.