Sarah completed a PhD at University of York in the Department of Archaeology and went on to become an honorary research associate within the Department. Her doctoral research focused primarily on the application of digital recording and visualisation techniques within the scope of archaeological and heritage investigation, namely on how innovative approaches can best be used to enhance the understanding of the recorded cultural resource. She also explored the role of research design, the value of interdisciplinary research and volunteer-based recording programmes as well as the impact of technology transfer. Her doctoral work led her to additional research interests such as the digital survey and investigation of ancient rock art and medieval graffiti. In 2009, Sarah was elected International Student Representative for the International Congress on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies, Vienna, Austria and remains a scientific committee member today.
Sarah specialises in a digital imaging technique called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a multi-light imaging method that produces an interactive output used to reveal extremely subtle surface relief. While completing her PhD, she developed a set of guidelines for English Heritage on Highlight-RTI, a flexible RTI recording approach. She also uses a digital modelling technique based on photogrammetric and Structure from Motion (SfM) processing/ capture approaches which allow the generation of 3D geometry from multiple digital photographs. More recently, Sarah has been working on combining the two techniques in order to create Virtual-RTIs that allow 3D models to be virtually and interactively re-lit.
Although her doctoral and masters research have taken her in a slightly more digital direction, Sarah also has experience and strong interests in building conservation and material studies. She received a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. While completing her masters, she worked for three summers with the Institute of Classical Archaeology at a site in Ukraine where she undertook various conservation and site interpretation-related projects. During that time, Sarah also assisted the UT Programme Director with a successful Getty Foundation Campus Heritage Initiative grant as well as worked at HHM, Inc, an Austin-based cultural resource management firm. She then started her doctoral studies as part of the Centre for Conservation Studies at University of York which allowed her an opportunity to attend the various professional training courses they offer. More recently, the work that Dr Duffy has been doing in Sudan has allowed her to continue to collaborate on conservation-related projects.
Sarah is currently an Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology at University College London and has been collaborating on research in Jersey as part of the Ice Age Island Project, in Sudan with the Copenhagen University/International El Kurru Project (CUNE), at an ancient rock art site in Armenia with the Ughtasar Rock Art Project and at Happisburgh on an AHOB project in which early human footprints were discovered on the Norfolk coast.
Her work has appeared in Wired Magazine, The New York Times, British Archaeology, Nature, ‘Britain: One Million Years’ (Natural History Museum) and most recently on the BBC.