Accessibility statement

Dr. Matt Pickering
Experimental Officer



Matt is the Chromatography Research Technician for the department. 

He has a Master’s degree in Chemistry (2005) and PhD in Chemistry (2009), both from the University of York. 

Following his PhD, Matt worked as a Postdoc in the fields of Analytical Chemistry and Archaeology at the University of York (2009-2015) before joining the Department of Environment and Geography. 

Departmental roles

Key Responsibilities

  • Laboratory support of environmental analytical chemistry research.
  • Providing technical support and training on analytical instrumentation to staff and students.
  • Responsibility for gas chromatography (GC-MS and GC-FID), liquid chromatography (HPLC) and ion chromatography instruments including maintenance, troubleshooting and analytical method development.
  • To assist the reporting of analytical data as a contribution to research reports.
  • Stock control of chemicals, consumables and equipment relating to the chromatography facility. 


  • Perkin Elmer Clarus 680 gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer
  • Perkin Elmer Flexar high performance liquid chromatograph with online photodiode array detection
  • Dionex DX-120 ion chromatograph
  • Dionex ICS-2000 ion chromatograph



Previous Research Projects

InterArChive: “Interred with their bones” – Linking soil micromorphology and chemistry to unlock the hidden archive of archaeological human burials

While organic materials were undoubtedly significant, widespread and varied components of human burials throughout time, for the vast majority of burials in the archaeological record these components have degraded leaving no visible traces.  The InterArChive project utilised a combined approach of soil micromorphology and high-resolution trace organic chemical analysis (elemental analysis, py-GC, GC-MS and LC-MS) to access the hidden archive of environmental and cultural information resting in archaeological grave soils.  This archive includes signatures of degraded body tissues, clothing and perishable artefacts, treatments applied to the body and gut contents.  The project investigated the effects of age of burial and burial environment on the preservation/degradation of organic matter for a wide variety of graves spanning a range of time periods, geographical locations and soil types.

Low temperature sequestration of photosynthetic pigments: model studies and natural aquatic environments

Sedimentary chlorophyll pigments and their alteration products are sensitive biological markers for the primary producer community and for specific palaeoenvironmental conditions.  This project investigated the origins of various sedimentary chlorophyll transformation products.  Sedimentary distributions were studied by LC-MS with online UV-vis detection and controlled laboratory reactions were carried out to study the formation of synthetic analogues of the natural species under conditions that simulate those in natural aquatic environments.  The mechanisms of their formation, revealed by the study, are informing future use of sedimentary chlorophyll pigments for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.


Selected publications


Usai, M.R., Pickering, M.D., Wilson, C., Manunza, M.R., Garbi, I., Pittoni, E., Brothwell, D.R., Keely, B.J. (2018) Evidence from burial sediments for prehistoric burial practice and ritual in Monte Claro chambered tombs: micromorphology, mineralogy and geochemistry.  Journal of Archaeological Science 100, 139-147.

Pickering, M.D., Ghislandi, S., Usai, M.R., Wilson, C., Connelly, P., Brothwell, D.R., Keely, B.J. (2018) Signatures of degraded body tissues and environmental conditions in grave soils from a Roman and an Anglo-Scandinavian age burial from Hungate, York. Journal of Archaeological Science 99, 87-98.

Witton, J.T., Pickering, M.D., Alvarez, T., Reed, M., Weyman, G., Hodson, M.E., Ashauer, R. (2018) Quantifying pesticide deposits and spray patterns at micro‐scales on apple (Malus domesticus) leaves with a view to arthropod exposure. Pest Management Science (doi: 10.1002/ps.5136)

Burns, A., Pickering, M.D., Green, K.A., Pinder, A.P., Gestsdóttirc, H., Usai, M.R., Brothwell, D. and Keely, B.J. (2017) Micromorphological and chemical investigation of late-Viking age grave fills at Hofstaðir, Iceland. Geoderma 306, 183-194.

M. Pickering, C. Lang, M.R. Usai, B. Keely and D. Brothwell  (2014). Organic residue analysis of soils. In "'Given to the ground': a Viking age mass grave on Ridgeway Hill", (Eds. L Loe, A Boyle, H Webb and D Score), Weymouth,  Oxbow Books 2014.

M.R. Usai, M.D. Pickering, C.A. Wilson, B.J. Keely and D.R. Brothwell (2014).“Interred with their bones”: soil micromorphology and chemistry in the study of human remains.  Antiquity, 88, 338.

M.D. Pickering and B.J. Keely (2013). Origins of enigmatic C-3 methyl and C-3 H porphyrins in ancient sediments revealed from formation of pyrophaeophorbide d in simulation experiments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 104, 111-122.

M.D. Pickering and B.J. Keely (2011).Low temperature abiotic formation of mesopyrophaeophorbide a from pyrophaeophorbide a under conditions simulating anoxic natural environments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75, 533-540.

S. O'Connor, E. Ali, S. Al-Sabah, D. Anwar, E. Bergstroem, K.A. Brown, J. Buckberry, S. Buckley, M. Collins, J. Denton, K.M. Dorling, A. Dowle, P. Duffey, H.G.M. Edwards, E.C. Faria, P. Gardner, A. Gledhill, K. Heaton, C. Heron, R. Janaway, B.J. Keely, D. King, A. Masinton, K. Penkman, A. Petzold, M.D. Pickering, M. Rumsby, H. Schutkowski, K.A. Shackleton, J. Thomas, J. Thomas-Oates, M.R. Usai, A.S. Wilson and T. O'Connor (2011). Exceptional preservation of a prehistoric human brain from Heslington, Yorkshire, UK.  Journal of Archaeological Science, 38, 1641-1654.

Pickering, Matt

Contact details

Dr Matt Pickering
Experimental Officer
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 324788