- Deputy School Director of Teaching and Learning
- Module convenor for Research Training for Geography and Environmental Science (GES)
- Undergraduate teaching and supervision
- PhD supervision
- Research into abrupt past environmental change using annually resolved lake records
Areas of interest
- Abrupt past climate and environmental change during the Quaternary
- Annually-resolved lake records
- Tephrochronology and volcanism
- Integration of chronological techniques
Alison supervises students at the University of Plymouth and the Royal Holloway University of London.
Alison is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Current teaching includes:
- Geomorphology (Part 1)
- Natural Hazards (Part 2)
- Research Training for Geography and Environmental Science (Part 2 – module convenor)
- Undergraduate dissertation supervision on past environmental change and volcanic hazards
Research centres and groupsEnvironmental Science Research Division
Alison’s research into Quaternary environmental change developed from a background in geoscience and glacial geomorphology and the reconstruction of former ice masses within the UK.
This focus has evolved over the years to consider rates of landscape response to significant and abrupt climatic shifts. It is this aspect that her PhD research investigated and which led to the publication of two of the first annually-resolved records of abrupt climate change from the UK (MacLeod et al., 2011; Palmer et al., 2010) and a successful application to the Leverhulme Trust’s Early Career Fellowship scheme (based at RHUL).
This work demonstrated that previous models of landscape response to abrupt changes suffered from considerable uncertainties which limited their usefulness.
In the terrestrial environment, frequently low-resolution or fragmentary records often inhibit identification and analysis of key climatic events. Alison’s research focuses the investigation of long, high-resolution lake records from climatically sensitive regions (predominantly the UK and Sweden), and aims to quantify the response rates of landscapes to rapid climate shifts in the past.
In carrying out her research, Alison applies a range of established (thin section, image analysis) and novel (XRF corescanning) techniques in conjunction with cutting-edge chronological approaches and statistical measures (radiocarbon dating, Bayesian age modelling and tephrochronology – volcanic ash stratigraphy and chronology).
The overall aim of her work is to provide high-resolution and high-quality data sets which will contribute to characterising the response of different components of the climate system to such change.
Ultimately, it is hoped this data will help climate modellers and scientists to better understand the mechanisms driving and propagating high-magnitude, abrupt shifts in climate and to assist in forecasting the potential impacts of future climate change.
Prior to joining the University of Reading in 2017, Alison obtained her undergraduate degree in Geoscience from the University of St. Andrews, her MSc and PhD in Quaternary Science from Royal Holloway University of London and has held academic and postgraduate fellowship positions at Royal Holloway and Plymouth University.
You can follow Alison on Twitter @alimacmatth.
- Carey, C. , White, H. , Macphail, R. , Bray, L. , Scaife, R. , Coyle McClung, L. , MacLeod, A. (2020) Analysis of prehistoric brown earth paleosols under the podzol soils of Exmoor, UK. Geoarchaeology , 35 (5). pp. 772-799. ISSN: 1520-6548 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gea.21789
- McLean, D. , Albert, P. , Suzuki, T. , Nakagawa, T. , Kimura, J. , Chang, Q. , MacLeod, A. , Blockley, S. , Staff, R. , Yamada, K. , Kitaba, I. , Haraguchi, T. , Kitagawa, J. , SG14 Project Members , Smith, V. (2020) Refining the eruptive history of Ulleungdo and Changbaishan volcanoes (East Asia) over the last 86 kyrs using distal sedimentary records. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 389 ISSN: 0377-0273 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2019.106669
- Timms, R. , Matthews, I. , Lowe, J. , Palmer, A. , Weston, D. , MacLeod, A. , Blockley, S. (2019) Establishing tephrostratigraphic frameworks to aid the study of abrupt climatic and glacial transitions: a case study of the Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition in the British Isles (c. 16-8 ka BP). Quaternary Science Reviews , 192 pp. 34-64. ISSN: 0277-3791 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2019.01.003
- Palmer, A. , Bendle, J. , MacLeod, A. , Rose, J. , Thorndycraft, V. (2019) The micromorphology of glaciolacustrine varve sediments and their use for reconstructing palaeoglaciological and palaeoenvironmental change. Quaternary Science Reviews , 226 ISSN: 0277-3791 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.105964
- Blockley, S. , Candy, I. , Matthews, I. , Langdon, P. , Langdon, C. , Palmer, A. , Lincoln, P. , Abrook, A. , Taylor, B. , Conneller, C. , Bayliss, A. , MacLeod, A. , Deeprose, L. , Darvill, C. , Kearney, R. , Beavan, N. , Staff, R. , Bamforth, M. , Taylor, M. , Milner, N. (2018) The resilience of postglacial hunter-gatherers to abrupt climate change. Nature Ecology & Evolution , 2 (5). pp. 810-818. ISSN: 2397-334X | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0508-4
- Candy, I. , Palmer, A. , Blockley, S. , Matthews, I. , MacLeod, A. , Farley, N. , Farry, A. , Kearney, R. , Abrook, A. , Darvill, C. (2017) δ13C and δ18O analysis of lacustrine marls from Palaeolake Flixton. In: Lincoln, P. , Eddey, L. , Matthews, I. , Palmer, A. , Bateman, M. , (eds.) The Quaternary of the Vale of Pickering: Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association , London, UK. pp. 135-139. ISBN: 9780907780245
- Lowe, J. , Palmer, A. , Carter-Champion, A. , MacLeod, A. , Ramírez-Rojas, I. , Timms, R. (2017) Stratigraphy of a Lateglacial lake basin sediment sequence at Turret Bank, upper Glen Roy, Lochaber: implications for the age of the Turret Fan. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association , 128 (1). pp. 110-124. ISSN: 0016-7878 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pgeola.2016.12.008
- Muschitiello, F. , Lea, J. , Greenwood, S. , Nick, F. , Brunnberg, L. , MacLeod, A. , Wohlfarth, B. (2016) Timing of the first drainage of the Baltic Ice Lake synchronous with the onset of Greenland Stadial 1. Boreas , 45 (2). pp. 322-334. ISSN: 0300-9483 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bor.12155
- MacLeod, A. and Davies, S. (2016) Caution in cryptotephra correlation: resolving Lateglacial chemical controversies at Sluggan Bog, Northern Ireland. Journal of Quaternary Science , 31 (4). pp. 406-415. ISSN: 0267-8179 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jqs.2858
- Palmer, A. , Matthews, I. , Candy, I. , Blockley, S. , MacLeod, A. , Darvill, C. , Milner, N. , Conneller, C. , Taylor, B. (2015) The evolution of Palaeolake Flixton and the environmental context of Star Carr, NE. Yorkshire: stratigraphy and sedimentology of the Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition (LGIT) lacustrine sequences. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association , 126 (1). pp. 50-59. ISSN: 0016-7878 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pgeola.2014.10.002
- MacLeod, A. , Matthews, I. , Lowe, J. , Palmer, A. , Albert, P. (2015) A second tephra isochron for the Younger Dryas period in northern Europe: the Abernethy Tephra. Quaternary Geochronology , 28 pp. 1-11. ISSN: 1871-1014 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quageo.2015.03.010
- Matthews, I. , Trincardi, F. , Lowe, J. , Bourne, A. , MacLeod, A. , Abbott, P. , Andersen, N. , Asioli, A. , Blockley, S. , Lane, C. , Oh, Y. , Satow, C. , Staff, R. , Wulf, S. (2015) Developing a robust tephrochronological framework for Late Quaternary marine records in the Southern Adriatic Sea: new data from core station SA03-11. Quaternary Science Reviews , 118 pp. 84-104. ISSN: 0277-3791 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.10.009
- Blockley, S. , Bourne, A. , Brauer, A. , Davies, S. , Hardiman, M. , Harding, P. , Lane, C. , MacLeod, A. , Matthews, I. , Pyne-O’Donnell, S. , Rasmussen, S. , Wulf, S. , Zanchetta, G. (2014) Tephrochronology and the extended intimate (integration of ice-core, marine and terrestrial records) event stratigraphy 8–128 ka b2k. Quaternary Science Reviews , 106 pp. 88-100. ISSN: 0277-3791 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.11.002
- Bronk Ramsey, C. , Albert, P. , Blockley, S. , Hardiman, M. , Lane, C. , MacLeod, A. , Matthews, I. , Muscheler, R. , Palmer, A. , Staff, R. (2014) Integrating timescales with time-transfer functions: a practical approach for an INTIMATE database. Quaternary Science Reviews , 106 pp. 67-80. ISSN: 0277-3791 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.05.028
- MacLeod, A. , Brunnberg, L. , Wastegard, S. , Hang, T. , Matthews, I. (2014) Lateglacial cryptotephra detected within clay varves in Östergötland, south-east Sweden. Journal of Quaternary Science , 29 (7). pp. 605-609. ISSN: 0267-8179 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jqs.2738
- Adler, D. , Wilkinson, K. , Blockley, S. , Mark, D. , Pinhasi, R. , Schmidt-Magee, B. , Nahapetyan, S. , Mallol, C. , Berna, F. , Glauberman, P. , Raczynski-Henk, Y. , Wales, N. , Frahm, E. , Joris, O. , MacLeod, A. , Smith, V. , Cullen, V. , Gasparian, B. (2014) Early Levallois technology and the Lower to Middle Paleolithic transition in the Southern Caucasus. Science , 345 (6204). pp. 1609-1613. ISSN: 1095-9203 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1256484
- Housley, R. , MacLeod, A. , Armitage, S. , Kabaciński, J. , Gamble, C. (2014) The potential of cryptotephra and OSL dating for refining the chronology of open-air archaeological windblown sand sites: a case study from Mirkowice 33, northwest Poland. Quaternary Geochronology , 20 pp. 99-108. ISSN: 1871-1014 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quageo.2013.11.003