UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage

Prof Matija Strlic

Prof Matija Strlic

Professor of Heritage Science

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
22nd Oct 2007

Research summary

Matija's research focus is in the cross-disciplinary field of heritage science, particularly development of new scientific tools and methods to study heritage materials and collections, and their interactions with the environment. Among the pioneering contributions are the development of the concepts of collections demography, of degradomics, use of Near Infrared Spectrometry with chemometric data analysis in heritage science, use of chemiluminometry for studies of degradation of organic heritage materials, and studies of volatile degradation products in heritage collections, including the smell of heritage. His current research interests include development and use of damage functions and integrated modelling of heritage collections. Matija is also interested in the field of heritage science itself, and has been involved in a research project examining the attitudes of heritage scientists to collaborative research.

Presently, he is a Co-Investigator on the UK EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (2014-2022) and a Co-Investigator on the EPSRC Complex Built Environment Systems (CBES) Platform Grant “The Unintended Consequences of Decarbonising the Built Environment” (2011-2016).

He was the PI on several large collaborative projects: UK AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme "Collections Demography" (2010-2013), EU FP6 "SurveNIR" (2005-2008), and scientific coordinator of EU FP5 project "Papylum" (2001-2004). He also co-coordinated the 8th European Conference on Research for Protection, Conservation and Enhancement of Cultural Heritage, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 10-13 November 2008.

First example of quantitative chemical hyperspectral NIR imaging of an ink inscription (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ac200986p).

Teaching summary

Matija is Professor of Heritage Science and Course Director of the MRes Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology.

This interdisciplinary programme takes an innovative approach to teaching of 'hard' science subjects by taking cultural heritage as its context. The aim is to develop a holistic understanding of state-of-the-art science among researchers and practitioners in order to develop the science leaders of the future. 

Heritage science delivers intellectual access to cultural heritage by enhancing knowledge of conservation, interpretation, research and management. It offers ample opportunities to question and reflect on research in light of broader societal and environmental issues. By engaging in interdisciplinary discourse with other researchers, and with a wider diverse public, the graduates gain the ability to engage with policy-makers.

Matija also teaches on the MSc in Sustainable Heritage at the Institute and MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums, UCL Institute of Archaeology.


Univerza v Ljubljani
Doctorate, Doctor of Science | 2000


Matija is Deputy Director of UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, Course Director for the MRes Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology at the Institute, and Deputy Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology

He was awarded PhD in chemistry at the University of Ljubljana and joined the Institute in 2007. In the last 17 years, he has been involved in more than 30 research and networking projects, mostly as a senior scientist, research manager, co-investigator or principal investigator, attracting ~£20M funding predominantly for heritage science.

Matija's research is frequently featured in the media. Recent research into the smell of old paper and the use of volatiles as markers for degradation attracted considerable media interest, including The New York Times, The Times, The GuardianDaily TelegraphBBC, Le Temps Suisse, Scientific American, CBC Radio, Daily Planet, Discovery Channel, and more than 50 other national and international media. It was also featured in the major scientific journal Science. Watch Matija's UCL Lunch Hour Lecture on tour @the British Museum on the topic of old book smell.

The full CV and bibliography are available here.