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Desert Archaeology’s greatest resource is our people. Our team members have the experience, expertise, and ingenuity to meet the needs of our diverse client base.

Our Team

At Desert Archaeology we are committed to creating safe and stable workplaces where our employees can grow professionally and have fulfilling careers. We work in an open team-based environment where we recognize the diverse strengths of our staff, and the essential role that each person plays in the success of every project. We encourage senior and junior colleagues to share a curiosity about archaeology that can lead to innovations in the ways we work and in the results we produce. When hiring temporary positions we look for opportunities to provide jobs to the Native Americans on whose ancestral lands we work, and to students who will be the future of the profession.

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Owners and Management

Sarah A. Herr | President
Ph.D., Anthropology, 1999, University of Arizona | With Desert since 1995
Sarah is the majority owner of Desert Archaeology. She conducts projects that are participatory and place-based to involve local and descendant communities. Her research interests include population mobility, the development of frontiers, and ceramic analysis. She is also interested in the history, practice, and ethics of archaeology, and currently serves as an editor for the Society for American Archaeology journal Advances in Archaeological Practice. She likes climbing mountains. | | LinkedIn Twitter | Register of Professional Archaeologists

William H. Doelle | Vice President
Ph.D., 1980, University of Arizona, Anthropology | Active with Desert 1982-2018
Bill Doelle is the founder of Desert Archaeology and its minority owner. Since 2018 he has been the full-time CEO and president of Archaeology Southwest, the non-profit he founded at the same time as Desert Archaeology.

Patricia Castalia, Operations Director
M.A., Anthropology, 1975, Arizona State University | With DAI since 1989
Trish chose archaeology as a career around the time the National Historic Preservation Act was implemented. She directed the Granite Reef Aqueduct portion of the Central Arizona project – examining land use and settlement patterns across west-central Arizona. As Operations Director, she develops budgets and proposals, manages projects, coordinates with clients, and administers company operations. Her outside interests include training and teaching in the Japanese martial art of Aikido.

T. Kathleen Henderson | Principal Investigator | Tempe
Ph.D., Anthropology, 1986, Arizona State University | With Desert since 1999
Kathy manages the operations of Desert Archaeology’s Tempe office. She has over 30 years of professional experience and is a recognized expert in the archaeology of the Phoenix Basin. Her research interests include Hohokam settlement, canals, and land use practices. She is particularly skilled at the management and direction of large excavation projects. Her ability to engage project directors, analysts and specialists in collaborative research efforts has resulted in substantive methodological contributions to the archaeology of Arizona. | | Register of Professional Archaeologists

Michael W. Lindeman | Principal Investigator | Tucson
Ph.D., Anthropology, 2006, Arizona State University | With Desert since 1991
Mike specializes in the archaeology of southern and central Arizona with a special focus on the Hohokam era. His research interests include the implications of site structure and settlement patterns for understanding prehistoric social organization, social differentiation in middle range societies, and household-based production and specialization. Mike enjoys the outdoors and watching his kids play soccer.

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Project Directors/Field Directors

Leslie D. Aragon | Research Archaeologist | Tucson
M.A., Anthropology, 2013, University of Arizona | With Desert since 2008
Leslie has 18 years of archaeological experience in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, New York, Mexico, and Israel. Her research interests include ceramic analysis, Hohokam archaeology, Upper Gila archaeology, prehistoric irrigation communities, Hohokam ballcourt communities, group identity, and social network analysis. They enjoy spending free time outside in the Sonoran desert, painting, and hanging out with their pets.

Connie A. Darby | Field Director/Project Director | Tempe
A.B., Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, 1991, Bryn Mawr College | With DAI since 2006
Connie has been a field archaeologist since 1990. Her experience ranges from the northeastern and southeastern United States to the Midwest and Greater Southwest. Connie is field director for the Tempe office, where she is responsible for the execution of projects conducted in and around the Phoenix area, with occasional forays into northern Arizona. Locating and investigating Hohokam irrigation canals has become a particular interest of Connie’s. |

Caleb Ferbrache | Crew Chief | Tempe
M.S, Anthropology, 2019, Utah State University | With Desert since 2019
Caleb grew up in rural southeastern Ohio and first moved west in 2009 to work as a museum intern in Death Valley. Fieldwork opportunities later took him to Nevada, Utah, Ohio, Arkansas, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado before he finally settled in Arizona. He has specialized experience with OSL and rockshelter geomorphology. In his free time, he enjoys caving, hiking, playing the fiddle and harp, and maintaining a robust set of novel domestic skills like spinning and weaving.

Erina Gruner, Field Director/Project Director | Tucson
Ph.D., Anthropology, 2019, Binghamton University | With DAI since 2019
Erina has ten years of project experience in the American Southwest, including Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and southern California. Her areas of expertise include ceramic and perishables analysis, with research interests including ethnohistory, prehistoric exchange systems, and culture peripheries. In her free time she enjoys drawing, cooking, and also doing the same things she does at work (reading, hiking, and exploring) without being paid.

John T. Marshall | Field Director/Project Director | Tempe
B.A., Anthropology, 1993, Arizona State University| With Desert since 2019
John has over 25 years of archaeological experience in Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Texas. Areas of focus include shell, ground stone, and flaked stone. Cultural peripheries, prehistoric use of obsidian, and projectile points are long-term interests. John is a dog person who enjoys spending quality time with his wife, his heeler, and his Gretsch.

Justin Mortensen | Crew Chief | Tempe
M.A., Applied Anthropology, 2019, Northern Arizona University| With Desert since 2022
Justin has lived in Arizona for most of his life, staying and working in multiple parts of the state including the Phoenix and Verde Valleys, Flagstaff, and the White Mountains. Before starting with DAI, Justin interned and worked seasonally with multiple land managing agencies including the NPS, USFS, and BLM in Park Ranger and Archaeology Technician roles. He has interest and experience with ground stone, ceramics, and public interpretation of archaeological themes. Research interests include the development of social hierarchies, cross cultural interactions, human-environmental interactions, and technological change. Outside work, Justin enjoys hiking and visiting public lands, attempting crafts like knapping and pottery, games, and cats. But dogs are cool too.

Hoski Schaafsma | Field Director/Project Director | Tempe
M.S., Plant Biology, 2003, Arizona State University | With Desert since 2019
Hoski has over 30 years of archaeological project experience, and has worked in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Northern California, Hawaii, the Mariana Islands and central Sweden. Areas of expertise include ethnobotany, anthropogenically modified landscapes and ancient agricultural practices. His research interests include human interaction with the landscape, particularly with regard to resource procurement and development as well as implications of trade networks on social growth. He and his wife are, with their own hands, currently building a home made from eco-friendly and recycled materials. In his free time, Hoski enjoys photography, birding, and permaculture gardening. |

J. Homer Thiel | Senior Project Director/Historical Archaeologist | Tucson
M.A., Anthropology, 1992, Arizona State University | With Desert since 1992
Homer’s interest in historical archaeology developed when his father plowed up an early 1900s dump on the family farm. During his career, he has analyzed over 500,000 artifacts and examined thousands of documents. Information gleaned from these sources has revealed the healthcare concerns, diet, ethnically linked purchasing patterns, and mortuary practices of historical residents of southern Arizona. Homer is vice president of the Tucson Presidio Trust and a life member of the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society. |

Meghann M. Vance | Field Director/Project Director | Tucson
M.A., Anthropology, 2011, Northern Arizona University | With Desert since 2018
Meghann’s motto is “all survey, all the time!” Meghann has over 15 years of survey and excavation experience in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico, and has the odd combination of expertise in Clovis archaeology, Ancestral Puebloan masonry architecture, and determining cultural affiliation under NAGPRA. Meghann also has nearly a decade of experience managing large-scale cooperative agreement projects, including the American Southwest Virtual Museum through Northern Arizona University, and dabbles in mapping, illustration, and a variety of artifact analyses. Her outside interests are—surprise!—typically work-related, but bonus points for kid time and all things outdoors. |

James M. Vint | Senior Project Director | Tucson
Ph.D., Anthropology, 2017, University of Arizona | With Desert since 1993
Jim conducts survey and excavation projects of various scales. Over the past 30 years, he has worked throughout Arizona and in Northern New Mexico. His research interests include modern and ancient borderlands, the development of early agricultural communities, and the effects of Spanish colonialism in the greater Southwest.

Henry D. Wallace | Senior Research Archaeologist | Tucson
M.A., Anthropology, 1980, University of Arizona | With Desert since 1982
Henry’s research interests include rock art in Arizona and the fine-scale dating of the Hohokam sequence using ceramic seriation. Through the direction of large-scale excavations at Hohokam settlements such as Los Morteros, Valencia Vieja, Julian Wash, and Honey Bee, he has worked to understand the beginning of the Hohokam sequence, the formation of villages, and the appearance of ballcourts. Henry enjoys photography, especially aerial photography from various platforms including helicopters, ultralights, and drones. |

Gregory J. Whitney | Field Director/Project Director | Tucson
B.A., Anthropology, 1994, University of Georgia | With Desert since 1999
Greg supervises field operations for cultural resources investigations throughout Arizona. Of particular interest to Mr. Whitney is the occupation of marginal lands in the western portion of the state. He likes to think of himself as a desert rat, at home with the critters and cacti, and always in search of that elusive watering hole.

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Tessa L. Branyan-Martin | Ground Stone Analyst/Assistant Database Manager | Tucson
M.A., Anthropology, 2018, University of Colorado-Boulder | With Desert since 2018
Tessa specializes in ground stone analysis. Using the methodological approach to ground stone analysis developed by Jenny L. Adams, she analyzes ground stone tools from both prehistoric and historic sites throughout Arizona and northern Mexico. She has research interests in tool morphological changes across time and space, and more specifically how they coincide with population movement; material sourcing; manufacturing techniques; and experimental archaeology. Tessa also acts as the assistant database manager, in which she is responsible for providing support to the database manager in the correction, processing, and maintenance of data from Desert Archaeology projects.

Rachael Byrd | Bioarchaeologist | Tempe
Ph.D., Anthropology, 2019, University of Arizona | With Desert since 2023
Rachael specializes in working with ancestors from across the Southwest. She is originally from the Chicago suburbs and majored in anthropology at Fort Lewis College and the University of Arizona, with a focus on archaeology and biological anthropology. Her expertise emphasizes a full-spectrum approach that involves field recovery, documentation, and laboratory reconstruction of individual and group biocultural profiles. She has worked closely with ancestors from Colorado, Arizona, and Sonora, along with others from the Great Basin and Jordan. She enjoys hiking, camping, and family time.

Michael W. Diehl | Paleoethnobotanist | Tucson
Ph.D., Anthropology, 1994, SUNY Buffalo | With Desert since 1995
Mike has conducted paleobotanical analysis since 1990 and has studied plant tissues from prehistoric and historic period sites throughout Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of New York and Texas. His research interests include human-environment interaction, human behavioral ecology, food selection and consumption, food sutainability, ethnicity in food preparation, military history, and industrial archaeology. |

James M. Heidke | Research Ceramicist | Tucson
B.A., Anthropology, 1981, University of Illinois; Graduate Study, University of Arizona | With Desert since 1984
Jim has extensive experience analyzing Native American pottery made from 2100 B.C. through the early 1900s. Interests include fired clay containers and figurines, the emergence of pottery, petrographic method and theory, and quantitative methods. Working in close collaboration with DAI petrographers, he has developed an objective and testable method for the binocular microscopic identification of sand temper. An important aspect of that research relates to the statistical analysis of sand and sand temper composition point-count data. |

Nat J. Sullivan| Ceramic Analyst | Tempe
B.A., Anthropology, Arizona State University, 2015 | With Desert since 2022
Nat was born and raised in Phoenix and grew up visiting parks and monuments across Arizona that left a lasting impression. They always had a particular interest in the ceramic vessels they saw, which left a strong impact and led them to pursue ceramic analysis in archaeological contexts as their focus of study. Nat has a particular interest in design analysis, changes in design styles and how humans innovate and add to their graphic art, with an emphasis on ceramics and rock art. They enjoy hiking, reading Japanese comics and science fiction, sketching and writing in their down time.

R. J. Sliva | Lithic Analyst | Tucson
M.A., Anthropology, 1992, University of Illinois-Chicago | With Desert since 1994
R. J. has developed widely used projectile point typologies for the pre-ceramic and ceramic eras in Arizona, frequently collaborating with other researchers to advance the state of typological studies in the Southwest, and has also pioneered methods for economically recording debitage while maximizing behavioral inferences. Other research interests include projectile technology, gunflints, and lithic technology as a reflection of social dynamics. They would rather be hiking right now; finding a brewery at the top of the mountain would be a bonus. | | LinkedIn

Christine H. Virden-Lange | Shell Specialist/Historic Artifact Analyst | Tucson
B.A., Anthropology, 2000, Arizona State University | With Desert since 2008
Chris has been analyzing shell assemblages from prehistoric and historic contexts since 1993. She is interested in how shell species and ornament forms change over time via different exchange networks, and is working with other shell specialists to create a database including the United States Southwest. Her other research interests include manufacturing techniques and shell sourcing. Chris enjoys visiting rock art sites and cliff dwellings, especially in the Sierra Ancha. |

Jennifer A. Waters | Zooarchaeologist | Tucson
M.A., Anthropology, 1995, Arizona State University | With Desert since 1996
Jenny first became interested in faunal analysis as an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has spent over 30 years analyzing animal bone from a number of locations, including Arizona, California, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and from both prehistoric and historic sites. She is responsible for the analysis of all faunal material recovered by DAI projects. Her research interests include early agriculture, hunter-gatherers, and historical archaeology.

Cartography and Graphics


Robert B. Ciaccio | Illustrator/Conceptual Artist/Crew Chief | Tucson
With Desert since 1987
While living in and around the Navajo and Hopi Reservations of northern Arizona, Rob developed a keen respect for Native Americans. He has illustrated the entire Snaketown carved stone collection and is currently documenting the Point of Pines ceramic collection for the Arizona State Museum. He has developed an innovative approach for visually reconstructing research-based prehistoric scenes for various publications, television, and public signage projects. Rob is a frequent contributor to Archaeology Southwest Magazine. He likes to play the blues harp.

Catherine Gilman | Graphics and Mapping Specialist | Tucson
B.S., 1977, Emerson College | Graduate Study, University of Arizona, 1989-1990 | Technical Certificates in Computer Archaeology and Cartography, Pima Community College, 1990-1991 | With Desert since 1991
Catherine has been a DAI intern, crew member, crew chief, project director, surveyor, CAD/GIS cartographer, and finally, graphic design enthusiast. In addition to regular contributions to Technical Reports, Anthropological Papers, and Archaeology Southwest Magazine, Catherine’s maps and interpretive graphics are used as teaching aids in universities, and in advocacy for cultural landscape preservation. Her visual interpretations of data and research issues can be found in professional and popular publications, archaeological museums, and interpretive signs and guides for public outreach programs.

Brent G. Kober | Graphics and Mapping Specialist | Tempe
M.A.S., 2005, Arizona State University | With Desert since 2022
Brent has 26 years of archaeological experience in the American Southwest. His specializations are in field mapping techniques, data collection methodology, and geographic information systems. His maps and illustrations have appeared in numerous published reports, professional journals, and the occasional thesis or dissertation. He is also a recognized expert in archaeological damage assessment and has performed damage assessments, as well as instructed on such topics, throughout the United States.

Stephanie Sherwood | Cartographer/Mapping Director
B.S., 1989 Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles | With Desert since 2021
Stephanie has over 27 years of professional experience in archaeological mapping and is an expert in cartographic production using a combination of CAD & GIS software programs. She is trained in surveying and has served as crew chief for a multitude of cultural resource mapping projects using survey grade GPS and total station equipment. Her maps have been featured in museums, archaeological journals, and countless technical reports. Outside of work, Stephanie enjoys hiking, cooking for crowds, and watching her kids play hockey.

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Sheri Thompson | Lab Director | Tucson
M.A., 2023, New Mexico Highlands University | Certificates in Archaeology Field School/Southwestern Cultures and Artifact Fundamentals, Pima Community College 2011 | With Desert since 2021
As Lab Director, Sheri is the primary interface with curation facilities and is responsible for overseeing the processing of all data recovered from archaeological sites received in the laboratory. As an educator in Tucson, Sheri filled her weekends and summers volunteering for over 20 years in the archaeology community. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, and when not working in her garden, you will find her hiking throughout the Southwest.

Laura Cerny-Ciaccio | Assistant Lab Director | Tucson
B.A., History, University of Arizona, 1994 | With Desert since 2021
In addition to providing all-around lab support, Laura coordinates small project submissions to state repositories and manages IT support for lab-related digital processing. Outside of work and family time, she loves reading a good book and drinking even better coffee.

General lab-related inquiries may be directed to

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Data Management

Theodore Oliver | Database Manager | Tucson
B.A., Archaeology, University of North Dakota, 1990; Graduate Study, ASU | With Desert since 1999
Ted administers Desert’s integrated project database, containing information from over 20 years of fieldwork. He also develops and supports desktop, mobile, and web applications for entering, managing, querying, and reporting field and analytical data and digital media and does general IT support. Previously, Mr. Oliver conducted archaeological fieldwork for nearly 10 years in the northern plains, Four Corners region, and across Arizona.

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Emilee Mead | Publications Director | Tucson
M.A., Scientific Illustration/Museum Studies, 1982, University of Arizona | With Desert since 2001
Emilee edits, designs, and produces the Project Report series, the Technical Report series, and Anthropological Papers for Desert Archaeology. She also formats brochures, exhibits, newsletters, and posters. Emilee has conducted archaeological and paleontological fieldwork throughout Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and South Dakota. She is the editor of Glyphs, the monthly newsletter of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society. In her spare time, Emilee works as a soccer referee for both adult and youth leagues.

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Office Staff

Jody Dito | Office Manager | Tucson
B.A., Creative Writing, Anthropology minor, 1996, University of Arizona | With Desert since 2018
Jody began her career working as a bookstore employee, quickly graduating to administrative roles due to her eye for detail and perverse love of paperwork. She has over 20 years’ experience in office management, bookkeeping, human resources, and payroll administration. As Office Manager at Desert, Jody oversees accounting, human resources, facilities, and a variety of other administrative tasks. Outside of work, she writes poetry and picks up weird facts about critters – sometimes the two activities intersect. She is happiest when she gets to play outside.

Karina Casey | Office Assistant | Tucson
B.A., Linguistics, 2019, University of Arizona | With Desert since 2020
Karina helps tackle Desert’s bookkeeping, keeps track of past publications, manages mailing, and assists in a variety of other tasks. Outside of Desert, they play the viola and enjoy taking pictures of tiny things.