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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 DAI 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 | With DAI since 1982
Bill Doelle is the founder of Desert Archaeology. As a businessman and an archaeologist, he promotes respect for the multiple values that archaeological resources represent. Solutions related to development projects begin with clearly defining goals and then developing creative approaches that meet those goals. Bill feels great pride in the strong staff that accomplishes the daily work of Desert Archaeology and appreciates the diverse clients we have worked with over time. |

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
Ph.D., Anthropology, 1986, Arizona State University | With DAI since 1999
Kathy manages the operations of Desert Archaeology’s Phoenix 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
Ph.D., Anthropology, 2006, Arizona State University | With DAI 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

Connie A. Darby, Field Director/Project Director
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 Phoenix 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. |

Erina Gruner, Field Director/Project Director
MA, Anthropology, 2012, 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.

Hoski Schaafsma, Field Director/Project Director
M.S., Plant Biology, 2003, Arizona State University | With DAI 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
M.A., Anthropology, 1992, Arizona State University | With DAI 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. Thiel is president of the Tucson Presidio Trust and a life member of the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society. |

Meghann M. Vance, Field Director/Project Director
MA, Anthropology, 2011, Northern Arizona University | With DAI 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
Ph.D., Anthropology, 2017, University of Arizona | With DAI 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
M.A., Anthropology, 1980, University of Arizona | With DAI 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
B.A., Anthropology, 1994, University of Georgia | With DAI 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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Jenny L. Adams, Research Archaeologist and Ground Stone Analyst
Ph.D., Anthropology, 1994, University of Arizona | With DAI since 1995
Jenny’s behavioral research orientation as both a field archaeologist and analyst is rooted in her early work within a Hopi community. The methodological approach to ground stone analysis she developed, presented in national and international publications, is the standard in the field. Other research interests lie in experimental archaeology, including exploring food processing techniques and making beads and pipes from clay and stone. For fun, she builds dynamic sculptures from copper. | | ResearchGate | LinkedIn

Michael W. Diehl, Paleoethnobotanist
Ph.D., Anthropology, 1994, SUNY Buffalo | With DAI 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 Texas. His research interests include human-environment interaction, human behavioral ecology, food selection and consumption, and ethnicity in food preparation. In addition to client services, Mike is a principal investigator on an NSF-funded grant to study prehistoric subsistence and ecological change in southwestern New Mexico. |

James M. Heidke, Research Ceramicist
B.A., Anthropology, 1981, University of Illinois; Graduate Study, University of Arizona | With DAI 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. |

Mary F. Ownby, Petrography Director
Ph.D., Archaeology, 2010, University of Cambridge | With DAI since 2010
Mary specializes in the scientific analysis of ceramics. Using petrography and other methods (including NAA and SEM), her collaborative research has examined material from Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Colorado, and Utah. She has also conducted research on ceramics from Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, and Kuwait. Her interests lie in the pottery production sequence and technology along with cultural interaction, migration, and trade. | | ResearchGate

R. J. Sliva, Flaked Stone Analyst
M.A., Anthropology, 1992, University of Illinois-Chicago | With DAI 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, craft and manufacturing specialization, and the archaeology of gender. They would rather be hiking right now; finding a microbrewery at the top of the mountain would be a bonus. | | LinkedIn

Christine H. Virden-Lange, Shell Specialist and Historic Artifact Analyst
B.A., Anthropology, 2000, Arizona State University | With DAI 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
M.A., Anthropology, 1995, Arizona State University | With DAI 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.

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Cartography and Graphics


Michael Brack, Mapping Director
M.A., Anthropology, 1992, Wichita State University | With DAI since 2000
Specializing in archaeological cartography, Michael has 30 years of experience in land surveying, civil engineering, and CAD. This technical background is complemented with 25 years of archaeological research in the American Southwest, northwest Mexico, the Great Plains, and the Southeast. He has developed specialized data collection and management processes for archaeological mapping and GIS analysis of human behavior. His research interests include historical mining technologies, primitive irrigation techniques, and the transition of hunter-gatherers to agrarian lifestyles.

Robert B. Ciaccio, Illustrator, Conceptual Artist, Crew Chief
With DAI 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
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 DAI 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.

Tyler Theriot, Mapping Specialist
B.S., Physical Anthropology, 1995, James Madison University With DAI since 2007
Tyler conducts Real Time Kinetic (RTK) GPS land surveys to collect measured data of archaeological sites. These data are used to create site maps, build custom thematic maps for use in spatial analysis, and to geo-reference digitized feature drawings. Tyler also serves as a Field Archaeologist on excavation, testing, and survey projects.

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Danelle Bemis, Laboratory Director
M.F.S., Forensic Science, 2010, Nebraska Wesleyan University | With DAI since 2019
Danelle has worked on archaeological projects in the Midwest, Plains, Colorado, Arizona, and Louisiana, and has spent years concentrating on laboratory management, osteology, paleoethnobotany, museum photography, and public education. Following graduate work in forensic anthropology and death investigation, she taught undergraduate courses in crime scene processing, property room management, crime laboratory techniques, fingerprint analyses, and forensic excavation methods. As Desert Archaeology Laboratory Director, she administers non-Tribal federal and state archaeological permits, manages collections, and transfers of culturally sensitive material for repatriation. Danelle enjoys traveling, spending time with her college-bound son, and hiking with her dog.

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Data Management

Theodore Oliver, Database Manager
B.A., Archaeology, University of North Dakota, 1990; Graduate Study, ASU | With DAI 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
M.A., Scientific Illustration/Museum Studies, 1982, University of Arizona | With DAI since 2001
Emilee edits, designs, and coordinates production of the Anthropological Papers and Technical Reports series 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. In her spare time, she works as a soccer referee for both adult and youth leagues.

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Office Manager

Jody Dito, Office Manager
B.A., Creative Writing, 1996, University of Arizona | With DAI since 2018
Before coming to Desert Archaeology, Jody worked at a number of local Arizona bookstores. After a couple of years as a book department employee, she learned bookkeeping and human resources, eventually graduating to the corporate office at one of Arizona’s largest used entertainment stores where she dabbled in helping out with various accounting, IT, and marketing department projects. As Office Manager at Desert, Jody handles all accounting and human resources responsibilities among other tasks. She is happiest when she is outside looking at critters or reading a book, and she believes that creating spreadsheets is an art form.