I am an archaeologist with a research emphasis in Mesoamerica. This year (2017-2018), I am working as a postdoctoral research fellow for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. My research investigates how individuals of past societies shift political, economic, and subsistence strategies in the face of adversity to avoid collapse. I work at the Mexican archaeological site of Izapa, famous for its many carved monuments and for the site’s reported link between the Olmec and Maya cultures. My dissertation combines economic data recovered from household excavations with settlement, ritual, and environmental data to explain why Izapa’s population survived at a time (AD 100-250) when many early cities struggled or collapsed.
In addition to my work in Mesoamerica, I have also participated on archaeological projects in Greece, Cyprus, Belize, and Costa Rica. These experiences have helped me to understand my own work and teach students from a comparative perspective. My methodological specializations include paleoethnobotany (the study of ancient plants), ceramic analysis, obsidian sourcing, and the use of 3D methods in cultural heritage settings. Together with my work in museums, I have also become interested in how cultural heritage is employed in the construction of national and regional identities. I encourage you to explore the various pages of this site to learn more about these projects.