As a full-service cultural resource management firm, Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research strives to bring technology and research to the services we perform for our clients. The TVAR has been serving clients throughout the southeastern United States for over ten years, but the collective experience of our people equates to so much more.
MEET THE TVAR TEAM
At Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research, we value the diverse interests and skills of our staff. We invite you to learn more about our staff and find out more about the people who make TVAR a dynamic team.
Executive & Administrative Team
Erin Johnson | CEO; Finance Director
Erin Johnson serves as TVAR’s Chief Executive Officer and finance director managing payroll, billing, and insurance. She also works in close coordination with the company President, staff, and certified public accountants in the day-to-day business aspects of the company. Erin is uniquely qualified for this position insofar as she has participated directly in archaeological field and laboratory projects and has also served in a banking management position.
Hunter Johnson, M.A., RPA | President; Senior Archaeologist
Hunter Johnson serves as company president, senior archaeologist, and director of cultural resource management studies for Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research (TVAR) projects. He received his M.A. in anthropology from the University of Alabama and is a member of numerous professional organizations. Hunter has directed projects throughout southeastern North America over the past twenty years and written articles published by the Journal of Alabama Archaeology, Mississippi Archaeology, Southeastern Archaeology, University of Tennessee Press, and University of Alabama Press, and he has written numerous cultural resource management reports.
Heather Hutchason, B.A | Account Specialist
Heather Hutchason received a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Kentucky. As Account Specialist, she assists the CEO in budgeting, billing, and payroll. Her background in managing a small, family-owned business makes her uniquely qualified for this position.
Keith Little, Ph.D., RPA | Senior Archaeologist
Keith Little received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Alabama and has over 40 years of experience in all phases of archaeological investigation throughout southeastern North America. He serves as a Senior Archaeologist at TVAR. Keith has written scores of cultural resource management reports as well as articles published by Early Georgia, The Florida Anthropologist, Journal of Alabama Archaeology, Mississippi Archaeology, Southeastern Archaeology, University of Tennessee Press, and Smithsonian Institution Press. His research interests and specialties include late prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology of southeastern North America and paleoclimatology.
Scott C. Meeks, M.A., RPA | Senior Archaeologist
Scott Meeks received his M.A. in anthropology from the University of Alabama and is currently completing his Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Tennessee. He serves as a Senior Archaeologist and Principal Investigator at TVAR. Scott has over 20 years of experience in all phases of archaeological investigation throughout the southeastern United States and has worked with federal, state, and local governmental agencies as well as private businesses and individuals. Scott has written numerous cultural resource management reports, published articles in Journal of Alabama Archaeology, American Antiquity, Current Research in the Pleistocene, Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, and PNAS and has contributed chapters in edited volumes published by Texas A&M Press, University Press of Colorado, Left Coast Press, and University of Tennessee Press. His research interests include subsistence/settlement patterns and technologies of prehistoric hunter/gatherers in the Eastern Woodlands, environmental archaeology, natural and anthropogenic disturbance regimes, and human eco-dynamics of late prehistoric agricultural populations in the southeastern United States.
Erik Porth, Ph.D., RPA | Senior Archaeologist
Erik Porth received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Alabama and has over 10 years of experience in all levels of archaeological investigation in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
He serves as a senior archaeologist at TVAR. Erik has written numerous cultural resource management reports and published articles in Evolutionary Anthropology and Southeastern Archaeology. His research explores monumentality, materiality, ritual, and performance within ancient complex societies of the southeastern United States.
Travis Rael, M.S., RPA | Senior Archaeologist; Database Manager
Travis Rael received his M.S. in earth systems science with concentrations in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and archaeology at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has over ten years of experience in all phases of archaeology. Travis has written numerous cultural resource management reports and coauthored an article in Mississippi Archaeology. His research interests include remote sensing and the prehistory of southeastern North America.
Ashley Stewart, Ph.D., RPA | Senior Archaeologist & Bioarchaeologist
Ashley Stewart received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Alabama, where her research focused on bioarchaeology, dental anthropology, and mortuary analysis. She has over ten years of archaeological experience in all phases of archaeological investigation, with eight of those years dedicated to osteological and bioarchaeological analysis. In addition to her archaeological work, Ashley is passionate about community education and outreach, especially in regard to archaeological and anthropological topics.
Sarah Sherwood, Ph.D. | Senior Archaeologist & Geoarchaeologist
Sarah C. Sherwood received her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and has over 30 years of experience in all levels of archaeological investigation with a concentration in earth sciences and their application of archaeological context and questions. She has worked throughout the southeastern U.S. and on various international research projects. At TVAR, Sherwood serves as both a senior archaeologist and geoarchaeologist for the company. Sarah has written numerous cultural resource management reports and published approximately 50 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. Her research includes landscape and land use change over time in the upland southeast and the Tennessee River Valley, precontact mound and earthwork use and construction, cave and rock shelter archaeology, site formation processes, and microstratigraphy.
Braden Dison, M.A., RPA | Archaeologist II
Braden Dison earned an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). His primary research interests include the development of social complexity throughout the Southeast, with particular focus on the rise of monumentality and the cultural augmentation of landscape.
Kate Manning, M.A., RPA | Archaeologist II
Kate Manning earned her M.A. in anthropology from Mississippi State University. Kate has over a decade of experience on all phases of archaeological investigations in the southeast with extensive work in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. She is an FAA Part 107 sUAS licensed drone operator, with over six years of experience in drone photography and mapping. Kate’s primary research interests are lithic technologies, prehistory of the southeast with a focus along the Tennessee River Valley, and the application of GNSS and RTK mapping in Cultural Resource Management.
Kristen Koors, MLIS | Archaeologist and Technical Editor
Kristen Koors received her B.A. in anthropology and a Master of Library Information Studies from The University of Alabama. Ms. Koors has 24 years of experience in the Cultural Resources Management field and has facilitated government-to-government consultations between 19 sovereign American Indian nations and tribes and various federal agencies (National Guard, Dept. of Defense, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Tennessee Valley Authority) since 2007. Ms. Koors has experience working with the National Park Service; the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Mobile and Savannah Districts; and the Alabama Department of Transportation, as well as managing cultural resources projects for the Army Environmental Command; Army Medical Command, Hampton Roads Naval Museum; Great Lakes Naval Museum; Fort Benning and Fort Stewart Military Installations; and several private engineering and environmental companies. She brings her experience, organizational skills, and reputation as a well- respected advocate for American Indian issues. She has also served as lead co-author on one of the first Traditional Cultural Properties (TCP) identification studies in the State of Alabama. The study resulted in the location and documentation of five TCPs along with a written record of the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century history of a little studied area in the state.
Alysia Leon, M.A. | Archaeologist
Alysia Leon earned her M.A. in archaeology from Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. Alysia has over a decade of experience on all phases of archaeological investigations throughout the United States and Latin America with extensive work in federal NHPA Compliance. Her archaeological interests include mortuary archaeology, ancestral veneration, and agricultural subsistence practices.
Ross Butz, M.A. | Archaeologist; Field Director
Ross is an Afghanistan war veteran who served as an infantryman in the US Army. He received his B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Ross has experience working on CRM projects in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia. His regional areas of interest include the Tennessee River Valley and the northern Gulf Coastal Plain. His topical areas of interest include Mississippian archaeology, social organization, geoarchaeology, lithic technology, political economy, and the history of archaeology.
Rebekah Dutton, M.A., RPA | Archaeologist; Field Director
Rebekah Dutton received her M.A. in ancient Near Eastern archaeology from Wheaton College and has over 9 years of experience in all levels of archaeological excavation throughout Israel, as well as the southeastern United States. Rebekah has published research on ritual zoomorphic figurines in Palestinian Exploration Quarterly, as well as presented at various conferences. Her research interests include domestication as a technology, the chaîne opératoire of equid culture in the ancient world, as well as the use of animals in divine symbolism and ritual.
Camille Morgan, M.A. | Archaeologist; Field Director
Camille Morgan earned her M.A. in anthropology from the University of Alabama. While her research focused on bioarchaeology, specifically trauma fractures and their relation to warfare and gaming in the southeast, she garnered teaching experience from three of the four subdisciplines of anthropology. In addition to her staunch support of a four-field approach, Camille has also worked on archaeological projects in various locations, including New Mexico, Portugal, and St. Croix. Currently, Camille has taken an indefinite leave of absence from her doctoral research at the University of Alabama in favor of continuing her work in cultural resource management. Her research interests include teaching pedagogy, museum studies, repatriation practices, and anthropological theory regarding the concepts of time and the materiality of the body.
Joshua Shiers, M.A. | Archaeologist; Field Director
Joshua Shiers earned his M.A. in anthropology from the University of Mississippi. Over the past five years, he has expanded his experience in cultural resource management (CRM) through projects across the southeast, including Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. Joshua’s Master’s thesis centered on a transitional Mississippian site in North Mississippi, and one of his archaeological interests is the continuation of his study concerning the transition from the Late Woodland to Mississippian period. Joshua’s other archaeological interests are in ceramic technology, the impact of social hierarchy on material culture, and prehistoric trade and trade routes in the southeast.
James Roncki, B.A. | Field Director
James Roncki earned his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He serves as a field director for TVAR. James has worked on archaeological projects of various phases across the southeastern United States.
Olivia Baumgartel, B.A. | Field Director
Olivia is currently working towards her M.A. in Applied Anthropology from Mississippi State University, after receiving her B.A from Ohio University. While most of her work is focused in the southeast, Olivia also has field experience in Ohio, Virginia, and Israel. Her research interests include geoarchaeology, the movement of people across landscapes, remote sensing, and public archaeology.
Zachary Hannigan, B.A. | Field Supervisor
Zachary Hannigan graduated with a B.A. in anthropology from Mississippi State University. Zac has cultural resource management (CRM) experience in all phases of archaeological field work across the southeastern United States. Zac’s area of interest is the prehistoric and historic archaeology of the southeast, and the application of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) mapping in CRM.
Keenan Drake, B.A. | Field Supervisor
Keenan Drake received his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Keenan has over two years of CRM experience in all levels of archaeological field work across the southeastern United States while working with TVAR. Keenan spends his summers in Greece on the Mochlos Archaeological Project and his primary interest is prehistoric Aegean civilizations.
Jonah Vitollo | Field Supervisor
Jonah Vitollo has over four years of CRM experience. He has worked on all levels of archaeological field work, including cave mapping and shoreline investigations, throughout the southeastern United States. Jonah’s interests include prehistory of the southeast and historical archaeology.
Roberto Ortega, B.A. | Crew Chief
Roberto Ortega received his B.A. in classics and anthropology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His interests lie primarily in Mesoamerican, Ancient Near Eastern, and Medieval Spanish art, architecture, and ethnography.
Jarod Duke, B.A. | Crew Chief
Jarod Duke received his B.A. in anthropology from Mississippi State University. His interests are primarily in the prehistory of Mississippi and Alabama. He is also interested in in the prehistory of both the southeastern and southwestern United States.
Kassandra Ayala, B.A. | Field Technician II
Kassandra Ayala earned a B.A. in anthropology with minors in religious studies and Latin American and Caribbean studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Their interests include Mesoamerican history/ethnohistory and intersectionality in prehistoric, historical, and contemporary societies.
Logan Ostrom, B.A. | Field Technician II
Logan Ostrom earned a B.A. in anthropology with a minor in GIS at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has an interest in the effects of climate change to prehistoric societies. He is also interested in historic archaeology from the 19th century.
Scott Shaw | Cave Specialist
Scott Shaw received a B.S. degree in geography from the University of North Alabama and completed numerous graduate courses in geography at the University of Alabama. He worked as an archaeologist between 1989 and 1995 on survey and excavation projects throughout the southeastern United States. Scott has been active in recording, mapping, photographing, and researching caves for over 30 years. He currently serves as cave file director and board member of the Alabama Cave Survey and is presently Archives Division Chief for the National Speleological Society.
Michael Lee | Archaeological Mechanical Excavator
Michael Lee worked for 30 years in construction before joining TVAR as an Archaeological Mechanical Excavator. He has eight years of experience in mechanical stripping and trenching at over 40 Native American, African American, and Euroamerican sites in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Preservation & Research Team
Jillian Rael, M.A. | Senior Historian & Architectural Historian
Jillian Rael received a B.A. in art history/photography and a M.A. in history, concentrated in domestic architecture of the antebellum South, from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Jill is a Certified Archives Manager, awarded from the Tennessee State Library and Archives where she worked as Assistant Director of the Stones River Regional Library. She has a strong background in public service, providing a wide range of experience collaborating with government agencies and non-profits. Jill’s M.A. thesis and continued personal research centers on the relationship between architectural expression and class-identity in the South.
Brittney Carnell, M.A. | Historian
Brittney Carnell received a B.A. in international relations and global affairs with minors in French and anthropology from Eckerd College. She also received a M.A. in history with a concentration in secondary education from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and taught Advanced Placement world history prior to joining TVAR. Brittney’s research interests include southern history, historical archaeology, and mortuary practices.
Shanda Davidson, M.A. | Architectural Historian
Shanda Davidson received her M.A. in history with a concentration in public history and historic preservation from the University of West Georgia. Ms. Davidson was the Historic Programs Assistant at the Alabama Historical Commission before moving to the private sector of cultural resource management. Ms. Davidson’s professional experience covers an array of survey and Section 106 compliance projects for federal, state, and local entities as well as private sector clients. Ms. Davidson also worked as a docent at the Frank Lloyd Wright-Rosenbaum House in Florence, Alabama where she researched and studied the Usonian architectural style and the concept of organic architecture. Her other research interests include the development of Ranch house subdivisions after World War II and transportation architecture including buildings and structures related to both the automobile and railroads.
Paul Archambault, M.A. | Architectural Historian
Paul Archambault received a B.A. in anthropology from Bloomsburg (PA) University and an M.A. in history with a concentration in public history from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. His relevant professional experience includes National Register of Historic Places nominations, Section 106 Review compliance, historic preservation grant preparation and administration, historic surveys, and historic tax credit projects while employed with the Southeast Tennessee Development District in Chattanooga, TN and the New York State Historic Preservation Office in Albany, NY. Paul has worked with various federal, state, and local government entities, as well as non-profit organizations. His research interests include mining history and textile mill industrial history in the southeastern United States and the associated built environment.
Richard Krause, Ph.D., RPA | Research Affiliate
Richard Krause received his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and archaeology from Yale University in 1967. He serves as a Research Affiliate at TVAR. Dr. Krause has taught anthropology at the University of Nebraska, The Ohio State University, and University of Missouri as well as the University of Alabama where he chaired the anthropology department from 1974 to 1981. He has conducted field research in the Great Plains, Alaska, South Africa, Yucatán, and the southeastern United States. He has also done ethnographic research among American Indians and several South African Bantu speaking groups. Dr. Krause has served on the boards of directors of a number of scholarly associations, including the Plains Anthropological Society, the Council on Alabama Archaeology, and the Alabama Historical Commission. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Plains Archaeological Society in 2011. Dr. Krause receives infrastructure and staff support from TVAR while conducting his research in the Tennessee Valley, serves as a company advisor, and occasionally participates in cultural resource management projects for TVAR.
Heather Bass, B.A. | Laboratory Supervisor
Heather Bass received a B.A. in anthropology from Mississippi State University. Her interests center on the prehistory of southeastern North America with a primary focus on ceramics.
Mindy Rogers, M.A., RPA | Bioarchaeologist ; Laboratory Specialist
Mindy Rogers received her M.A. in anthropology from Texas State University. Mindy has five years of combined forensic and archaeological experience in both the field and lab in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and the Dutch Caribbean. Her research interests include biological anthropology with an emphasis in forensic and dental anthropology, as well as bioarchaeology. GIS, Remote Sensing &
GIS & Mapping Team
Katie Weis, B.S. | GIS Coordinator
Katie Weis received a B.S. in anthropology from Troy University and minored in GIS. Her primary interests are GIS applications in anthropology.
Katie Breiding, B.S. | GIS Technician
Katie Breiding received a B.S. in earth systems science with a concentration in human dimensions and societal impacts from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Her main interest is in the use of GIS technologies in monitoring resource management and the interactions between societies and their environments.