MEET THE BOARD
Mark Giambastiani – in memoriam
Dr. Mark Giambastiani has more than 20 years experience in conducting Phase I (Survey), Phase II (Testing), and Phase III (Data Recovery) studies throughout California and Nevada and has served as Principal Investigator on many different projects of all phases in both states. His regional expertise centers in the Mojave Desert, where he has worked for many years on major military installations (Fort Irwin, Edwards Air Force Base, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake), and in the Great Basin, where he has completed many different projects for various federal agencies (U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and private enterprises (mining, water, and alternative energy development). Dr. Giambastiani has also led and/or participated in a number of archaeological projects for Caltrans in Kern, Mono, Inyo, and other counties for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and for the Fort Hunter Liggett military installation on the California coast.
Dr. Giambastiani’s doctoral dissertation focused on prehistoric obsidian use on the Volcanic Tableland in Owens Valley, Inyo County. He specializes in prehistoric archaeology, being an expert in artifact analysis and in the study of lithic technology, obsidian use and conveyance, toolstone exploitation, and subsistence/ settlement reconstruction. He is also learned in historical archaeology, particularly in Nevada, and has extensively studied topics such as charcoal production, Depression-era mining, and early military forts.
Victor Villagran – President
The legend of Victor began almost two decades ago, when he learned to dig square holes and march transects at CSU Long Beach. During one of his transects (bearing west), he ran out of dry land and became disoriented, which allowed a group of opportunistic archaeologists to kidnap him to Nevada. Since then, he has assumed an identity not unlike Bigfoot of other climes – seldom seen except by lonely conspiracy theorists who glimpse him passing amongst the sage and scrub brush of the Great American Desert.
Ashlee Younie – Vice President
Ms. Younie applies her backgrounds in natural resource economics and archaeology to specializes in natural resources use history in the American West. Often her research focuses on ethnic minorities in the ranching and mining histories of Nevada and California. Ashlee earned both of her degrees from the University of Nevada: a Bachelor’s of Science in Agriculture and Applied Economics (2011) and a Master’s in Archaeology (2014). She frequently explores the Great Basin and Mohave deserts on foot and horseback; and is currently enjoying an eternal summer on the southern Nevada and northern Arizona border.
Sarah Branch – Treasurer
Sarah Branch has over 16 years of experience in cultural resources management gained through projects in Nevada, California, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Sarah earned her B.S. in geology at the University of Nevada, Reno, completing an undergraduate honors thesis examining Mississippian and Devonian radiolarians from the Toquima Range in central Nevada. Sarah got her first experience with archaeology in 2004 on a data recovery project at a late-nineteenth to early-twentieth century ranching property in Washoe City and was immediately hooked. She returned to UNR to continue her education, earning her M.A. in anthropology in 2014. Her primary research interests lie in the Great Basin and while at UNR, she used chemical sourcing of fine-grained volcanic tools from western Nevada to help elucidate patterns in prehistoric mobility, lithic procurement, and settlement in the region. Sarah has been a member of the NAA since 2007 and joined the Board in 2017.
Sean McMurry – Secretary
Dr. McMurry has worked in the archaeological field since 2002, participating in both prehistoric and historic projects in Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada. She has led and worked as a crew member on numerous excavation and survey projects for universities, federal and state agencies, and private clients. Her graduate research at the University of Nevada in Reno, focused on historic mining resources in Nevada, with a Master’s thesis that examined Depression-Era placer gold mining, and a PhD dissertation that investigated a 20th-century sulfur mining townsite. She has significant experience in Section 106 compliance, oral history management, historical research, artifact processing and curation, GIS data collection and processing, historic artifact analysis, and report preparation for both government and private clients. Dr. McMurry’s personal research interests include GIS, mining, 19th and 20th-century archaeology, and public outreach, and she has presented and published numerous popular and scholarly articles devoted to these and other topics.
Jackson C. Mueller – Social Media Officer
Jackson originally hails from northern Wyoming, and first came to Nevada in 2003 to attend UNR, then went on to earn a M.A. from the University of Montana where he studied the Bicycle Corps, a 19th century infantry unit stationed in Fort Missoula. Returning to Reno a few years later, he currently serves as staff archaeologist for a local firm.
Outside of work, Jackson is involved in several volunteer projects including the recovery of a howitzer lost during John C. Fremont’s 1843 expedition, and writes terrible poetry.
Cassandra Albush – Membership Officer
Cassandra has worked as an archaeologist in Nevada since 2003. While originally drawn to the area because of its exciting Paleoindian research she couldn’t help but fall in love with the ‘Old West’. Today she lives in Tonopah, Nevada – once the ‘Queen of the Silver Camps’- with her husband, Jonah, their four cats and one dog. Working as an archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management she helps to preserve Nevada’s rich history and prehistory so that future generations will also have the opportunity to fall in love with the past.
Andrew Hoskins – Member at Large
Andrew is a Project Manager at SWCA, Inc. in Reno, Nevada. He received a BS in Anthropology from Central Michigan University in 2011, and an MA is Anthropology/Archaeology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2016. Andrew has worked in the Great Basin since 2012 researching, surveying, and excavating historic and prehistoric resources. His research interests include lithic technological organization, Great Basin projectile point typologies and chronologies, atlatl-bow transition in the west, and efficacy of cultural resource management strategies.
Leilani Lucas – Member At Large
Dr. Leilani Lucas earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UNR, an M.A. in Anthropology from UNLV and a Ph.D. in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. After a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at UCL she returned to her native Las Vegas to join the Anthropology faculty at the College of Southern Nevada. She served as President of Archaeo-Nevada Society from 2017-2019 and is currently Vice-President. Leilani is an anthropological archaeologist with an expertise in archaeobotany. She is the author of Crops, Culture and Contact in Prehistoric Cyprus (2014) and co-author of multiple publications on the origins and spread of agricultural systems and plant domestication in Cyprus, the Near East, Eurasia, and Africa. Her current research focuses on subsistence change in prehistoric Cyprus.
Andrew McCarthy – Member At Large; Journal Editor
Dr. Andrew McCarthy is an archaeologist with 25 years of experience in fieldwork in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe and the United States including Nevada. He is currently a Fellow of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, through which he directs archaeological field schools and projects in Cyprus and consults and publishes on projects around the Middle East. He is currently Director of the Prastio-Mesorotsos Archaeological Expedition, Director of the Dhiarizos Viewshed Analysis Project, co-Director of the Makounta-Voules Archaeological Project with North Carolina State University, Principal Investigator of the Las Vegas Springs Preserve Excavations, Field Director for the British Excavations at Tell Jerablus Tahtani, Archaeologist with Yale University’s Tell Leilan Excavations and is part of Yale University’s Akkadian Empire Project. He served as Director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute from 2011-2017 and returned to the USA after more than 20 years living abroad. He is now an Instructor at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas where he teaches Anthropology and Archaeology and is engaging in local archaeological activities, including acting as the President of the Archaeo-Nevada Society, and is the Editor of the journal Nevada Archaeologist.
John Benedict – Member at large
I graduated from The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) in the spring of 2020 with a degree in anthropology. I did 16 weeks of lab and field work at the Springs preserve. I have a strong background in geology. Currently I am a FAA Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME), a scuba instructor, a full-time husband, and the never-ending job as dad of three teen-age kids. I have master’s degree from FHSU. My first bachelor’s degree was in geology from Wichita State University. I earned a second Bachelor of Science degree in geosciences/meteorology (BMP) from Mississippi State University. I transferred to UNLV as a degree seeking undergrad majoring in Anthropology. Call me a perpetual student! Eventually, I hope to teach Earth science, anthropology, or meteorology at the post-secondary level.
Geoffrey M. Smith – Member at large
Geoff Smith is a Regents’ Professor and Executive Director of the Great Basin Paleoindian Research Unit in the UNR Department of Anthropology. His research interests include the peopling of the American West, late Pleistocene and early Holocene lithic technology, mobility, and subsistence, and hunter-gatherer adaptions in the Great Basin. He has worked in the American West for two decades and authored more than 50 journal articles and book chapters on these and other topics.