Our Experts

Smithsonian Student Travel  |  Experts

Smithsonian Student Travel Experts join every program for a portion of the itinerary. Experts are professionals in their field and are able to tie in their knowledge and experiences with the themes of the program. They are welcoming, engaging, and accessible, and provide students with unique insights in a way that only the Smithsonian is able to offer. Experts live alongside the students during their time with the group—generally five days—and participate in all activities and meals, allowing students opportunities to engage in meaningful ways.

Our experts work in museums, conduct experiments, collect data, define the cutting edge of space exploration, and organize community gardens. They are curators, educators, researchers, conservationists, sociologists, and historians.

“My expert (Daniel Dixon) was absolutely amazing! He gave knowledge, advice, and expertise in all fields! He taught us how to be climate scientists, follow our dreams, and help the planet!”

—Farrah H., Iceland student traveler

Smithsonian Student Travel  |  Meet Our Experts

Leader Ravi smiling outside

Dr. Shaleen Angwenyi

Wildlife Veterinarian & Researcher

Dr. Shaleen Angwenyi is a wildlife veterinarian and researcher from Kenya. She qualified with a B.Sc. in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Nairobi and an M.Sc. in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation from the University of Bristol. Her passion for wildlife, specifically Kenya’s unique biodiversity, led her to specialize in wildlife medicine, undertaking a year-long veterinary internship with the Kenya Wildlife Service where she worked in various conservation areas across the country. She has practiced in the wildlife sector in Kenya for almost seven years.

Dr. Angwenyi is currently the Wildlife Health and Disease Surveillance Manager with Smithsonian’s Global Health Program in Kenya. Her interests are in endangered species recovery programs and wildlife disease surveillance. She is currently leading a research project investigating the dynamics of clostridial disease in black rhinos in Kenya. Additionally, she has lead roles in two other initiatives by the Global Health Program; 1. The development and implementation of the Earth Ranger Health tool focused on syndromic disease surveillance conducted by wildlife rangers, and 2. The repatriation of the critically endangered mountain bongo from Florida to Kenya.

As a Wildlife Conservation Network Veterinary Scholar and a National Geographic Explorer, Dr. Angwenyi dedicates her time and expertise to encourage young scientists, particularly veterinarians, to join the wildlife field. She is a member of the WDA – Africa and Middle East (WDA-AME) Section where she previously served as Student Representative and is currently the Chairperson. She uses her unique blend of passion and technical expertise to promote the health of the heritage that is Africa’s wildlife and the ecosystems to which they belong.

Leader Ravi smiling outside

Dr. Neeti Bathala


Dr. Bathala brings almost two decades of experience in higher education, teaching ecology and environmental sciences at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She is currently serving as Visiting Faculty in Environmental Science at Villanova University. An ecologist by training, Dr. Bathala has participated in numerous local and global conservation projects. She has degrees from Rutgers University (B.S.), Temple University (M.A.), Duke University (M.E.M.) and the University of Georgia (Ph.D.). During her graduate studies at Duke University, Dr. Bathala studied conservation biology in Costa Rica with the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). She has spent time at numerous biological research stations in Costa Rica and has volunteered with sea turtle conservation efforts at Tortuguero National Park. In addition to her work in terrestrial ecosystems, Dr. Bathala has been involved in several National Science Foundation (NSF) post-doctoral Chautauqua Field programs studying biodiversity and marine communities in Belize, Hawaii, and the Galápagos Islands. Dr. Bathala has taught several marine-based ecology courses domestically and at the Honduras Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences (RIMS). She is a certified PADI SCUBA diver and has completed day and nighttime dives in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean. As an author, speaker, and educator, Dr. Bathala is involved in community public education on environmental issues. She is deeply committed to projects encouraging STEM, particularly for women in the sciences. She serves on the Board of Advisors of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University and has also contributed her time as a mentor for students in Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment graduate program.

Portrait of leader Sammy outside

Edward Becker

Architect & Professor

Edward Becker is an Associate Professor of Architecture at Virginia Tech, consistently ranked as one of the top undergraduate architecture programs in the United States. He holds a Master of Architecture with Distinction from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. As a member of the Finnish Association of Architects, he is the founder of Helsinki-based Vor, a sustainability-focused design and consulting practice. His award-winning, bio-focused design and research work is positioned at the intersection of architecture, landscape urbanism, and public art. Edward has lived and practiced in Copenhagen and Helsinki, among other global locations, and through those experiences has a deeply rooted professional ethic for, and expertise in, sustainable design, livable cities, and design for well-being. Winner of national and international design awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, Architizer, Architects Newspaper, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and others, his collaborative work has been published internationally by Actar, ARK, Archinect, ARQ-XP, Phaidon, Routledge, Wood Design Magazine, and World Landscape Architecture, among others, including being featured in AN’s “Best of the Best” design awards publication and Phaidon’s “Architizer: World’s Best Architecture 2020.”

Portrait of leader Sammy outside

Liana Brent

Assistant Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies

Liana Brent is an Assistant Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies at Bates College in Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in Classics from Cornell University, and she is a Roman archaeologist who specializes in histories of the non-elite in the Roman world. Her research interests include Roman burial practices, Latin inscriptions, Greek and Roman sculpture, and the history of collecting antiquities. At Bates, she teaches courses on Roman Civilization, Archaeology, Slavery, Death and Burial, as well as Latin. In addition to her scholarly interests, Liana loves hiking, and in 2019 she walked the Via Appia Antica (an ancient Roman road), for 350 miles from Brindisi in southern Italy all the way back to Rome!

Portrait of leader Sammy outside

Raja GuhaThakurta

Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Raja GuhaThakurta is a Distinguished Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California Santa Cruz. He studies the formation and evolution of galaxies large and small, with a focus on the assembly of their dark matter, dynamics of their resolved stellar population, merger history, chemical enrichment, and star formation history. He makes extensive use of the Hubble Space Telescope and Keck telescopes in his research, and has over 800 publications. He is the founder and faculty director of the Science Internship Program (SIP), in which high school students are mentored by UCSC researchers and work on cutting-edge STEAM research projects. He also founded two other educational initiatives: Shadow the Scientists (StS), which allows students and educators to eavesdrop via Zoom on scientists while they conduct research; and PyaR (Python and Research), an online computer programming tutorial set in the context of astronomy research. These programs are under the CrEST (Creating Equity in STEAM) umbrella that he started at UCSC. Raja has been appointed a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China from 2022–2025, American Astronomical Society Fellow in 2021, Outstanding Faculty in UCSC’s Physical and Biological Sciences Division in 2020–2021, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecturer at Tel-Aviv University in 2018, and visiting faculty at Google in 2015. He was awarded the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Memorial Prize and Fellowship in 2001, and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 1997. He received his Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton.

Outdoor portrait of leader Dan

Tom Dawson


Tom Dawson is an archaeologist and Principal Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews. He started his archaeological career in London, excavating trenches up to 20 feet deep in the heart of the city. He then conducted excavations in Japan, Italy, Ireland, and France, and spent three years in Sri Lanka, training archaeologists at World Heritage Sites and doing underwater archaeology on the south coast. Since joining Scotland’s oldest university, Tom has pioneered ways of working with sites threatened by climate change. He is the CEO of SCAPE (Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) and, together with his team, has inspired creative ways of recording threatened heritage. A strong advocate of public archaeology, most projects were developed in collaboration with local communities. Tom regularly appears on TV shows in the UK and has written many academic papers. His edited publications include Archaeology and Coastal Erosion in Scotland and Public Archaeology and Climate Change. He sits on a number of international panels and advisory boards and was formerly a Commissioner with the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Vice President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Outdoor portrait of leader Dan

Dan Dixon

Sustainability Director

Dan is the University of Maine Sustainability Director and a Research Assistant Professor with the University’s Climate Change Institute. He initially trained as a marine engineer and ultimately received his Bachelor of Science in Geology and Oceanography from the University of Southampton, UK. For his undergraduate research, he studied the clay mineralogy of mud volcanoes and diapirs along the Iberian continental margin using x-ray diffraction techniques. Since then, he earned his MSc in Quaternary and Climate Studies and his PhD in Earth Sciences while working at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.

Dan’s graduate research was primarily focused on Antarctica. As a member of the United States International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition team, he completed five Antarctic field seasons, traversing more than 10,000 km over the ice sheet and drilling more than 40 ice cores along the way. Dan continues to focus his research on reconstructing paleoclimate using the chemistry contained in snow and ice. He has also worked in Iceland, Southern Patagonia, the New Zealand Southern Alps, the Central Chilean Andes, the Olympic Mountains, the Saint Elias Mountains, the Island of South Georgia, and most-recently in the Peruvian Andes. Dan is a recipient of the United States Antarctic Program Polar Service Medal and has received a National Science Foundation Achievement Award for Traversing in Antarctica.

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Ashley Elston

Art Historian

Ashley Elston is an art historian who specializes in late medieval and Renaissance art in Italy. She is Associate Professor of Art History and Director of Visual Arts at Berea College, where she teaches a variety of courses on European art from the ancient world to the 19th century. She discovered her love of Italian art and culture as an undergraduate working on a degree in history and medieval studies at St. Olaf College when she participated in a study abroad course in Rome. She went on to complete an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history at the University of Kansas. A Fulbright grant allowed her to live in Italy while conducting her doctoral research in churches, archives, and museums, and her work has also been supported by competitive grants from the Renaissance Society of America and the Southeastern College Art Conference. She is currently working on a book that examines how paintings and sculptures were used together on Italian Renaissance altars and recently co-edited a book titled Hybridity in Early Modern Art.

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Katryn Evinson

Iberian Studies Lecturer

Katryn Evinson holds a Ph.D. in Latin American and Iberian Studies and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and is currently a Core Lecturer at the Center for the Core Curriculum at Columbia University where she teaches a course on Contemporary Civilization. Her dissertation, The Spirit of Sabotage: Contemporary Art and Political Imagination in Post- Industrial Spain, is a study of artistic interventions that react—deploying sabotage tactics—to the role that the promotion of contemporary art will play in Spain’s economic transition toward neoliberalism. Her publications have appeared in boundary2, The Bulletin of Spanish Visual Studies, Chasqui, and LA Review of Books, among others. She teaches on a variety of topics including contemporary Iberian art and literature, feminism, social movements, rural Spain and cultural production, and others. In addition to her research and teaching activities, she is a board member of the Asociación de Literatura y Cine Españoles siglo XXI (ALCESXXI), an editorial assistant for the Revista Hispánica Moderna, a member of the editorial board of Re-visiones, and is currently co-developing a podcast on the question of the rural in the Iberian Peninsula. Before moving to the US, Katryn spent six years in the international education industry and was the Experiential Learning Coordinator and Service-Learning instructor for a study abroad program in Barcelona where she developed a network for college students to volunteer with local organizations. When she’s not deep down into her research and writing, or developing new college courses, Katryn enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going to exhibitions and concerts, running, and cinema.

Outdoor portrait of leader Dan

Francisco García-Serrano


Francisco García-Serrano earned his M.A and Ph.D. in Medieval Iberian History at the University of California, Berkeley and is currently a professor of History in the Department of Humanities at Saint Louis University, Madrid Campus. In addition, he has been a visiting professor at U.C. Berkeley, New York University in Madrid, and Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. His research focuses on the influence of the Mendicant Orders in Spain during the late Middle Ages and on religious identity and interfaith relations. Professor García-Serrano also serves as the Director of Ibero-American Studies at Saint Louis University, Madrid Campus, an academic program that he created. In addition he is the current president of the interdisciplinary association AHLiST (2012-2015) and has organized a number of international conferences.

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Paul Glenshaw

Filmmaker & Writer

Paul Glenshaw is an independent filmmaker, artist, and writer whose multidisciplinary work covers art, history, and aviation. He is co-director, writer, and producer of the World War I documentary The Lafayette Escadrille, distributed nationwide to PBS stations in 2021. His work for the Smithsonian Associates include his popular online series Art+History, Jazz in Paris, and other history lectures, as well as drawing instruction and history tours. He is a longtime contributing author and editor for Smithsonian’s Air & Space magazine, with expertise in the Wright brothers and pre-WWI aviation. Paul is the author of the theatrical concert To Swing Through the Sky, a commission by George Mason University that traces the twin histories of jazz and powered flight. His drawings made at the Folger Shakespeare Library were featured on their Shakespeare and Beyond blog. He is currently creating a series of drawings made from the remains of Civil War casualties at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. At the start of the 2020 pandemic, he co-created The Seven Tones Project, which paired musicians and filmmakers to create 40 short films based on the music of Duke Ellington. He began his career at the National Gallery of Art, selling postcards in the bookstore, and then printing exhibit labels.

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Alia Kate

Fair Trade Entrepreneur

Alia has lived and worked in half a dozen countries, cultivating a career which revolves around social innovation, community development, and experiential education. She is the owner of Kantara, a fair-trade design business that specializes in Moroccan rugs. Through Kantara, Alia works directly with weaving cooperatives in Morocco and is committed to fostering economic development of the women artisans through ethical business practices. After 18+ years of living, working, and traveling in Morocco, Alia has a nuanced understanding of the nation’s history, politics, economy, and customs. She uses her in-depth knowledge of Morocco, its cultural landscape, and her language skills (French, Spanish, English, Arabic, and Tachelhit) to share insights through formal lectures and informal conversations with guests. Alia was thrilled to join Smithsonian in 2019 after a decade of leading educational tours for teens and college students. She holds an executive MBA and is a graduate of Oberlin College where she studied international Relations with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa.

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Kate Lakin-Schultz

French and Francophone Studies Lecturer

Dr. Kate Lakin-Schultz is a Master Lecturer and the Overall Coordinator of the French Language Program at Boston University. Dr. Lakin-Schultz holds a Ph.D. in French and Francophone Literature and Civilization from the University of Virginia and teaches at all levels of French language at BU as well as freshman writing courses. She specializes in Francophone African literature and culture and seeks to share the diversity of the Francophone world in her teaching, focusing primarily on the relationship between West Africa and France in her more advanced courses. She frequently presents on campus and at national conferences on best teaching practices, the effective use of teaching technologies, and integrating culture in the language classroom. Dr. Lakin-Schultz has spent several summers in Lyon with the University of Virginia study abroad program and looks forward to exploring the city again and sharing what she loves about it with students on the Smithsonian Student Travel program. The city has so much to offer historically, culturally, architecturally, and gastronomically and she always recommends prioritizing a stop in Lyon when traveling in France. One of her favorite things are its famous rivers, the Saône et the Rhône, that beautifully join at the southernmost point of the Lyon peninsula or “presqu’île.”

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Tiffany M. Lindley


Dr. Tiffany Lindley is a professional archaeologist and currently serves as the Alamo Archaeologist at the historic Alamo site in San Antonio, Texas. Prior to joining the Alamo, Tiffany conducted archaeological research throughout Texas and spent ten field seasons in
Belize. Tiffany received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at San Antonio and her doctoral
research examined non-elite reactions to the Maya collapse. Her research interests include daily practice, the relationship between agency and broader socio political change, and material culture. With a background in education, Tiffany strives to make archaeology accessible to all by promoting public outreach and engagement. She is a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists, the Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, and the Council of Texas Archaeologists.

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Geeta Mehta

Professor of Architecture and Urban Design

Geeta Mehta is an adjunct professor of architecture and urban design at Columbia University. She received her education from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi and Columbia University, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo. Her experience of working in India, China, Korea, and several countries in Europe, Africa, and South America enables her to bring a global perspective to her teaching. She has spoken on social capital, sustainable and equitable urbanism, and community-based change at forums around the world and she served as a panelist at WomenDeliver in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Women’s Summit in Sharjah organized by UN Women. In 2018, she was appointed to serve on the Waterfront Management advisory board by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Geeta also co-founded URBZ: User Generated Cities, a research collective that focuses on participatory urban planning and design systems, which was named one of the 100 most influential names in architecture in the world by the magazine Il Giornale dell’Architettura.

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Jacqueline Munno

Programs Manager, Yale Sustainable Food Program

Jacquie has been firing the hearth, processing the harvest, and curating conversations under the Lazarus pavilion at the Yale Farm since 2009. By engaging students in place-based, embodied work, she aims to create spaces where everyone feels a sense of belonging and call to stewardship. Off the Farm, Jacquie develops and manages a range of extramural programs, particularly international and pre-professional experiences, for students across academic disciplines. She co-directs Camp Yale Harvest, facilitating trips for groups of incoming first-years to camp and work on Connecticut farms as a part of their Yale orientation. Before coming to Yale, Jacquie worked at Navdanya, a network of seed-keepers and organic producers in New Delhi, India, where she was an assistant to Dr. Vandana Shiva. Jacquie received a M.A. in Food Culture from Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Parma, Italy, and a B.A. in French Studies and International Affairs from the University of New Hampshire. Jacquie has served on many boards, including the National Young Farmer’s Coalition and the New Haven Food Policy Council. She is a proud Fellow of Pierson College. Jacquie lives on a community farm with her husband, two kiddos, a barn cat, and a bunch of hens. She is a home cook with Armenian roots who loves feeding people. She lives, works, and farms on Quinnipiac lands.

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April Nowell


Dr. April Nowell is a Paleolithic archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria, Canada, where she has taught classes on cave art for more than 20 years. She received her BA from McGill University and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She directs an international team of researchers in the study of Lower and Middle Paleolithic sites in Jordan and collaborates with colleagues on the study of cave art in Australia and France and on ostrich eggshell beads in South Africa. Her work has been covered by more than 100 outlets including The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, CNN website, The Economist, CBC’s The National and As It Happens, NPR, and the Smithsonian Magazine website, and her work on blood residue on stone tools was named one of Time Magazine’s top 100 discoveries. Her most recent book is titled Growing Up in the Ice Age: Fossil and Archaeological Evidence of the Lived Lives of Plio-Pleistocene Children.

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Megan Proctor

Marine Biologist

Meg has spent the last 10+ years working in marine research, science education, and eco-tourism in the US and Australia. She embraces lifelong learning and enjoys sharing knowledge and creating memorable experiences that connect people with the natural world.

After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from Virginia Tech (VT), her passion for coastal environments led her to Florida. While sharing the many wonders of the Tampa Bay estuary with local students, she saw first-hand the benefit of hands-on, experiential learning and this has inspired her to seek out roles in marine science focused on community engagement.

Since moving to Australia in 2016, she has worked as a Marine Biologist and led coral ecology field courses on the Great Barrier Reef, created interactive visitor programs for Tasmania Parks and Wildlife, assisted in e-DNA research on Ningaloo Reef, and led projects to remove and prevent marine debris in Far North Queensland.

Most recently, she completed a Master’s degree in Marine Science from the University of Western Australia examining the growth rates of high-latitude corals. She currently works with James Cook University, assisting in seagrass research and working in partnership with Traditional Owners to map and monitor seafloor habitats along the Great Barrier Reef and across northern Australia. 

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Quentin Sanders

Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering

Quentin Sanders is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University and holds a
joint appointment in the departments of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering. He
received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine with
his research focused on developing robotic devices for upper extremity rehabilitation after
stroke. Prior to joining George Mason University, Quentin was a postdoctoral scholar at
North Carolina State University where he developed robotic devices to assess sensorimotor
function of the hand after stroke. He then spent a year working at Google X developing
lower extremity exoskeletons. Currently at George Mason University he directs the
ImPoWeR lab which develops robotic and prosthetic devices for individuals who have
experienced a neurological injury or amputation.

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Dr. Brett Scheffers

Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Dr. Brett Scheffers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at University of Florida. He currently serves as an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow. Dr. Scheffers is the Chair of the Species on the Move international seminar series and the co-founder of the SE Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change Management Network. He has been a National Geographic explorer since 2014 and a long-time member of the IUCN Climate Change and Biodiversity Specialist Group. Dr. Scheffers obtained his B.Sc. in Ecology at Sewanee: The University of the South, USA, his M.Sc. in Ecology from University of Alberta, Canada, and his Ph.D. in Ecology from National University of Singapore, Singapore. He served as a post-doctoral research fellow at James Cook University, Australia.

Dr. Scheffers runs a dynamic and leading biological conservation and ecology lab and has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles, many of which are in leading international journals such as Science, Nature Climate Change, Current Biology, and Frontiers in Ecology and Environment. His work has been covered by hundreds of news outlets, including The Economist, Huffington Post, National Geographic, Scientific American, and the New York Times. Dr. Scheffers has spent the last 20 years working in tropical ecology and conservation biology across the world’s tropical rainforests of Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. He has extensive experience in the field of global change biology and his research focuses on core ecological problems – often using canopy science, the degree of vertical habitat use in montane tropical rainforests, as his model system. His research also focuses on ecological responses and adaptation of a variety of taxa ranging from birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects to climate change and environmental instability.

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Hugh Shapiro

Professor of East Asian History

Hugh Shapiro is a professor of East Asian history at the University of Nevada, with a BA from Stanford University and a PhD from Harvard. As a Smithsonian Journeys Expert, he has lectured in 15 countries in Eurasia, and has traveled extensively throughout the region. Hugh has enjoyed visiting appointments at Princeton University, at universities in China, Japan, and Taiwan, and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He received the Li-Qing Prize for the History of Chinese Science and won his university’s highest teaching award. His extensive archival and fieldwork focuses on the history of medicine, disease, and the body in comparative context. His recent work appears in volumes published by Harvard University Press, Brill, and Oxford University Press. Hugh’s other research and teaching interests include visual and performance art, Central Asia, and the history of de-colonization and authoritarianism.

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Dr. Robert Stephan

Associate Professor of Practice (Classics)

Dr. Rob Stephan is an archaeologist by training and has taught in the University of Arizona’s Department of Religious Studies and Classics since 2016. He hails from Cincinnati, OH and attended the University of Michigan, where he studied Classical Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Near Eastern Studies. Upon completing his B.A. in 2005, he left the Midwest to take his talents to Stanford University’s Ph.D. program in Classics. His thesis took an archaeological perspective to look at the impact of the Roman Empire on economic growth in the Mediterranean world, and he earned his Ph.D. in 2014. Rob’s research interests focus on how the material remains of the past can inform us about the economic performance of ancient societies. More recently, he’s also been researching the intersection of technology and teaching, exploring how we can use video games and virtual reality to give students a better understanding of the ancient world.

Rob has worked on archaeological excavations in Italy, Cyprus, Britain, Armenia, and the American Southwest. His current project, the Bays of East Attica Regional Survey (BEARS) uses archaeological data to investigate the bay of Porto Raphti in Greece from prehistory through the medieval period. In addition to supervising undergraduates on these archaeological projects, Rob has led study abroad programs in Italy, Greece, and the Holy Land. Rob teaches courses on classical history and civilization, classical mythology, Greco- Roman sport and spectacle, and ancient Egypt. In his free time, he likes hiking and eating nachos, although his Saturdays are still dedicated to watching the Michigan Wolverines, Stanford Cardinal, and Arizona Wildcats on the gridiron.

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Dr. Stephanie Sykora


Dr. Stephanie Sykora is a geologist, with a Ph.D. degree in Geology from the University of Tasmania, Australia, and a B.Sc. degree in Earth and Ocean Science from the University of Victoria, Canada. She has worked for over 10 years as an exploration geologist all around the world, including Australia, Papua New Guinea, Serbia, Ireland, Japan, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, USA and Canada. She has worked with various mineral exploration companies, universities, and published scientific articles. Currently she is a consultant geologist based out of Canada. She had led and participated in various field trips globally, focusing on geology and natural sciences. Stephanie is also an avid scientific communicator for earth sciences, having been involved in outreach programs, such as Young Tassie Scientists, and written numerous online, publicly accessible articles about geological sites around the world.

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Kaitlyn Ugoretz

Assistant Professor & Associate Editor

Kaitlyn Ugoretz is an Assistant Professor and Associate Editor at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya, Japan. Her experience studying and working abroad in China inspired her to spend her life learning and teaching about East Asia. She received her BA and MA from the University of Pennsylvania and is finishing her PhD at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As an expert on Japanese religion and culture, Kaitlyn has conducted fieldwork at shrines, temples, and other historical sites across Japan. Her research focuses on the global spread of the Japanese religion called Shinto through digital technology and popular media. She consults on games and television and writes for outlets including Religion News Service, The Washington Post, Critical Asian Studies, and The Conversation. She is a frequent podcast guest and the host of the award-winning educational YouTube channel “Eat Pray Anime,” which explores Japanese religious history and culture through comics, anime, and video games.

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Thuy Vo Dang

Assistant Professor of Information Studies

Thuy Vo Dang (she/her/hers) is Assistant Professor of Information Studies at UCLA where she co-directs the Community Archives Lab. She holds a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from University of California, San Diego and a B.A. in English and Asian American Studies from Scripps College. Her previous role was Curator for the UCI Libraries Southeast Asian Archive and Research Librarian for Asian American Studies. With research and teaching expertise in oral history, Southeast Asian diaspora, community archives, and cultural memory, Thuy brings an interdisciplinary approach to co-creating digital humanities and archival documentation projects with educators and community-based organizations. Her current research and community engagement work center “refugee archival praxis” through the storytelling strategies of first and second generation Vietnamese in the diaspora. She is coauthor of the books A People’s Guide to Orange County (2022) and Vietnamese in Orange County (2015) and has published in Amerasia Journal, AAPI Nexus: Policy, Practice and Community, Health Promotion Practice, History Now: the Journal, Ethnic Studies in Academic and Research Libraries, and Toward a Framework for Vietnamese American Studies. Thuy serves on the board of directors for Arts Orange County and the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association.

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