Archaeological Research

Thomas J. Connolly, Director of Archaeological Research

(541) 346-3031,

Connolly (BS, 1977, Moorhead State University; MS, 1980, PhD, 1986, University of Oregon) is Director of Research for the State Museum of Anthropology, an administrative division of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon. The research division conducts archaeological research throughout the state of Oregon. Connolly's research reaches into all major cultural areas of the North American Far West, including the Pacific Coast, semi-arid interior valleys, the Great Basin, and the Columbia Plateau. Topical research areas include complex hunter-gatherers, basketry and fiber artifact technologies of the Pacific Northwest, paleoenvironmental studies, and cultural resource management. He also teaches various classes for the museum, and is currently serving as editor for the Association of Oregon Archaeologists’ publications.

Jon Erlandson, Executive Director

(541) 346-5115,

Erlandson (PhD, 1988; University of California, Santa Barbara) has been a professor of archaeology at the University of Oregon since 1990 and was appointed executive director of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History in 2005. In addition to working at the museum and teaching classes in the Department of Anthropology, Jon has done field research in coastal California, Oregon, Alaska, and Iceland. His interests focus on the development of maritime societies, human evolution and migrations, and the peopling of the Americas. He has written and edited 16 books and published over 200 scholarly articles, and serves as co-editor of the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology.

Dennis L Jenkins, Archaeologist

 (541) 346-3026,

Jenkins (BA, 1977, MA, 1981, University of Nevada; PhD, 1991, University of Oregon) is a Senior Research Associate and Director of the Northern Great Basin Archaeological Field School. His research focuses on the first colonization of North America, Late Pleistocene to Middle Holocene hunter-gatherer foraging strategies, archaeology of the arid and semi-arid western United States with particular emphasis on Great Basin settlement-subsistence patterns, bio-molecular (DNA) archaeology, obsidian sourcing and hydration, chrono-stratigraphic analysis, and prehistoric bead type and distribution analyses. In addition, he teaches classes for the museum.

Brian L. O’Neill, Archaeologist

 (541) 346-3033,

O'Neill (BS, 1972, MA, 1978, Linguistics, Kansas State University;

PhD, 1989 University of Oregon) is a Senior Research Associate whose work for the museum takes him statewide. His research focus is the western interior valleys of Oregon. Topical interests include complex hunter-fisher-gatherers, obsidian and residue studies, and the use of GIS in predictive modeling. He also teaches classes for the museum.

Patrick O'Grady, Archaeologist

(541) 346-0671,

O'Grady (BS, 1996, MS, 1999, PhD, 2006, University of Oregon) has served as a Staff Archaeologist for the museum since 2006. His research interests include hunter-gatherer subsistence practices and early Holocene cultural trends in the Great Basin of western North America, zooarchaeology, patterns of mobility, and remote sensing applications in archaeological contexts. Most recently he is excavating and publishing on the Sage Hen Gap Clovis site and other Clovis materials from the Northern Great Basin of Oregon. He also teaches classes for the museum.

Richard L. Bland, Archaeologist

Bland (BA, Spanish 1963, West Virginia State College; BA, German 1974, Humboldt State University; MA, 1988, PhD, 1996, University of Oregon) has been a Staff Archeologist at the museum since 2002, where he is involved in all aspects of project proposals, budgeting, scheduling and directing of fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and report preparation. His research interests include Siberian, Northwest Coast and Alaskan prehistory, ethnography and history, and translating and publishing books and articles on these subjects from Russian and German.

Paul W. Baxter, Archaeologist

(541) 346-0810,

Baxter (BA, 1976, Fort Lewis College; MS, 1980, PhD, 1986 University of Oregon) became a Staff Archaeologist at the museum in 2006, coming from Western Oregon University where he had been a Lecturer in Anthropology and an Academic Advisor since 1989. As a staff archeologist, he is involved in all aspects of projects, including project proposals, budgeting, scheduling and directing of fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and report preparation. His research interests include the history, prehistory, and ethnology of the Cascades and Western Oregon, hunter-gatherer occupations, and obsidian studies. He is currently working on a re-evaluation of Cascadia Cave, and has published a research note on calibrating obsidian hydration and radiocarbon dates at that site.

Christopher L. Ruiz, Historical Archaeologist

(541) 346-2568,

Ruiz (BS, 1999, MA, 2005, California State University-Chico, currently seeking MS in Historic Preservation, University of Oregon) began at the museum as a research assistant in 2005. He has participated in many excavation and survey projects throughout Oregon. He currently serves as a Historical Archaeologist for the museum and is involved with laboratory analysis and report preparation. His research interests include historical archaeology and historic preservation, with a particular interest in the archaeology of ethnic communities.

Kaylon McAlister, Archaeologist

(541) 346-0437,

McAlister (BS, 2002, MS, 2005, University of Oregon) began as a field technician for the museum in 2003. He has participated in numerous survey and excavation projects throughout Oregon and served as an assistant supervisor for the University of Oregon Field School. He currently serves as a Staff Archaeologist. His research interests include the application of GIS mapping data to archaeological questions.

Julia Knowles, Lab Manager

(541) 346-0932,

Knowles (BA, 2001, University of Oregon) began as a Research Assistant in 2002, serving as a field and lab technician. Since then she has added to her skills, learning to map with the total station, create site maps, and manipulate GIS data. She has served as crew chief on several large data recovery projects and coauthored many project reports. She is completing a six-year project that surveyed most of the Oregon State Parks.

Paleontological Research

William Orr, co-Director Paleontological Collections


Orr (BS, 1961, Geology, University of Oklahoma; MS, 1963, Geology, University of California, Riverside; PhD, 1966, Geology, Michigan State University) has been Director of the Condon Collection since 1982. In collaboration with Elizabeth Orr, he has written extensively on the geology and paleontology of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. His scholarly interests range from micropaleontology to ichthyosaurs and fossil whales of the Oregon Coast.

Gregory Retallack, co-Director of Paleontological Collections

(541) 346-4558,

Retallack (BA, 1973, Macquarie University, Australia; PhD, 1978, New England University, Australia) is a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. He is interested in life on land before Devonian (417 Ma) evolution of familiar kinds of land plants. This involves the study of fossil soils ranging in age up to 3500 million years, mainly in spectacular exposures of the Australian desert. The scientific questions under investigation are the role of life on land in oxidation of the atmosphere and other global changes in paleoclimate.

Edward Davis, Paleontological Collections Manager


Davis (BS, 1999, Geology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; PhD, 2005, Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley)  has been with the museum since 2007. His museum experience stems from several years of graduate research fellowship employment in the collections of the UC Museum of Paleontology. His research interests focus on the assembly of landscape-scale ecological processes in large mammals, as seen through the lens of deep time, but he has recently become interested in the evolution of development in artiodactyl horns and antlers.

Samantha Hopkins, Curator of Paleontology

(541) 346-2150,

Elizabeth Orr, Curator of Paleontology

(541) 346-4577,