Museum Research Associates

Wesley Bernardini

bernardini350pxWes Bernardini is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Redlands in southern California. His research, conducted in collaboration with the Hopi Tribe, addresses migration, identity, and landscape in the pre-contact American Southwest. His recent research employs GIS to understand how social meaning was assigned to natural landforms. He is the author of two books as well as articles in American Antiquity, the Journal of Archaeological Science, the Journal of Archaeological Research, the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, and Kiva.

Evelyn Billo and Robert Mark

billo-RupestrainCyberServices300pxRobert Mark (Stanford University: Ph.D. 1972 Geology, MS 1969 Physics; City College New York: BS 1964 Physics/Math) and Evelyn Billo (New Mexico State University: BS 1965 Math/Geology) are retired United States Geological Survey (USGS) Physical Scientists and Digital Mapping Consultants, sole proprietors of Rupestrian CyberServices, and Research Associates at the Museum of Northern Arizona since 2007. Their USGS backgrounds include studying lunar rocks and craters, reservoir induced seismicity, and landslide susceptibility mapping. A 1981 vegetation recovery study in Chaco Canyon introduced them to the spiral petroglyph solar marker on Fajada Butte and began their 35-year dedication to the wonderful world of rock art site documentation and research. Evelyn and Bob share awards from the American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA) for Conservation and Preservation (1999) and the Oliver Award for Excellence in Photography in 2002. Bob pioneered the use of image enhancement techniques on pictographs, high resolution panoramic photography using Gigapan technology, interactive 3-D models, and the use of iPads, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), and virtual reality viewers in rock art site documentation. Evelyn, a past president of ARARA, a certified rock art recorder with the Arizona Archaeological Society, and grant/proposal writer has worked with dozens of professional archaeologists and hundreds of volunteers. She and Bob have photographed and documented rock art sites managed by Federal, State, Local, and Tribal agencies, conservancies, and private landowners. They were honored to assist French archaeologist, Jean Clottes in Chauvet Cave in 2000.

Dennis Gilpin

DennisGilpin300pxDennis Gilpin is a professional archaeologist specializing in the anthropology, archaeology and history of the Four Corners region. He received his BA in anthropology from the University of Oklahoma and his MA in anthropology from the University of Arizona. He worked for the Navajo Nation Archaeology Department from 1978 to 1992, for SWCA Environmental Consultants from 1992 to 2008, and for PaleoWest Archaeology since 2008. He is best known for his discovery of early maize at sites in northeastern Arizona, his research on Chacoan outliers, his investigations of late prehistoric sites in northeastern Arizona, and his studies on Navajo archaeology and history. As a research associate at the Museum of Northern Arizona, he completed a study of the architecture of Atsinna Pueblo (A.D. 1275-1350) at El Morro National Monument, west-central New Mexico. His current research is a study of the architecture of Awatovi Pueblo (A.D. 1300-1700) in northeastern Arizona, based on the excavations at the site by the Harvard Peabody Museum from 1935 to 1939.

Dr. Atsunori Ito

itoDr. Atsunori Ito is an assistant professor at the Japan National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku). He specialized in social anthropology at Tokyo Metropolitan University, where he received his PhD in 2011. Since 2003, he has conducted field research on indigenous intellectual property issues among Hopi in Arizona. In Japan, he has studied the circulation of fake and imitation Native American art commodities; and in 2007 Ito started collection research on Hopi Katsina dolls at Japanese museums with the goal of preventing objects becoming orphan works. Influenced by Jim Enote (the director of A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, Zuni, NM) and his colleagues, Ito’s interests have moved to museum anthropology. Ito now leads Minpaku’s project titled “Documenting and Sharing Information on Ethnological Materials: Working with Native American Tribes” in partnership with MNA. Ito has invited Hopi carvers and jewelers to Minpaku, Osaka, Japan, to do collection review and discuss review and data sharing methodology.

Leigh Marymor

MarymorLeigh Marymor is the Compiler of Rock Art Studies: A Bibliographic Database. The RAS project is a searchable bibliographic database of the World's rock art literature that contains more than 35,000 citations. Leigh is a Past President of the American Rock Art Research Association and co-founder of the Bay Area Rock Art Research Association. Leigh holds a B.S. degree in Community Education, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He is a trained textile artist, and is President of The Lunt Marymor Company, a construction firm located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jennifer McLerran 

mclerranJennifer McLerran is an Associate Professor of art history at Northern Arizona University where she teaches Native American art history and museum studies. She has a Ph.D. in Native American art from the University of Washington, Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Colorado State University and a Master of Humanities degree from the University of Colorado. Dr. McLerran served as Curator at the Kennedy Museum of Art at Ohio University from 2001 to 2007 and Curator of the Museum at MNA from 2007-2009.

Recent publications by Dr. McLerran include A New Deal for Native Art: Indian Arts and Federal Policy 1933—1943 (University of Arizona Press, 2009), A:shiwi A:wan Ulohnanne: The Zuni World (A:shiwi A:wan Heritage Center and Museum, Zuni, NM and Museum of Northern Arizona, 2011, co-authored with Jim Enote), and Weaving Is Life: Navajo Weavings from the Edwin L. and Ruth E. Kennedy Southwest Native American Collection (University of Washington Press, 2007). Dr. McLerran has also authored numerous articles on Native American art and culture for American Indian Art and American Indian Culture and Research Journal. She is currently completing a new book, tentatively titled New Deal Navajo Weaving.

John Meredith

meredithJohn Meredith majored in Spanish language and literature, earning a master’s degree from Harvard University, before changing focus and obtaining his doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Arizona. He taught at a community college in Wyoming for ten years, then moved to the National Endowment for the Humanities as a program officer, first in what was then the Division of State Programs and later in the Division of Public Programs where he worked primarily with musem applicants. He ultimately spent more than 25 years at NEH and retired in 2012. Beginning in 2005 he also taught Spanish and Anthropology as an adjunct at Northern Virginia Community College. He continues to teach Anthropology as an adjunct at Northland Pioneer College. His interests have always centered broadly on the cultures and history of the U.S. Southwest, particularly on the rock art of the region and its relationship to native cultures today.

Trevor Reed

trevor-reedTrevor Reed (Hopi) is a JD/PhD candidate at Columbia Law School and Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he conducts research on indigenous intellectual property rights and music repatriation. He received his masters degree in Arts Administration from Columbia University’s Teachers College following graduation from Brigham Young University (BYU) with a Bachelors degree in music composition. Reed's current research explores the dynamic landscape of Hopi musical creativity and song circulation. While at the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA), Reed will be developing a new musical work for singer and small orchestral ensemble in collaboration with Hopi traditional composer/singer Clark Tenakhongva for Grand Canyon National Park's centennial in 2016. He will also be conducting research with the musical collections currently housed at MNA. Reed is a recipient of the Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship and is a graduate fellow with the American Indian Graduate Center. Reed and Tenakhongva's project at MNA is supported by New Music USA.

Dr. Richard Ciolek-Torello

rct2Dr. Richard Ciolek-Torello obtained a B.A. in Anthropology at UCLA and a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He is a Registered Professional Archaeologist and since 1969 has worked on hundreds of archaeological and historical projects in the U.S. Southwest and southern California. He currently serves as Vice President at Statistical Research, Inc. and is involved in SRI's international Cultural Heritage Management program. Between 1979 and 1988, he served as a staff archaeologist in MNA’s cultural resource management program. Dr. Ciolek-Torello is working with MNA staff to complete a detailed and comprehensive report on archaeological investigations at two Mogollon pit house villages on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. These investigations were carried out in the mid-1980s by MNA archaeologists, but the report was never completed. A summary of this research entitled “Before Kinishba: Two Late Pithouse Period Settlements near Fort Apache” by Richard Ciolek-Torello and Carl Halbirt was recently published in the volume Kinishba Lost and Found: Mid-Century Excavations and Contemporary Perspectives, edited by John R. Welch, Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series 206, University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Chris E. Downum

Chris Downum is a Professor of Anthropology and former director of the Anthropology Laboratories at Northern Arizona (NAU). He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. Since 1982, he has conducted research on the archaeology of northern Arizona, principally with the U.S. National Park Service at Wupatki, Walnut Canyon, and Sunset Crater National Monuments. Downum’s professional interests include questions of ethnicity and conflict, the chronology of ancient southwestern ceramics, and the role of archaeology in public policy. He is editor and author of “Hisatsinom: Ancient Peoples in a Land Without Water” (2012, School for Advanced Research Press), which features both archaeological and indigenous perspectives on ancient life around the San Francisco Peaks. He has also developed a Virtual Museum for National Park (NPS) units in the American Southwest ( This project, a joint effort between NAU, NPS, and the Museum of Northern Arizona, seeks to enhance visitor experiences at cultural parks and provide digital access to museum collections. Downum’s current research at MNA focuses on tree-ring dated pottery collections from the Flagstaff area, with the goal of identifying precisely how and at what rate specific pottery attributes (color, texture, thickness, temper, and design) changed through time.