Tommie N. Cotton (MSc, University of Edinburgh, 2016) was the Arkansas Archeological Survey HSU research station’s archeological assistant from September 2019 to September 2021, when she transitioned into the role as Digitization Specialist. She is an Arkansas native with cultural resource management experience in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Illinois. She got her start in anthropology with a BA from Lyon College in Batesville, during which she attended field schools in Bulgaria and Spain. Now, she is the Survey's Digitization Specialist and works with staff to develop digitization plans of their hardcopy materials and implements those plans for material preservation and accessibility.



Dr Jeffrey M. Mitchem retired as the Parkin Archeological State Park Research Station Archeologist for the Arkansas Archeological Survey and Research Associate Professor of Anthropology for the University of Arkansas at the end of March 2022. Dr. Mitchem was hired in 1990 to establish the the Parkin Station and his research interests have focused on early Spanish/Native American contact in the southern United States, including the study of glass beads, and European weapons and armor.
READ MORE: Parkin Research Station Archeologist Dr. Jeffrey M. Mitchem Retiring

Headshot photograph of Jeffrey Mitchem



Alex W. Barker (PhD University of Michigan 1999) will start as the Director of the Arkansas Archaeological Survey on 1 January 2022. He succeeds longtime director and ARAS station archaeologist Dr. George Sabo III. Barker plans to continue building the national and international stature of the Survey as a world-class cultural heritage institution.
READ MORE: Alex W. Barker New ARAS Director

Formal portrait of ARAS Director Alex W. Barker


Virginia O'Connor started as the new Archeological Assistant at the University of Arkansas Monticello station on December 1, 2021. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2021 with a bachelor's degree in Anthropology, with a focus in archeology and a minor in geography. Virginia grew up in the foothills of the Ozarks between Ozark, Arkansas and Stilwell, Oklahoma. She moved to Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas. During a gap in her undergraduate studies, she volunteered with numerous organizations and ended up attending the 2016 Society/Survey Training Program near Parkin Archeological State Park. After getting firsthand lab and field experience in archeology, she returned home to Fayetteville and enrolled in anthropology courses. At the end of her undergraduate degree, O'Connor attended a field school through the University of Arkansas led by the Survey's Fayetteville Station Archeologist, Dr. Jessica Kowalski. The field school was on a multicomponent site in northwest Arkansas and included field excavations and lab analysis. Virginia recently moved to Monticello with her dog, Rylie, and is very excited to continue learning about archeology in the Southeast.

Portrait of Virginia O'Connor



The Arkansas archeological community lost a treasured member on October 12th, 2021 when Larry Porter passed away peacefully at home after a brief illness. Larry  had just retired as station assistant at the WRI Research Station and was a long-time member of the Arkansas Archeological Society.
Remembering Larry Porter

Photo of Larry Porter at Toltec Mounds in 2010



Dr. George Sabo III retired as Director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey and Professor in the University of Arkansas’s Department of Anthropology at the end of June 2021. He began work as station archeologist at the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s University of Arkansas research station in Fayetteville (ARAS-UAF) in 1979 and became Director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey in 2013. Here is a look back on some of his accomplishments and contributions to Arkansas archeology as we wish him a happy retirement.
READ MORE: ARAS Director Dr. George Sabo III Retires

Formal photo of Dr. George Sabo III



Deborah Sabo, Editor and Publications Program director, retired at the end of June after 22 years at the Survey. Deborah was instrumental in revitalizing the publications program, completing work on many Popular Series and Research Series volumes in addition to the Annual Reports, and contributed in many other ways to ARAS's research and public outreach efforts.
READ MORE: Deborah Sabo

Photo of Deborah Sabo in 2021



Larry Porter, longtime Archeological Assistant for the Arkansas Archeological Survey, is retiring as of October 1st, 2021. Larry’s field work skills, archeological knowledge, accomplishment as an artist, and friendly demeanor will be missed at the Survey. We thank him for the work that he has done on behalf of Arkansas’s cultural heritage.
READ MORE: Larry Porter Retires

Larry Porter documenting rock art


Julia Fan (MA, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2005, MSc, Durham University, 2005) started as the new Publications Editor for the Arkansas Archeological Survey on September 1, 2021. She succeeds Deborah Sabo, who retired in June 2021. Julia hopes to continue her predecessor’s work and increase the visibility of the Publications Program, as well as expand its Popular Series for the general public.
Prior to joining the Survey, Julia worked in communications and public outreach for the ECEP Alliance and CAITE, two National Science Foundation-funded projects dedicated to K-12 computer science education reform and increasing diversity in computing and information technology.  Julia was previously a bioarcheologist and taught undergraduate courses in anthropology and archeology throughout Massachusetts. She conducted her dissertation research on Bronze Age human skeletal remains from northwest China and worked on forensic archeological excavations with the former Joint POW/ MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. She has also conducted research and fieldwork in southeast Asia, China, England, Jordan, and Sudan.  Julia is excited to be joining the Arkansas Archaeological Survey and is looking forward to contributing her editorial and public outreach experience to promoting archeology in Arkansas.

Photo of Publications Editor Julia Fan


Taylor Greene (MA, University of Mississippi, In-progress), is the Research Assistant for the Survey at Southern Arkansas University. He has completed fieldwork across the United States, from the Mississippi Delta to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky to the California Cascades, and has worked in a variety of Historical and Pre-Contact contexts. His research focuses on Mississippian Ceremonial practices, and how space is utilized in ceremony.

Photo of SAU station assistant Taylor Green standing in front of a rock formation in Nebraska


John R. Samuelsen (PhD, University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, 2020) started as the new Science and Technology Administrator (Asst. Archeologist) for the Arkansas Archeological Survey on July 1, 2021. This promotion allows the Survey to take advantage of his years of research and training in archeological science and technology, both as a student at the University of Arkansas and in his years of experience at the Survey.
READ MORE: John R. Samuelsen Appointed Science and Technology Administrator

Dr. John Samuelsen


Paige A. Ford (PhD, University of Oklahoma, 2021) will start as the new Station Archeologist for the Toltec Mounds research station on August 2, 2021. She succeeds the work done by Dr. Liz Horton and plans to utilize her experiences in public outreach and research to continue fostering a community of folks interested in learning about and doing archeology. Working alongside colleagues at the Arkansas Archeological Survey as well as state park officials, interpreters, and avocational archeologists, she will build a program balanced between research, education, and outreach that will further our understandings of the archeology of this station’s area as well as teach the public how we learn about the past.
READ MORE: New Toltec Station Archeologist Paige Ford

New Toltec station archeologist Paige Ford


Matthew P. Rooney (PhD, University of Florida, 2021) will start as the new Station Archeologist for the University of Arkansas Monticello research station on July 1, 2021. He will be stepping up to build on the fabulous work performed by his predecessor, Dr. Jodi Barnes, and plans to use his talents and experiences to continue generating public interest and participation in archeology and history projects within the station area.
READ MORE: New UAM Station Archeologist Matthew Rooney



Madelyn Rose graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Cultural Anthropology in May of 2018. She started as a work study student with the University Museum in 2014 and moved to the Survey in 2015, working for various grants. For the past two years she has been working under an ANCRC grant helping to develop the computerized database system. In her new position as Collections Technician, Madelyn will be continuing work with collections care, preservation, and access to the Arkansas Archeological Survey Collections through various avenues.

Madelyn Rose, ARAS Collections Technician


Michelle Rathgaber (PhD, University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, 2019) will start as the new Educational Outreach Coordinator for the Arkansas Archeological Survey on April 1. She will step in to continue programs started by Dr. Melissa Zabecki (now the Arkansas State Archeologist), and plans to branch out into new outreach and educational opportunities as well.
READ MORE: New Educational Outreach Coordinator Dr. Michelle Rathgaber

Dr. Michelle Rathgaber, Educational Outreach Coordinator


Melissa (Mel) Zabecki (PhD University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, 2009) will be the new State Archeologist starting in January 2021. She replaces Dr. Ann Early, who retired in June 2020.
READ MORE: New Arkansas State Archeologist Dr. Melissa Zabecki

Dr. Melissa Zabecki assumes new role as Arkansas State Archeologist in 2021


Dr. Jodi Barnes  is starting the new year with a change in venue. She will be missed not only as a valuable colleague talented at interpretation of archeological data for the public and with fantastic grant writing skills, but also as a friend and mentor. We wish her all the best for her new endeavors in South Carolina.
READ MORE: Best Wishes to Jodi Barnes

Jodi Barnes at Taylor House. Photo by Carl Drexler.


The Survey says farewell to Dr. Elizabeth Horton, Station Archeologist at the Toltec Mounds Research Station since 2011, as she moves on to a new stage in her career, developing a paleoethnobotanical and ethnobotanical services company, based out of Charlottesville, VA. Her cutting-edge research, exacting field methods, and clever wit make her a superb archeologist and a wonderful colleague. She will be greatly missed.
READ MORE: Best wishes to Dr. Horton on her new endeavors

Dr. Liz Horton in the Plum Bayou Garden at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park


Arkansas State Archeologist Ann M. Early retired in June, 2020 after 48 years with the Arkansas Archeological Survey.
READ MORE: Ann M. Early ARAS Career Highlights

Dr. Ann M. Early retired as Arkansas State Archeologist in June, 2020.


We were deeply saddened in April, 2021 to learn of the passing of our friend and colleague Frank F. Schambach, who since his 2006 retirement from the Arkansas Archeological Survey has resided with his wife Marilyn in Afton, New York.
Frank F. Schambach Passing