Over the past ten years, teams from UC San Diego and UC Berkeley have independently excavated and produced digital reconstructions of ancient sites in Jordan.

Busayra and Diban (UC Berkeley)

The UC Berkeley team has combined archaeological research, site management and community development at two prominent first millennium BCE settlements in western Jordan, Dhiban and Busayra, the capitals of the Iron Age kingdoms of Moab and Edom, respectively. Both sites have seen sporadic excavation during the 20th century, but were left neglected and unprotected from natural (erosion, animals) and human interventions (e.g., foot traffic, looting etc.) which damaged the sites’ cultural resources. Starting in 2004, the UC Berkeley team and partners renewed research at the two sites to address unanswered research questions and to carry out site management activities to protect cultural resources. Recently, the team’s work was recognized with a three-year U.S. Agency for International Development grant to conduct site management and community education projects at Busayra. Over a five-year period, the UC Berkeley Catalyst effort will excavate three Iron Age monumental buildings (two at Busayra, one at Dhiban). The organic and inorganic evidence recovered from these buildings will answer several questions pertaining to the economic organization of Moab and Edom. Ceramic vessels will be a major class of recovered evidence that will answer questions concerning storage, trade and production. The evidence will be used to test and refine UCSD’s Pottery Informatics Queriable Database that already contains artifacts from Iron Age settlements further south in Jordan where UC San Diego has excavated for a decade. UC Berkeley and UC San Diego hopes the expansion to a regional ceramic vessel database will test the limits of its applicability across larger geographic spaces. At the same time, the UC Berkeley team will generate 3D visualizations of the monumental buildings for display on the CAVE kiosk to be installed at the university’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, and students on the project will use the kiosk to study the Dhiban and Busayra buildings’ space syntax as well as object artifacts found in specific rooms. The UC Berkeley team also employs “site ambassadors” in both communities to monitor or mitigate possible threats to the sites.

UC Catalyst Personnel:

  • Benjamin Porter, Professor, Near Eastern Archaeology and Acting Director, Hearst Museum, UC Berkeley
  • Wolfgang Alders, Graduate Student, Near Eastern Archaeology, UC Berkeley

Faynan (UC San Diego)

Just 20 miles south of Busayra, Faynan region is southern Jordan’s ancient mining and metallurgy center, and it is the epicenter of UC San Diego’s Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project (ELRAP). The ELRAP project has conducted fieldwork in the past decade at excavation sites spanning the Neolithic to Islamic periods. It was here that UC San Diego undertook one of the first “paperless” archaeological digs in 1999. Over the past five years, with support from the NSF for an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) project in cultural heritage diagnostics, Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute trained 40 Ph.D. students to work on technologies for cultural heritage, primarily in cyber-archaeology, to hone tool for applying IT to digital data acquisition, analysis, curation and dissemination. The UC San Diego field site allowed graduate students to work at a range of archaeological excavations in Faynan. Beginning in Fall 2011, IGERT Trainees learned techniques of traditional “dirt” archaeology as well as state-of-the-art “cyber” archaeology, and the UC San Diego team operated a Jordan Cyber-archaeology Lab in Shobak as a year-round research and training facility to help students and foreign scholars as well as Jordanian archaeologists learn how to use digital archaeology tools. IGERT Trainees participated in expeditions to Jordan, where they learned how to analyze and create computer models of artifacts that they have dug up at nearby excavation sites. Students are also trained on field cyberinfrastructure to support a variety of data types ranging from field notes (text) to 3D scans and remote-sensing data. The fieldwork, which also included hundreds of UC San Diego undergraduate students over the years, producing massive digital datasets focused on the role of technology (ancient mining and metallurgy) in social evolution since 10,000 years ago.

Currently, UC San Diego researchers focus on the role of ancient mining and metallurgy on social change in Faynan during the Iron Age (c. 1200 - 500 BCE), including at the site at Khirbat en-Nahas (in Arabic, “ruins of copper”), the largest Iron Age copper production center in the Levant. (Findings at the site by UC San Diego archaeologists have pushed back by roughly 200 to 400 years the accepted start date of metal production in the area.) The growing list of cyber-archaeology tools has included 3D artifact scanning, immersive virtualization of excavations, and ultra-high-resolution imaging in order to facilitate research or create digital reconstructions.

Unlike Busayra, which is in the highlands, Khirbat en-Nahas is in the lowlands at an elevation of only 83 meters above sea level (more than a thousand meters less than Busayra). The two very different areas were both part of the biblical Edom. Researchers had not solved the question of who controlled metal production at Khirbat en-Nahas during the Iron Age period that followed the collapse of many Late Bronze Age civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean region. Now that the earliest date of production has been pushed back 200 to 400 years, new research questions and excavations aim at understanding the emergence of the Edomite state (specifically the influence of the broader Assyrian empire versus the influence of neighboring statelets such as Israel, Judah, Moab and others.

ELRAP and its successive field schools have opened up successive new excavation sites in the Faynan region, using the research to train undergraduates, graduate students and members of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in the most current aspects of archaeological method and theory as well as emerging cyber-archaeology tools.

UC Catalyst Personnel:

  • Thomas E. Levy, Distinguished Professor, Anthropology and Judaic Studies; Director, Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability; Principal Investigator, UC Catalyst; Director, ELRAP
  • Mohammad Najjar, Visiting Scholar, Anthropology (UC San Diego) and Co-Director, ELRAP
  • Aaron Gidding, Alumnus, Anthropology; Advisor, UC Catalyst
  • Matthew Vincent, Alumnus, Anthropology; Advisor, UC Catalyst
  • Matthew Howland, Graduate Student, Anthropology
  • Brady Liss, Graduate Student, Anthropology
  • Craig Smitheram, Graduate Student, Anthropology

Thomas E. Levy, Director and Principal Investigator, UC San Diego

Thomas Evan Levy is Distinguished Professor and holds the Norma Kershaw Chair in the Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Neighboring Lands at the University of California San Diego.  He is a member of the Department of Anthropology and Jewish Studies Program, and leads the Cyber-Archaeology research group at the Qualcomm Institute, the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Levy is a Levantine field archaeologist with interests in the role of technology, especially early mining and metallurgy, on social evolution from the beginnings of sedentism and the domestication of plants and animals in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (ca. 7500 BCE) to the rise of the first historic Levantine state-level societies in the Iron Age (ca. 1200 – 500 BCE).  A Fellow of the Explorers Club, Levy won the 2011 Lowell Thomas Award for “Exploring the World’s Greatest Mysteries.”  Levy has been the principal investigator of many interdisciplinary archaeological field projects in Israel and Jordan that have been funded by the National Geographic Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, and other organizations.  He also conducts ethnoarchaeological research in India.  Levy, his wife Alina Levy and traditional Sthapathy craftsmen from the village of Swamimalai co-authored the book "Masters of Fire: Hereditary Bronze Casters of South India" (Bochum: German Mining Museum, 2008).  The author has published 13 books and several hundred scholarly articles. Levy and his colleague Mohammad Najjar won Biblical Archaeology Review’s Best BAR Article award for “Condemned to the Mines: Copper Production & Christian Persecution.”  His most recent book is "New Insights into the Iron Age Archaeology of Edom, Southern Jordan - Surveys, Excavations and Research from the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project" (UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press), which he co-edited with M. Najjar and E. Ben-Yosef.

Professor Levy was Co-PI on the NSF IGERT $3.2 million grant for Training, Research and Education in Engineering for Cultural Heritage Diagnostics (TEECH).  He also directs the UC San Diego Levantine and Cyber-Archaeology Laboratory and is Director of the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability (CCAS) at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute.  Levy was recently elected Chair of the Committee on Archaeological Policy (CAP) of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is the Principal Investigator on the $1 million, two-year UCOP Catalyst grant for At-Risk World Heritage and the Digital Humanities.

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Willeke Wendrich Co-Principal, UCLA

UCLA Prof. Willeke Wendrich is the newly-appointed Director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (CIoA) at UCLA. She holds the Joan Silsbee Chair of African Cultural Archaeology and she is a Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Digital Humanities in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, all at UCLA. Prof. Wendrich also chairs the Institute for Field Research (IFR) Board of Directors. The CIoA is one of the most important global research centers in archaeology, with a graduate program ranked #1 in the United States by the National Academy of Sciences. Among her research endeavors, Prof. Wendrich is directing the Ethiopia-Shire Archaeological Project and Field School (see Where We Work), and previously directed the IFR field school in the Fayum region of Egypt (since 2002). In addition to archaeology, the UCLA professor’s research interests include craft specialization and cultural transmission, archaeology and mobility, Neolithic and neolithization in Egypt, as well as digital humanities research and education. Prof. Wendrich received her Ph.D. from Leiden University (Netherlands) in 1999 with a dissertation on the social context of Ancient Egyptian basketry. Previously she earned her Master’s degree in History of Religions from the University of Amsterdam, specializing in ancient Egyptian religion, archaeology, language and philosophy of science. Dr. Wendrich is also Editor-in-Chief of the online UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, and Editorial Director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.


Benjamin Porter Co-Principal, UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Prof. Benjamin W. Porter is a Catalyst co-PI and Acting Director of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology as well as Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in UC Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies Department. He is a Near Eastern archaeologist who investigates how past Middle Eastern and Mediterranean societies built resilient communities and institutions in arid and semi-arid zones. Prof. Porter directs field archaeology projects in Jordan at the Iron Age capitals of Dhiban and Busayra. He also co-directs a museum collections project at the Hearst Museum that is researching evidence from Peter B. Cornwall's 1941 expedition to Bahrain and Eastern Saudi Arabia. Prof. Porter’s 2013 book, Complex Communities: The Archaeology of Early Iron Age West-Central Jordan, won the American Schools of Oriental Research 2014 G.E. Wright Book Award. A co-edited volume, Remembering the Dead in the Ancient Near East: Recent Contributions from Bioarchaeology and Mortuary Archaeology, appeared in 2014. Prof. Porter’s research has been funded by the NSF, the American Philosophical Society, the Max Van Berchem Foundation, the Warren G. Hellman Fellows Fund, and the Louis J. Kolb Society of Fellows at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a founding board member of the Institute for Field Research (, a non-profit organization that supports excellence in archaeological field school training. Prof. Porter earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007.

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Nicola Lercari Co-Principal, UC Merced

UC Merced Prof. Nicola Lercari is a Catalyst co-PI and Assistant Professor of World Heritage in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at UC Merced since 2015. He investigates 3D mapping and remote sensing technologies applied to cultural and natural heritage, cross-media systems for museums, and the analytical and interpretative role of the visualization of the past. His other research interests include cultural visualization, cultural heritage, 3D reconstruction, geographic information systems (GIS), digital preservation, digital history, museum studies, virtual museum and exhibit design, intangible heritage, digitization of artifacts and immersive virtual environments. Prof. Lercari co-founded the Dig@Lab, a digital archaeology initiative at Duke University, and he does fieldwork with the 3D-Digging project at Çatalhöyük (Turkey), involving excavation and digital documentation of a Neolithic city in Central Anatolia, where he supervises laser scanning, digital documentation and real-time visualization. Prof. Lercari earned his Ph.D. in History and Computing from the University of Bologna (Italy) in 2011 with a dissertation on public history and the visualization of medieval urban spaces. He received his M.A. in 2007 from the same university.

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Jürgen SchulzeCo-Principal, UC San Diego

Dr. Jürgen P. Schulze is a co-PI on the Catalyst Project at UC San Diego. He is also an Associate Research Scientist in the Qualcomm Institute of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UC San Diego, and an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at the same university, where he teaches computer graphics and 3D user interaction. His research interests include scientific visualization in virtual environments, human-computer interaction, real-time volume rendering, graphics algorithms on programmable graphics hardware, and the use of mobile devices for 3D applications such as virtual reality. Dr. Schulze holds M.S. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts (1998) and University of Stuttgart (1999), and earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Stuttgart (Germany) in 2003. After his Ph.D., Dr. Schulze spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher in computer science at Brown University.

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Rita Lucarelli UC Berkely

Rita Lucarelli is an Assistant Professor of Egyptology at the Near Eastern Studies Department of UC Berkeley. She is also an Assistant Curator of Egyptology at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley and a Fellow of the Digital Humanities in Berkeley. Lucarelli’s research interests include religion, magic and science in ancient Egypt and in antiquity, ancient Egyptian funerary literature, demonology in ancient Egypt and antiquity, and the application of digital humanities tools and techniques in Egyptology. The professor is currently leading a project aiming at realizing 3D models of ancient Egyptian coffins at the Hearst Museum and in other ancient Egyptian collections in California, for which she has already received three consecutive grants (2014-2017) sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Digital Humanities of UC Berkeley for “Capacity Building and Integration in the Digital Humanities.” For this project, the magical spells decorating these objects are taken as a case study for investigating the materiality of the text in relation to ancient Egyptian funerary literature. ProfessorLucarelli is also completing a monograph on demonology in ancient Egypt, and she is one of the coordinators of the Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project.

From 2009 to 2012, Lucarelli worked on the Book of the Dead Project at the University of Bonn, Germany, which has produced an online database of over 4,000 Book of the Dead sources kept in museums and private collections around the world. She is the author of one monograph (“The Book of the Dead of Gatseshen: Ancient Egyptian Funerary Religion in the 10th Century BC.”) published in 2006 in the Egyptological Series Egyptologisches Uitgaven of Leiden University and of one edited book on Book of the Dead studies published in 2010 by Harrassowitz for the series Studien zum Altägyptischen Totenbuch. Lucarelli is also the author of scholarly articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed Egyptological journals and volumes.

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Ilya Zaslavsky UC San Diego

Ilya Zaslavsky is director of the Spatial Information Systems Lab at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) of the University of California San Diego. His research focuses on distributed information management systems and spatial and temporal data integration. Zaslavsky received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington (1995), and earlier a Ph.D. equivalent from the Russian Academy of Sciences (1990). He has led design and technical development in several large cyberinfrastructure projects supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, including the national-scale Hydrologic Information System and the EarthCube CINERGI and Data Discovery Hub. Zaslavsky is a co-chair of the OGC/WMO Hydrology Domain Working Group, which develops international standards for water data. His lab works on a range of GIS and information system applications, and develops software used by archaeology researchers.

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Arianna Campiani Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Merced

Arianna Campiani is a part of the Catalyst Project as a Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Merced, under the supervision of Professor Nicola Lercari. She received her PhD in Architecture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a Dissertation that focused on the study of the urban form and the use of space at the two Classic Maya cities of Palenque and Chinikihá (Chiapas, Mexico). Arianna is interested in ancient urbanism, spatial analysis, photogrammetry, topographic surveys and in the way 3Ddata can enhance research from several perspectives, as to understand the relationship between people and their surrounding built environment or in the way this kind of information improve the interpretation of architectural and archaeological remains, as well as their conservation.

Isabel Rivera-Collazo Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

UC San Diego Prof. Isabel Rivera-Collazo is Assistant Professor of Biological, Ecological and Human Adaptation to Climate Change at the Department of Anthropology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography since 2016. Prof. Rivera-Collazo is an environmental archaeologist specialized on coastal and marine geoarchaeology (sediments and landscapes), archaeomalacology (mollusks in human contexts), and climate change. Her work focuses on applying a deep-time perspective to understanding how people respond to climate change. She is particularly interested on how sea level and environmental change affect livelihood, specifically food and habitat security, and the role of maritime culture over social resilience. She is also interested on the social significance of cultural heritage and how sea level rise poses a threat to its preservation. Her work also takes an applied approach by working with communities and grassroots organizations in Puerto Rico in a quest to understanding current and expected impacts of climate change. Prof. Rivera-Collazo earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology of University College London (UK) in 2011 with a dissertation in climate, coastal landscapes and human occupations in the mid-Holocene Caribbean. She received her M.Sc. in Paleoecology of Human Societies from the same university (2007).

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Richard Norris Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Dr. Richard Norris is a paleoecologist studying the history of human impacts and environmental change on coastal marine ecosystems. He works on fossils, geochemistry, sedimentology, and age-dating tools to understand the evolution of coastal ecosystems in the face of the growth of human civilization. Norris holds degrees from UC Santa Cruz (BS), University of Arizona (MS), and Harvard University (Ph.D.) and he was a research scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before joining the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD in 2002. Norris is curator of the SIO Geological Collections and Chair of the Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research and the MAS in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.

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Katie Cramer Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Dr. Katie Cramer is a Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program Postdoctoral Fellow in the Geosciences Research Division of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. She is a marine ecologist studying prehistorical and historical change in coastal marine ecosystems from the analysis of young fossil assemblages, historical archives, and archaeological data. Other research interests include marine biogeography, fisheries science, and marine policy and conservation. Cramer received her Ph.D. in Oceanography in 2011 and M.S. in Oceanography in 2007, both from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She did her undergraduate work in Ecology, Behavior, Evolution, also at UC San Diego, receiving her Bachelor's degree in 1998. Prior to her current position, Cramer was a Smithsonian Institution MarineGEO Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (2012-2014), Quantitative Ecologist for the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (2012), and NOAA Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellow with the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard (2011-2012).

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Thomas A. DeFanti Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Thomas A. DeFanti, PhD, is a research scientist at the Qualcomm Institute, part of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UC San Diego, and a distinguished professor emeritus of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is recipient of the 1988 ACM Outstanding Contribution Award and was appointed an ACM Fellow in 1994. He shares recognition along with Electronic Visualization Laboratory director Daniel J. Sandin for conceiving the CAVE virtual-reality theater in 1991. His research interests include: virtual environments, digital libraries, scientific visualization, new methodologies for informal science and engineering education, paradigms for information display, distributed graphics over networks, algorithm optimization for massively parallel computing, sonification, human/computer interfaces, and abstract mathematical visualization. Dr. DeFanti is a Project Advisor on the Catalyst Project at UC San Diego, and Associate Director of CCAS for Scientific Visualization and Networks.

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Aaron Gidding Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Aaron Gidding is an Advisor to the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group. He studied at George Washington University and University College London before going to UC San Diego in 2008 to pursue his Ph.D. with Prof. Tom Levy. Gidding received his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2015 with a dissertation on socio-political circumstances for the development of copper as a commodity. The focus of his research is based in southern Jordan and southern Israel, home to many pastoral groups throughout time including the early Hebrews. The research focuses on better understanding the social history of the pastoral groups that occupied that space and how they interacted with other larger civilizations such as Egypt. has looked to develop innovative solutions for the development of large and complex datasets in archaeology. Much of Gidding’s work has been in the development of new tools for the acquisition of archaeological data in a structured work environment that enables the simple connection of various data types. The end goa: to enable a working environment that streamlines the four-dimensional reconstruction of archaeological space for the sake of answering complex questions that were difficult to answer without such a working environment.

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Ran Goldblatt Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Ran Goldblatt is a member of the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group. He is also a Research Fellow in UC San Diego’s Center on Social Justice and the Blum Cross-Border Initiative, as well as the Big Pixel Initiative in the Qualcomm Institute. Goldblatt received his Ph.D. in Geography and the Human Environment from Tel-Aviv University, Israel. He is especially interested in the spatial aspect of the human environment, in cognitive geography and in social justice. In his M.A. studies, he emphasized aspects of cognitive geography and the perception of built and 3D virtual environments, but for his doctoral research, Goldblatt investigated the interrelation between the built environment and segregation of Arabs and Jews in Israeli mixed cities. He is a GIS analyst, and in his research integrates different spatial analysis techniques with advanced visualization methods.

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Falko Kuester Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Falko Kuester is an Advisor to the Catalyst Project’s Virtual Reality Programming and Applications working group. He is a professor of Structural Engineering and the Calit2 Professor for Visualization and Virtual Reality, as well as director of the Calit2 Center of GRAVITY (Graphics, Visualization and Virtual Reality). Dr. Kuester also directs the Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Archaeology and Architecture (CISA3) in the Qualcomm Institute. Dr. Kuester received his Ph.D. in 2001 from UC Davis, and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, respectively, in 1994 and 1995 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. Kuester's research interests include tera-scale scientific visualization and virtual reality, image-based modeling and rendering, as well as distributed and remote visualization. His research efforts are aimed at creating intuitive, high-resolution virtual environments, providing engineers and scientists with a means to intuitively explore and analyze massive and complex, higher-dimensional datasets. In this context, his focus is on developing new methods for the acquisition, compression, streaming, synchronization and visualization of data. He applies these techniques to research challenges posed by distributed virtual environments and their application to earth system science, earthquake engineering, biomedical engineering and medicine. Dr. Kuester has been active in virtual reality research for over a decade and the stringent VR requirements have served as important performance criteria for his large-scale distributed data analysis and visualization projects. He is also active in research and development of digitally enabled workspaces that support distributed, collaborative and pervasive office of the future and classroom of the future environments. Other application areas of his research include simulation-based design, rapid prototyping, computational fluid dynamics, command and control and forensic analysis.

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Albert Yu-Min Lin Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Albert Yu-Min Lin is a member of the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group, and Associate Director for Remote Sensing in the CCAS. He is also a Research Scientist in the Qualcomm Institute, and an Emerging Explorer of the National Geographic Society in the field of technology enabled exploration. He is an expert in merging remote exploration with crowdsourced citizen science an emergent collective reasoning. Lin founded and directed numerous programs, including the UC San Diego-National Geographic Engineers for Exploration Program, the Exploration Lab, the Distributed Health Labs, and the international effort known as the Valley of the Khans Project. Based in the Qualcomm Institute, a division of the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UC San Diego, he pushes the limits of field-based research and exploration.

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Christopher McFarland Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Christopher McFarland is a member of the Catalyst Project’s Library Digital Repository Project. He is a programmer analyst at UC San Diego.


Stephen H. Savage Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Stephen H. Savage received his Ph.D. in Anthropology/Archaeology from Arizona State University, where he was an Affiliated Professor in the School of Human Evolution & Social Change, IT Manager for the Archaeological Research Institute, and a Scientific Software Engineer for the Institute for Humanities Research. Recently retired, he is the developer of the Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land, the Aegean Digital Archaeological Atlas, the Mediterranean Archaeological Network, and TerraWatchers. He is currently a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology, UC San Diego, and an Affiliated Investigator at the Center for Cyber-Archaeology & Sustainability in the Qualcomm Institute (also at UC San Diego), as well as a Senior Fellow at the Capitol Archaeological Institute, George Washington University. Dr. Savage is a Consultant to the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group.

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Lisa Tauxe Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Lisa Tauxe is an Associate Director for Earth and Marine Science in the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability (CCAS), and a Distinguished Professor in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Dr. Tauxe is a Distinguished Professor of Geophysics in the Geosciences Research Division and Department Chair/Deputy Director for Education at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her studies concentrate on paleomagnetism, the study of remanent magnetism in geological and archaeological materials. She is working to extend the record of paleointensity of Earth’s magnetic field behavior 200 million years back into history. Dr. Tauxe graduated cum laude as Scholar of the House from Yale University and earned an MA, MPhil, and PhD in geology from Columbia University. After graduate school, she joined Scripps as an Assistant Research Geophysicist. She has received many awards and honors, including the George P. Woollard Award of the Geological Society of America, Outstanding Academic Title in Earth Science from the American Library Association for Essentials of Paleomagnetism, the Antarctic Service Medal, the Benjamin Franklin Medal, the Arthur L. Day Medal, and she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She has served as a Distinguished Lecturer of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions and as an Invited Speaker of the Science Lecture Series at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Tauxe is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of the Geological Society of America, and of the American Geophysical Union. She has served as President of the Geomagnetism/Paleomagnetism Section and as the General Secretary/Treasurer of the American Geophysical Union.

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Matthew Vincent Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Matthew Vincent is an Advisor to the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group. Vincent earned his MA in Anthropology from UC San Diego in 2013, and is completing his Ph.D. at the University of Murcia (Spain), expected in 2016. The researcher has worked in Jordan since 2004 at sites such as Tall al-'Umayri, Tall Jalul, Khirbat al-Balu'a and more recently Khirbat Faynan. With experience in several of the primary ancient Transjordan Kingdoms (Ammon, Moab, and Edom), he is interested in the relationships of these various kingdoms with each other. His research focuses on the application of database technologies for archaeological research and cultural heritage conservation. As a grad student, Vincent co-founded Project Mosul and the subsequent startup Rekrei, a project to crowd-source imagery for photogrammetric reconstruction as a method to preserve the memory of lost cultural heritage. Founded in March, 2015, the project is developing new tools to empower the public to participate in the recovery of heritage.

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Philip Weber Affiliated Researcher, UC San Diego

Philip Weber is a programmer analyst in the Qualcomm Institute and a member of the Catalyst Project’s VR Programming and Applications working group. He earned his BS in Computer Science from UC San Diego and has worked in Calit2 since 2007, focusing on virtual reality. He was an undergraduate Calit2 Scholar in 2006.

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Scott McAvoy UC San Diego Library

Scott McAvoy is a Technology/Media Specialist working for UC San Diego Library’s Learning Spaces Program and holds a master’s degree in Educational Technology from San Diego State University. He runs the Library’s Digital Media lab and leads projects and services around Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3D Modeling, and 3D Printing. McAvoy joined the Catalyst team in September 2016, contributing his expertise with library spaces, IT infrastructure, and user experience to the implementation of the CAVEkiosk in Geisel Library, and providing day-to-day maintenance and user assistance. He continues to work towards improving the kiosk’s interface, hardware, and furnishings.

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Declan Fleming UC San Diego Library

Declan Fleming is the Chief Technology Strategist and Director of Information Technology Services (ITS) at the UC San Diego Library. The UC San Diego Library ITS group provides production support of Library services and develops leading-edge Digital Library software. Fleming started his career at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, managing the public computing sites for a number of years. He then moved West, doing corporate IT for several years in San Diego. He returned to academia in 2003 and finds libraries and their challenges to be fascinating. He is a member of the Catalyst Project’s Library Digital Repository Project.

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Catherine Friedman UC San Diego Library

Catherine Friedman is a member of the Catalyst Project’s Library Digital Repository Project. She is Associate University Librarian for Academic Services at UC San Diego. Friedman’s specializes in academic library user services to students, faculty and staff, including reference and research support, instruction, outreach, circulation, reserves, ILL/document delivery, and technology-enabled user services. Prior to UC San Diego, Friedman headed the Dewey Library for Management and Social Sciences at MIT, the reference division at the San Diego State University Library, and at Arizona State University Libraries. She received her M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1983.

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Juliane Schneider UC San Diego Library

Juliane Schneider is a member of the Catalyst Project’s Library Digital Repository Project. She is a Research Data Strategist for Research Data Curation at UC San Diego Libraries. Schneider works with the processes involved in the data lifecycle, including the areas of discoverability, ontologies, data sharing and the federal requirements for data sharing and data management plans. Her experience includes development and use of ontologies in discoverability, development of tools for text mining, and data analysis/transformation. Schneider earned M.S. degrees in Library Science and Information Systems at Drexel University in 1997.


Ho Jung Yoo UC San Diego Library

Ho Jung Yoo is a Data Curation Analyst in the Research Data Curation Program at UC San Diego Library, and she is a member of the Catalyst program’s Library Digital Repository Project. Yoo works with researchers to deposit highly reusable data collections into the Library's data repository. Prior to working in data curation, she studied the ecological dynamics of insect populations in natural and agricultural habitats.


Tom Holm Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Tom Holm is pursuing his Ph.D., under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Levy at UC San Diego, focusing on marine archaeology. After operating several businesses and non-profits involving educational and promotional programs, earth and biological sciences, and, renewable fuels, he is now studying human adaptation to coastal and marine environments. Holm has designed, built and operated mobile medical, research and rescue vehicles for automakers including General Motors, Ford, Mitsubishi, Kia and Mercedes-Benz. These vehicles, built under Holm’s EcoTrek Foundation, helped set new standards in “green technologies” and led GM to call him “a champion who is awakening mankind to alternatives in living and new methods to preserve our natural resources.” Added Mitsubishi: “Mr. Holm sets an amazingly high standard of integrity and performance.” Holm’s EcoTrek vehicles have been featured in TV shows, magazines, car shows and websites around the world. After running the Transcom firm for nearly two decades, Holm returned to college to earn a Master’s degree (with Honors) in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, hence his research focus on marine archaeology. Through his work, Holm identified cultural connections between California’s now-displaced island tribes and their mainland counterparts. His work was recognized in the U.S. Federal Register and led to the preservation of thousands of archaeological sites in California. Holm is now working with Dr. Levy through UCSD’s Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability on its flagship project – At-Risk Cultural Heritage and the Digital Humanities. The goal of the project is to protect similar sites near the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, as well as here in the Americas.

Wolfgang Alders Graduate Student, UC Berkely

Wolfgang Alders is a graduate student at UC Berkeley working with co-PI Benjamin Porter. Alders did his undergraduate work at Johns Hopkins University, receiving his BA in Near Eastern Studies and Archaeology in 2014. His interests include archaeological theory, excavation, remote sensing and GIS, archaeological survey, and UAVs for archaeology. While an undergrad, Alders participated in archaeological field schools in Kazakhstan and Oman, and he received a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award to build a UAV helicopter for capturing multispectral imagery of archeological landscapes. He also worked at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, including cataloguing and photographing the museum’s collection.

Caroline Arbuckle Graduate Student, UCLA

Caroline Arbuckle is a Ph.D. student at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, working in the lab of co-PI Willeke Wendrich. Her primary interest is the procurement, manufacture and use of wood during the pharaonic period in ancient Egypt. As a case study for the purposes of her dissertation, Arbuckle is looking at coffins specifically. She also works with Ellen Pearlstein in the Getty Conservation Program on identification of the wood species of ancient objects.


Sowparnika Balaswaminathan Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Sowparnika Balaswaminathan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UC San Diego under the mentorship of Professor Thomas Levy, and she is the Social Media Manager for the UC Catalyst project and the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability (CCAS). She works with a traditional sculptor community in Swamimalai, in the state of Tamilnadu, who specialize in casting bronze sculptures that have religious, cultural, artistic and archaeological values. As part of Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute and CISA3, Balaswaminathan has worked on ethnoarchaeological projects involving 3D modeling of antique bronzes, Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry of contemporary bronzecasting workshops, and a digital humanities-oriented online sculptor database. She has also participated in archaeological projects in Israel and Jordan, conducted ethnographic survey projects in Udupi and Kumbakonam (India), and curated archival projects in collaboration with the National Folklore Support Centre, Chennai. She interned with DakshinaChitra, an architectural museum in Chennai for a year and maintains her interest in museum studies through volunteering with the San Diego Museum of Art. Her interests include sociocultural anthropology, ethnoarchaeology, museology, and art and craft policy.

Email | Website

Matthew Howland Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Matthew Howland is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at UC San Diego, focusing on the archaeology of the southern Levant. He is in the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group. He is an archaeologist with interests in archaeological mapping, 3D visualization and modeling, spatial analysis, and landscape archaeology. Howland specializes as a balloon photographer, photographing archaeological sites for the purposes of documentation, analysis, and mapping. He also works with Structure-From-Motion techniques in order to quickly and cheaply model archaeological remains. For his dissertation, Howland focuses on the social organization of copper production and trade in Israel and Jordan in the early Iron Age, the period of David and Solomon. He investigates the extent to which different ancient polities, including Edom, Israel, and Judah, were involved in the trade and trafficking of copper. He does so with cutting-edge digital methods, including 3D imaging and GIS. He also works with his advisor, Prof. Tom Levy, on the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project, and Howland has used balloon photography at sites across the Southern Levant, including Petra, Khirbat Faynan, Tel Akko, and Qatzrin.

Email | Website

Brady Liss Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Brady Liss is a graduate student in the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group. He is a Ph.D. student in Anthropological Archaeology at UC San Diego, focusing on the Iron Age (the period of David and Solomon) and archaeometallurgy in southern Israel and Jordan. His interests and research focus on ancient metal production and how industrial-scale copper production influenced the social, political, and economic development of Iron Age polities such as the biblical Edomites. Through the use of modern technological approaches (such as XRF and FTIR), Liss uses micro-scale evidence in metallurgical production to elucidate the industrial, economic, and political evolutions of Iron Age polities. He works with Prof. Tom Levy on the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project.


Rachel Moy Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Rachel Moy is a Ph.D. student in the Archaeology Interdepartmental Program at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, and faculty member on the Ethiopia-Shire field school led by Moy’s advisor, UCLA Prof. Willeke Wendrich. Her areas of interest include the archaeology of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, settlement and landscape archaeology, pluralistic societies, cultural conservation, ancient identity, and ceramics. Her current research focuses on emergent political complexity ancd ceramics in the Ethiopian highlands. Moy earned her M.A. in Archaeology at UCLA focusing on Greco-Roman Egypt, after completing a B.A. in Near Eastern and Classical Archaeology at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. In addition to Egypt and Ethiopia, Moy has conducted fieldwork in Peru, Israel, and the Midwestern U.S.

Email | Website

Craig Smitheram Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Craig Smitheram is a graduate student in the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group. He is a Ph.D. student in Anthropological Archaeology in UC San Diego’s Levantine and Cyber-Archaeology Laboratory, advised by professor Thomas Levy, focusing on Iron Age archaeology of the Southern Levant. His research interests include cyber-archaeology, mining archaeology and geo-archaeology.


Aditya Sampath Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Aditya Sampath is an undergraduate Computer Science major at UC San Diego. He specializes in website development, and previously interned for two startups. Sampath is currently working on the CCAS Crafting Narratives project, which aims to document the work done by a community of sculptors and craftsmen in South India. In his free time, Sampath enjoys sleeping, coding, and playing Ultimate Frisbee. He also occasionally writes about himself in the third person. He hopes to go into the tech industry and work in the field of artificial intelligence or bioinformatics.

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Yuqing Deng Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Yuqing Deng is a sophomore in UC San Diego majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Economics. She is an undergraduate member of the Catalyst Project’s VR group, focusing on user interface development for the CAVEkiosk system deployed in UC San Diego's Geisel Library. Deng is an incoming intern at Oracle Corporation for Summer 2017.

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Yacoub Oulad Daoud Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Yacoub Oulad Daoud is a third-year Computer Science major active in the Catalyst Project’s VR Programming and Applications working group. He is helping develop the user interface of the CAVEkiosk system. Oulad Daoud is currently serving as president of the Triton Engineering Student Council and directed UC San Diego’s intercollegiate hackathon, SD Hacks, in 2016. On weekends, he often flies to hackathons at other universities as a part-time employee of Major League Hacking. The undergrad also works as a technical product manager intern at Workday.

Email | Website

Christian Gutierrez Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Christian Gutierrez is an undergraduate student at UC San Diego, studying Human-Computer Interaction and Computer Science. He is a member of the Catalyst Project’s VR Programming and Applications working group. He is very involved with virtual reality and 3D user interaction, both within his academics and in his personal endeavors. Furthermore, Gutierrez has VR, AR, and MR industry experience— having worked for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, Intel, and Nanome Inc. He and his team came in at first place int the first annual Cyber-Archaeology Virtual Reality Hackathon, sponsored by CCAS. He has served as the Chapter Secretary for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and was a previous officer for the UCSD Virtual Reality Club. In the future, he hopes to remain in the VR community to help promote and incorporate this technology into various industries.

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Anish Kannan Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Anish Kannan is an undergraduate student member of CCAS through his participation in the student-run Virtual Reality Club of UCSD. Majoring in computer science, he expects to earn his B.S. degree in 2018. In 2016 Kannan was a software engineering intern at Dell. In CCAS he is focusing on the development of virtual-reality experiences such as virtual archaeological sites. Kannan has competed in multiple hackathons in a team including two other CCAS students, Kristin Agcaoili and Connor Smith.

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Anthony Tamberino Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Anthony Tamberino is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at UC San Diego focusing on Archaeology. He holds a B.A. (2011) and M.A. (2013) in Anthropology from the University of Cincinnati. His interests and research focus on the applications of Remote Sensing, Geo-archaeology, Archaeometry, Spatial Analysis with Geographic Information Systems, and Cyber-archaeology to help understand the relationship of human culture change and the environment. He works with his advisor, Dr. Thomas Levy, in the Levantine and Cyber-Archaeology Laboratory.


Ian Jones Graduate Student, UC San Diego

Ian Jones is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UC San Diego. He is an anthropological archaeologist whose primary research interest is Islamic period settlement and economy in the southern Levant. His dissertation research, supervised by Prof. Thomas E. Levy, is focused on Middle Islamic period (1000-1400 AD) copper smelting in the Faynan region of southern Jordan, and its impact on the political economy of the Ayyubid polity, which controlled the region from 1187-1263 AD. In his research, Jones has also explored novel applications of satellite remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in archaeology.


Franklin Reece Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Franklin (Fritz) Reece is an undergraduate student member of CCAS. He is a freshman in Mathematics-Computer Science, and expects to receive his B.S. degree in 2020. At UC San Diego, he participates in the Computer Science and Engineering Society and the Society for Undergraduate Mathematics Majors. Prior to enrolling at UC San Diego in September 2016, Reece was an assistant teacher of mathematics, computer science, and web design for the Summer Lab program at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.

Email | Website

Arkin Gupta Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Arkin is an undergraduate at UC San Diego studying Computer Science & Mathematics. After completing his undergraduate studies, Arkin plans to work as a Software Developer & Engineer.

Email | Website

Michael Tolentino Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Michael Tolentino is an undergraduate Mathematics - Computer Science student at UC San Diego. He is part of the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowd-Sourcing working group as a head trainer for the TerraWatchers program. Michael is also part of the Computer Science and Engineering Society and Data Science Student Society at UCSD, has won several awards at coding competitions, and enjoys developing games in his free time.


Kristin Agcaoili Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Kristin Agcaoili is a UC San Diego undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Cognitive Science. She is an undergraduate member of the Catalyst Project's VR Programming and Applications working group. Kristin has been developing for Virtual Reality since 2014 and has created experiences for a variety of fields including health, education, and most recently, archaeology. Outside of the Catalyst group, she is a project lead within the Virtual Reality Club at UCSD, and is additionally involved with the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

Email | Website

Carolyn M Breeze Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Carolyn M Breeze is an undergraduate student in the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group.


Taylor Harman Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Taylor Harman is an undergraduate student at UCSD studying molecular biology. She currently works in the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group as a database programmer. After graduating, Taylor hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in the field of biological sciences. In her free time, she enjoys reading fantasy novels and playing the violin.


Andrew C. Johnson Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Andrew C. Johnson is an undergraduate student in the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group. The Archaeology student attends UC San Diego and aims to go on for a Ph.D. in Archaeology. Johnson has been part of the Levantine Archaeology Lab of Professor Tom Levy for over a year, on the Catalyst project, he works on cultural heritage and preservation of archaeological sites and data.


Connor Smith Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Connor Smith is a UC San Diego undergraduate student, and is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science, a minor in Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts, and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He is an undergraduate member of the Catalyst Project’s VR Programming and Applications working group. Smith is an experienced Virtual Reality developer, and has won several awards for several projects created using the Unity Game Engine. On campus, Connor is a tutor for the Computer Science and Engineering department, an organizer for the UC San Diego SD Hacks hackathon, and an officer of the Virtual Reality Club.

Email | Website

Rose Elliot Smith Undergraduate, UC San Diego

Rose Elliot Smith is an undergraduate student in the Catalyst Project’s Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group.


Elizabeth Anne Potamianos Advisory Council, Member

Elizabeth Anne Potamianos is a Member of the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability (CCAS) Advisory Council. She also serves on the board of the Sonnabend Collection Foundation. Potamianos is active in causes related to archaeology and art. She supported the reconstruction and preservation of ancient, Byzantine and Medieval pathways in Greece (The Paths of Greece) as well excavations at the Palace of Nestor in Pylos (also in Greece), which recently uncovered an early Mycenean burial site known as the Griffin Warrior Tomb. She founded the Art+Design program for the Harvard Club of San Diego to educate alumni about art, architecture and design in San Diego through conversations with museum directors and exhibition curators. Since 2005 Potamianos has been an Associate Director of the Sonnabend Gallery. From 1988-2002, she was an investment banker and served as a Director in Merrill Lynch's real estate investment banking group with responsibility for residential, commercial and office/industrial REITs. She received her A.B. in History, magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1987 and her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1993.


Margie Burton UC San Diego

Margie Burton is the Research Project Manager for the Catalyst Project, as well as a member of the UC San Diego Cultural Heritage Data Creation and Crowdsourcing working group. She is also a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology and is affiliated with the Levantine Archaeology Laboratory at UC San Diego. Prior to joining the project, she was Research Director at the San Diego Archaeological Center, a non-profit curatorial, education and research organization located in Escondido. Dr. Burton is a Ph.D. alumna from the UC San Diego Department of Anthropology. She did her doctoral work on Chalcolithic-Early Bronze age socio-economic change in the southern Levant. Her research interests include cyber-archaeology and prehistoric ceramic and ground stone technologies. She earned her BA from Stanford University in Cultural and Social Anthropology (jointly with a BS in Biological Sciences) and her MBA from UC Berkeley.


Alina Levy CCAS

Alina Levy is a molecular biologist with interests in human genetics, the natural environment, wildlife, and global cultural heritage. She earned her B.Sc. in Microbiology (University of Sheffield, UK), M.Sc. in Molecular Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and Postgraduate Certificate of Education at the University of Oxford, UK. Levy took the Safety Management Course at NATLSCO. Alina Levy has worked as a research scientist at CANJI-Schering Plough Research in Southern California; as a research technician in Cytogenetics at the Soroka Medical School Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and at the Genetics Laboratory at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel. She is currently a volunteer Para-botanist at the San Diego Museum of Natural History and volunteer at Patient Resource Services at the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego. Alina has participated as a staff member on more than 20 archaeological expeditions as an expedition logistics officer in Israel, Jordan and Greece.


CCAS Director Thomas Levy and his team were invited to work at Petra, Jordan’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage site, which dates from the 3rd century BCE. The site was destroyed in AD 363 by earthquake, and today faces threats from excessive tourism, looting, graffiti and potentially terrorism. The American Center of Oriental Research in Amman asked the UC San Diego team to record Petra’s extensive ancient city center in 3D, so in 2012, the archaeologists brought helium balloons and a high-definition 3D photography system to capture the site – out of which they would be able to develop a georeferenced 3D computer model of Petra’s ancient city center using structure-from-motion technology. The balloon allowed the UC San Diego team to capture aerial images of the extensive site, including Petra’s Temple of the Winged Lions and the Royal Tombs. At the same time, laser scanning produced a detailed record of the mosaic floor of Petra’s Byzantine Church using Visicore, a visualization software program developed at UC San Diego.

*T.E. Levy, C.A. Tuttle, M.L. Vincent, M. Howland, A.M. Richter, V. Petrovic, D. Vanoni, The 2012 Petra Cyber-Archaeology Cultural Conservation Expedition: Temple of the Winged Lions and Environs, Jordan, Antiquity, 2013.

UC Catalyst Personnel:

  • Thomas E. Levy, Distinguished Professor, Anthropology and Judaic Studies, Director, CCAS; Director, ELRAP; PI, UC Catalyst, all at UC San Diego