Michael Decker (Director)

Dr. Michael Decker is Maroulis Professor of Byzantine History and Orthodox Religion at the University of South Florida and Chair of the Department of History. He earned his DPhil from the Faculty of Modern History at Oxford University. Dr. Decker arrived at USF in 2004 following Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Rice University. He is the recipient of an Overseas Research Student Award at Oxford and a Fulbright Multi-Country Research Award while at USF. His interest in digital scholarship extends to his days at Oxford University when he helped to digitize and create an online database of the archives of prominent Ukranian-French archaeologist Georges Tchalenko. At Rice University he worked in the Computer and Information Technology Institute to establish a repository of georeferenced texts of 17th-19th century travelers to the Middle East. His scholarly production includes monographs with Oxford University Press and the award-winning The Byzantine Art of War.

Dr. Decker’s research interests include the medieval Mediterranean and Anatolia, specifically the social, environmental, and economic history as well as the material culture of the East Roman Empire. His current research includes work on landscape and culture of the East Roman Empire during the seventh-ninth centuries C.E., the Medieval Coinage and Economy Project Database, and is editor of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Byzantine Archaeology. His past fieldwork includes field survey and excavation in Syria and Jordan. He currently works with Dr. Tanasi on the Realmonte Roman villa excavation in Sicily, as well as CVAST projects in Sicily and La Mancha, Spain.

Kelsey Wilkinson (MPA, Office Manager)

Kelsey Wilkinson moved to Tampa from Fort Myers, Florida where she worked as a Program Assistant at Florida Gulf Coast University. As Office Manager, her responsibilities encompass many aspects including budget review, grant management, purchasing, and travel coordination. Her incredible organization skills help keep CVAST operations running smoothly. Kelsey holds a Masters of Public Administration as well as a BA in Communication. Prior to joining the CVAST team, Kelsey spent over 10 years working various positions in customer service, program planning, event coordination, and office management. She shares our common vision for innovation and excellence and has been a great addition to our team.

Dr. Jen Bright (Assistant Professor, Geosciences)

Jen Bright has a PhD in biomechanics from the University of Bristol, and an MGeol in Geological Sciences from the University of Leeds. Jen specialises in functional morphology, using a combination of geometric morphometrics and finite element modelling to investigate the relationship between the shape of animals’ skeletons and their mechanical performance. In particular, Jen is interested in how this relationship interacts with macroevolutionary and developmental processes, and how it changes through time. Most of Jen’s work has focused on the beaks and skulls of extant birds, a key component of which is the crowdsourcing morphometrics website, This site is part of a European Research Council project at the University of Sheffield, UK, to investigate how beak shape evolved across the entire avian radiation. It ultimately aims to host a 3D surface scan of the beak of every bird species alive today, and also encourages the public to get involved with primary research by interacting with the scans and contributing vital landmark data to the project.

Another central aspect of Jen’s research is determining the validity of biomechanical finite element models. By building skeletal models from regular and contrast enhanced CT scans and comparing these to ex vivo bone strain experiments, Jen has demonstrated both the potential and the limitations of finite element methods of animals known only from their fossil record. This allows greater confidence in our ability to understand the ecological role and behavior of extinct species, and permits detailed questions about the nature of faunal changes through time.

A full list of Jen's publications is available here.

Dr. Davide Tanasi (Assistant Professor, History)

Dr. Davide Tanasi is an archaeologist specialized in Mediterranean prehistory and archaeology of Greek and Roman Sicily and Malta. After an initial academic training in Classical Studies, in 2007 he received his PhD in Classical Archaeology from the University of Torino, Italy. In the past decade he has embraced the study of computer graphics applied to archaeology with special interest in 3D Digital Imaging and digital communication of cultural heritage. In 2006 he co-founded the research program of computer graphics applied to archaeology Archeomatica Project at the University of Catania’s Image Processing Laboratory of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and since then he serves as co-Scientific Director. Between 2012 and 2015 he directed the Laboratory of Virtual Archaeology at the Arcadia University Sicily Center of Siracusa (Italy). He is currently Affiliate Assistant Professor at the Department of Classics of University of Washington, Fellow of the College of Global Studies of Arcadia University and founding partner and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Sicily Center for International Education of Siracusa, Sicily (SCIE), an Italian third-party study abroad provider for American universities. Since 2014 he is Section Editor for Archaeological Science for the international scientific journal Open Archaeology (Walter De Gruyter publisher) and he is also founding co-editor of the book series The Heritage of Western Greece (Parnassos Press). He has consistently published in high-impact peer-reviewed journals and worked with international publishers as editor/author for miscellaneous monographs. He also co-produced, as scriptwriter, scientific consultant and assistant director, documentaries in 3D computer animation, among which the multi-awarded movies about Greek Siracusa (Siracusa 3D Reborn) and Roman Pompeii (Pompei 3D. A Buried Story).

Full list of publications can be found here.

Dr. Ryan Carney (Assistant Professor, Integrative Biology)


From Archaeopteryx to Zika, Dr. Ryan Carney’s multidisciplinary work primarily focuses on feathered dinosaurs and fighting diseases. This involves harnessing innovative technologies to 1) bring dinosaurs “back to life” by scientifically reconstructing skeletons, motion, and even original coloration, and 2), to predict epidemics of mosquito-borne viruses. Ryan also brings a diverse background and over a decade of leadership experience as Principal Investigator for various research projects around the world. By the time Ryan finished graduate school in 2016, his research had been cited over 500 times, published in Nature, and featured in The New York Times and popular science books. As a National Geographic Explorer, Ryan also enjoys sharing his fascination of the natural world through science outreach, including contributing to and consulting for museum exhibits, educational content, and television programs.

Ryan graduated with Honors from UC Berkeley, with bachelor’s degrees in Integrative Biology and Art Practice. He then went on to lead a statewide disease surveillance program in California, intern at Google, and front a punk band on Warped Tour. Ryan also attended Yale University, where he received a Master of Public Health in epidemiology and an MBA in technology. There he was awarded the Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Thesis, for his work on a geospatial early warning system for dengue virus in Brazil. This disease modeling research built upon his prior work as Principal Investigator on an early warning system for West Nile virus. The latter results were so successful that CDC scientist Dr. Nicholas Komar called it “the best effort I’ve ever seen in predicting arboviral disease.” Currently, Ryan is leading this same research team to develop the predictive model into a free, open-source software solution to fight the spread of Zika virus in Florida, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and beyond (see DYCAST).

Ryan also received a PhD and MS in evolutionary biology from Brown University. His dissertation and current research focuses on the evolution of flying dinosaurs, with an emphasis on the iconic “missing link,” Archaeopteryx. This work integrates digital and experimental approaches, including X-ray imaging and computer animation of exceptional fossils and living animals. Ryan has also developed a novel joint surface approach for comparative analysis of skeletal evolution and motion. Ultimately, his research in “evolutionary biomechanics” aims to reveal the structural and functional changes that occurred during major locomotor transformations – how exactly did the walking dinosaur forelimb evolve into the modern bird wing? Many of these results and technologies will be integrated into his spring 2017 course, “Digital Dinosaurs.” Future work will explore the use of next-generation 3D platforms (virtual reality, interactive holograms) for research and teaching. Ryan also uses cutting-edge imaging and molecular techniques to reconstruct the original colors of fossilized feathers and skin. This work reveals not only what ancient creatures once looked like, it also provides insights into their evolutionary history and behavior.

Dr. William M. Murray (CVAST Affiliate Professor)

William M. Murray is the Mary and Gus Stathis Professor of Greek History at the University of South Florida. He was the 2014 Leo A. Shifrin Professor of Naval History at the United States Naval Academy, a Distinguished Professor in the Onassis Foundation’s (USA) University Seminar Program (2007, 2012), the 1997 Maurice Hatter Visiting Professor at the University of Haifa, and the 1995-96 Elizabeth Whitehead Professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Prof. Murray’s scholarly interests embrace all aspects of ancient seafaring, from ships and their designs, to trade and ancient harbors, to naval warfare and weaponry. He has published widely on these topics and has worked on archaeological projects in Greece, Israel, Turkey and Italy over the course of the past 35 years. His recent monograph, The Age of Titans: The Rise and Fall of the Great Hellenistic Navies (Oxford, 2012), examines the “big ship” navies that were a feature of Hellenistic naval power. He is currently a research associate with the Sicilian Egadi Island Survey Project, recovering ancient warship rams and other battle debris from the last naval battle of the First Punic War (241 BCE). Prof. Murray is working with others to apply 3D scanning and modeling techniques to these rams and to others to help visualize ancient naval warfare in new ways and thereby further our understanding of ancient warship performance. He is currently developing a website at CVAST called RAM-3D to foster new developments in the field of naval research, particularly in warship design and simulation modeling of ramming attacks.

Dr. Elisa Bonacini (Affiliated Faculty)


Elisa Bonacini is an Archaeologist, she has a first BA in Classics (2001) and a second one in Enhancement of Archaeological Heritage (2010); specialized in Classical Archaeology (2005), she has a PhD in Humanities and Cultural Heritage (2014) and was a Research Fellow (2015-2017) in the Humanities Department of Catania University.

Elisa is an expert in cultural communication with ICT and social media, she is a UE external expert evaluator for Europeana related projects and worked as multimedia consultant for UE PO-FESR projects (archaeological areas of Castello Eurialo in Syracuse and Santa Venera al Pozzo, near Catania). She also developed three pilot projects (at the Archaeological Museum "Paolo Orsi" in Syracuse, of the Etna Park and of the Temple of Juno in the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento), that have "increased" a traditional virtual tour in a street level mode, just as those offered by Google Street View technologies.

She is the ideologist and the regional coordinator for Sicily of the national project #DigitalInvasions (#InvasioniDigitali) and the Regional coordinator for National Association of Small Museums (APM). She is the scientific coordinator on a regional scale for creating participatory multimedia audioguides for museums and tours on the platform izi.TRAVEL thanks to a protocol with the Department of Culture and Sicilian Identity.

She participated in many national and international conferences and published some books, four of them referring to museums and ICT.

A full list of Elisa’s publications can be found here.

Dr. Victor Manuel Lopez-Menchero Bendicho (Research Associate)

Dr. Victor Lopez-Menchero Bendicho has a degree in History and a European PhD in Archaeology. His research in recent years has focused on the integrated management of archaeological heritage. In the last ten years he has participated as speaker in more than sixty national and international conferences, seminars, workshops and courses. He has been academic secretary of various conferences and workshops, including the seven editions of the International Congress of Graphic Archaeology and Informatics, Cultural Heritage and Innovation (ARQUEOLOGICA 2.0). Victor is co-editor of the Spanish version of the London Charter and coordinator of the Seville Principles (International Principles of Virtual Archaeology). Until 2015 he has been co-director of the international scientific journal Virtual Archaeology Review   (VAR).

Dr. Lopez-Menchero Bendicho is the author of more than thirty scientific publications and has worked on numerous research projects. Highlights include his continued participation in the projects of Sus-Tekna (Morocco), the Network of Excellence “Virtual Museum Transnational Network” (funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme, FP7-ICT-2009-6) and the “Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage: Projecting our Past to the Future” (funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme, FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN).

He is currently vice president of the Spanish Society of Virtual Archaeology (SEAV), collaborator of the Laboratory of Archaeology, Heritage and Emerging Technologies (LAPTE) of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, co-director of excavations at the archaeological site of Piédrola (Alcázar de San Juan) and member of Center for Studies of Virtual Archaeology at the University of Murcia.

Dr. Laura Harrison (Postdoctoral Research Associate)

Dr. Laura Harrison has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University at Buffalo, as well as an M.A. in Anthropology from the University at Buffalo, and a B.A. in Anthropology and Art History from Ithaca College.

Laura brings an interdisciplinary perspective to CVAST, and she is an advocate of open access and digitization in the sciences and humanities. Currently, she is the director of a 3D visualization project at the archaeological site of Seyitömer Höyük, in Turkey, where her research focuses on virtualization as a heritage management strategy. Laura also has over eight years of museum experience, and is interested in digitization as it pertains to collection management, public outreach and education, and exhibition design. In addition, Laura founded the interdisciplinary journal Chronika in 2010, which publishes peer-reviewed articles about European and Mediterranean archaeology, in an open access format.

Laura has excavated in Greece, Turkey, and the northeast U.S.A. Her NSF-funded Ph.D. research investigates urbanism as a social process at Seyitömer Höyük, in Turkey. Methodologically, she focuses on digitally simulating patterns of movement and interaction in urban built environments, and integrating these observations with insights about behavior, cognition, and perception drawn from environmental psychology. Laura’s forthcoming research places these findings into a temporal framework based on the Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates, which reveals the timing and tempo of socio-political changes associated with urbanization.

A full list of Laura’s publications can be found here.

Steven Fernandez (MA, Research Assistant Professor)

Steven Fernandez is a Research Assistant Professor in CVAST. He has his Masters of Arts in Geography with a specialization in Geographic Information Systems. He is a Certified GIS Professional, a Certified Cadastral Mapper, and brings a high level of expertise in GIS and spatial analysis. His areas of research and project management include applications with airborne and terrestrial LiDAR, digital terrain modeling, feature extraction, 3D feature modeling, urban planning, site selection analysis, property assessment and land use mapping, historical map georeferencing, GPS data acquisition and processing, and digital cartographic techniques.

Kamila Oleś (MA, Research Associate)

Kamila Oleś holds a diploma in Archaeology (MA, 2011), and in History of Art (MA, 2013) both from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. Currently she is completing a bi-nationally supervised PhD thesis according to a joint agreement between Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Her main research areas include early medieval architecture in Central Europe as well as the methodology and techniques of architectural research and documentation. Additionally, she is interested in the fusion of art and archaeology. Kamila has been awarded international grants and has led several research projects in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Germany. She has awards for he achievements from the Kulczyk Family Fund and Visegrad Fund.

Dr. Łukasz Banaszek (Postdoctoral Research Associate)

Dr. Łukasz Banaszek holds a MA in Archaeology (2008) and a PhD in Archaeology (2015) both from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. He studies landscapes, their dynamics and temporality. His research interests include modelling of the landscape and being-in-the-world. Łukasz specializes in application of GIS and Airborne Laser Scanning in landscape interpretation. He is also interested in aerial photography, spaceborne remote sensing techniques, and integration of various prospection methods. Additionally, he investigates the relation between archaeological methods and theories, processes of knowledge construction, and history of archaeological thought. He is the author of 1 monograph, 1 co-edited volume as well as several papers and chapters. He has enjoyed fieldwork in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Republic of the Sudan. He has led or been involved in numerous research projects funded by the European Space Agency, Polish National Science Centre, and the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. He is a big fan of open source software, data sharing, and democratization of science.

Myriam van Walsum (MA, Research Scientist)

Myriam van Walsum earned her BA degree in Archaeology at Leiden University (The Netherlands) and a MSc degree in Palaeoanthropology at University College London (UK). Her work at CVAST consists of close range laser scanning of cultural heritage and natural history objects and sites, and subsequent post-processing, segmentation, texturing and rendering. Her specialties include human evolution, osteology and microCT scan processing.

Vincent Meijer (MA, Solutions Architect & Software Developer)

Vincent Meijer is a software developer with a background in archaeology. For his MA Comparative Art & Archaeology at University College London he researched the distribution of Polynesian rock art through space and time. His main focus at CVAST is creating an IT infrastructure for documenting and publishing data collected by CVAST. He is particularly interested in containerized, scalable software architecture, as well as in backend programming.

Rebekah McLaughlin (Research Associate)

Rebekah is an undergraduate student researcher at CVAST. She graduates from the University of South Florida in the summer of 2017 with her Bachelor of the Arts degrees in both History and Anthropology. She has varied interests, and has pursued them through taking classes ranging from Latin, Forensic Anthropology, and Human Osteology to Celtic and Irish Histories. Rebekah is fascinated by physical and biological anthropology in a historical context, and she works on a variety of projects within CVAST utilizing different three-dimensional computer programs.

Michelle Assaad (Research Associate)

Michelle Assaad is a student researcher at CVAST. She graduated from the University of South Florida with Bachelor degrees in International Affairs and Anthropology with concentrations in Middle East and North African Culture and Politics. Her research is focused on Cultural Heritage as a Human Right. She volunteers as a tutor for female Middle Eastern refugees. She has participated in numerous projects with CVAST and is excited to participate in many more.

Kaitlyn Kingsland (Research Associate)

Kaitlyn Kingsland graduates from the University of South Florida in the Spring of 2017 with a Bachelor's degree in anthropology with honors and a minor in sociology. Kaitlyn is interested in archaeology and the application of 3D technology to this field. She works on various projects at CVAST that use 3D methods techniques for displaying and analyzing data.


Christine Bergmann (Student Researcher)

Christine Bergmann is in her final year of the Applied Anthropology MA program at USF. She specializes in archaeological chemistry with an emphasis on the elemental analysis of human and animal bones. Specifically, Christine utilizes portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) to assess subsistence practices of prehistoric Peruvians. She has received funding to perform her research from the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC), the USF Anthropology Department, and Cotsen Endowments, UCLA. Additionally, Christine worked at CVAST 3D laser scanning and processing paleontological and archaeological specimens, cultural heritage materials, and more.

Jack Geier (Student Researcher)

Jack hold a Bachelor’s degree with a major in history. He is currently working in an engineering firm as a CAD specialist. In his free time Jack utilizes his interest in architecture to reconstruct historical buildings that are no longer standing. Jack is also an avid naturalist and is interested about bio mimicry in architecture.