Meet Our Team

The staff of the Shikhin Excavation Project are an eclectic bunch. In many ways, the Project feels like family. Meet our team below.

James Riley Strange


James is Charles Jackson Granade and Elizabeth Donald Granade Professor in New Testament in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Samford University.

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Motti Aviam

Associate Director

Motti is Professor in the Department of Land of Israel Studies, Kinneret Academic College and Director, Kinneret Institute of Galilean Archaeology


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Tom McCollough

Associate Director

Tom is Nelson and Mary McDowell Rodes Professor of Religion Emeritus at Centre College and Professor of Religion (Adjunct) in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Coastal Carolina University

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Randall O’Neill

Field Supervisor

Randy has an undergraduate degree in archaeology from City University of New York and a masters degree in ancient history from New York University.  He is pursuing a masters degree in Secondary Education at Northeastern Illinois University.  He looks forward to teaching high school history and sharing the work being done at Shikhin with his students.

Carolyn Strange

Mater Castrorum

Carolyn has served as a volunteer, Artifact Registrar, and Camp Manager for digs beginning with the Meiron Excavation Project in the 1970s. At the SEP, she is in charge of just about everything, from second breakfast to Friday night kiddish.

Virginia Skeeter

Assistant Camp Manager

Virginia first dug with the USF Excavations at Sepphoris in the 1990s and has been with the SEP for many years.

Kay Clements

Artifact Registrar

A 1963 graduate of Howard College (now Samford University), Kay taught high school German in Birmingham, Alabama (USA) for many years. She joined the SEP in 2012.

Claire Oldfather

Assistant Artifact Registrar

Claire is an archaeologist-cum-archivist who first attended the dig in 2012. She has degrees in Classics, Folklore and Mythology, Medieval Welsh Literature, and Archive Administration. She is now pursuing a Masters in Library Science degree. Her goals: to continue to work in libraries and museums and with projects like the SEP, to improve and expand access to research. Oh, and to organize the world.

Joan Keller

Glass Historian and Registrar

Trained as a speech therapist, Joan began digging with the Meiron Excavation Project of Upper Galilee in the 1970s. She completed her masters in religious studies at the University of South Florida and began working with the USF Excavations at Sepphoris in the 1980s.

Brian Gregory


Brian is Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Samford University.


Betsy Dobbins


Betsy is Director of the STEM Scholars Program and Professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Samford University.


Walt Harper

Area Supervisor

Walt is a Professor of Bible and Ministry and Director of the Youth and Family Ministry program at Central Christian College of the Bible. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at Faulkner University. He joined the Shikhin Excavation Project in 2018. 


Toby Klein

Area Supervisor

Toby is a graphic artist who began digging with the SEP in 2015. A local Galilean, she helps with many other organizational tasks. 

Don Polaski

Area Supervisor

Don Polaski is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Randolph-Macon College. He has served as an area supervisor since 2017.


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Pamela Reaves

Area Supervisor

Pam is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Colorado College. She has dug with the USF Excavations at Sepphoris and has been with the SEP since 2016. 


Teryn Gilbertson

Area Supervisor

Teryn is Adjunct Instructor in Humanities and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Religious Studies at the University of South Florida. She has conducted anthropological research in Peru and joined the SEP in 2016. 


Jen Elam


Jen works as a professional archaeologist in the United States as principal investigator of Commonwealth Heritage Group’s North Carolina office. She has worked in cultural resource management since 1999 in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast United States.

Steven Meigs


Steven is working toward a PhD in Philosophy from the University of South Florida. He teaches Religious Studies courses at Pasco-Hernando State College. He has been an archaeological and artifact photographer at both Sepphoris and Shikhin.

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