Our Team

Debora Heard

Debora Heard is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology (Nubian Archaeology), at the University of Chicago. Her research is situated at the intersection of archaeology, anthropology, Nubiology, Egyptology, and African Studies.  She investigates Nubian-Kushite history, religion, politics, and royal women using iconography, archaeology, and texts.

Dr. Yonatan Binyam

Dr. Binyam is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies Department at Pennsylvania State University. His primary research interests lie in the reception of ancient Greek and Latin literature within medieval Ethiopic texts. He is also interested in the study of the history of race and Christianity.

Annissa Malvoisin

Annissa Malvoisin is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto in the department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and specializes in Egyptology, Nubian studies, and Museum studies. Her doctoral thesis research specifically investigates the ceramic production and trade industry during Meroitic Nubia and its potential far-reaching networks linking Nubia and Egypt to Iron Age Western African cultures.

Dr. Solange Ashby

Dr. Ashby is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Barnard College. She received her Ph.D. in Egyptology with a specialization in ancient Egyptian language and Nubian religion from the University of Chicago. Her first book, Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence at Philae, was published by Gorgias Press in 2020. Her current research explores the roles of women in traditional Nubian religious practices and the history, religious symbolism, and political power of the queens of Kush.

Jasmine Smith

Jasmine Smith is currently the Assistant Research Scholar for Digital Initiatives at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World Library, NYU. She received her M.S. from the University of Michigan School of Information where she studied library/archives assessment and digital curation. Her research interests include the study of ancient Egyptian tomb painting, archaeological data curation and preservation, and collections management within museums.

Dr. Mohamed Ali

Dr. Ali is a co-director at the Tombos project in Sudan, a joint mission between UCSB and Purdue University, and a co-founder and the president of the American Sudanese Archaeological Research Center “AmSARC”. He obtained an MA in anthropology and a PhD in archaeology from University of California Santa Barbara, United States. His research and teaching focus on collapse and regeneration of complex societies and ancient iron working in sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the International University of Africa, Sudan.

Dr. Helina Woldekiros

Dr. Woldekiros is an assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Woldekiros’s research interest includes state formation, the origin of food production, agriculture, pastoralism, salt trade, caravan archaeology, livestock biodiversity, and northeast Africa. 

Photo by: Susan Urmy

Dr. Justin Dunnavant

Dr. Dunnavant is an Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University’s Spatial Analysis Research Laboratory and will be joining UCLA’s Anthropology Department as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2021. His current research in the US Virgin Islands investigates the relationship between ecology and enslavement in the former Danish West Indies. In addition to his archaeological research, Justin is co-founder and President of the Society of Black Archaeologists, an AAUS Scientific SCUBA Diver, and consults for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Shayla Monroe

Shayla Monroe is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She specializes in faunal analysis, the social zooarchaeology of Sudan and Egypt, the archaeology of ethnicity the ancient Nile Valley, and African pastoralism. Her dissertation analyzes the acquisition of cattle at the ancient Egyptian colonial fortress of Askut (c. 2600 – 1550 BC) and its implications for culture contact and asymmetrical power relations between pastoralists and non-pastoralists. Monroe earned her M.A. in Anthropology from UCSB in 2014.

Sewasew Haileselassie Assefa

Sewasew Haileselassie Assefa is a bioarchaeologist/biocultural anthropologist and Ph.D. student at Washington University in St. Louis. She is interested in understanding the effects of sociopolitical and economic factors on health and its interlinkage with various dietary adaptations employed to combat social and environmental stress during the medieval period. Currently, she researches Ethiopian populations using osteological and isotopic methods and contextualizes sociopolitical and economic factors through the rich textual and historical sources available.

Dr. Salim Faraji

Dr. Faraji is Professor and former Chair of Africana Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is also the founding Executive Director of the Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) Africa Program at Concordia University Irvine in Ghana, West Africa. He specializes in early Christian history, Africana and Africanist historiography, Coptic Studies and the Kerma, Meroitic and Medieval periods of Nubian history. Dr. Faraji is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of African Religion, the Oxford Dictionary of African Biography and the author of The Roots of Nubian Christianity Uncovered: The Triumph of the Last Pharaoh.

Dr. Josef Ben Levi

Dr. Levi, Ed.D is a scholar of ancient and continental Philosophy, classical African civilizations, and African-American Studies, Education, Sociology, Curriculum and Disability Studies. He is also a scholar of ancient Biblical, Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Gnostic literature. He currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Sociology, African and African American Studies and Philosophy at Northeastern Illinois University.

Dr. Mario Beatty

Dr. Beatty, Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies, received his Ph.D. in African-American Studies at Temple University. He currently serves as President of The Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). His research interests include the Ancient Egyptian language, history, wisdom literature, astronomy in Ancient Egyptian religious texts, comparative analyses of African cultures, the image and use of ancient Africa in the African-American historical imagination, the theory and practice of African-American Studies, and Pan-Africanism.

Iman Jamal Nagy

Iman Jamal Nagy is a graduate student in Archaeology/Northeast African studies. She focuses on reintegrating indigenous knowledge systems and perspectives into mainstream heritage studies, bridging cultural connections from Egypt to the Horn of Africa. 

Jenail Marshall

Jenail Marshall is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at Purdue University. She specializes in bioarchaeology and environmental microbiology. She investigates human-bacteria coevolution and the relationship between bone infection and exposure to tetracyclines from dietary sources in the ancient Nile Valley. Her current research focuses on the relationship between archaeology and local communities in the Nubian region of northern Sudan.

Sydney Pickens

Sydney A. Pickens is a dancer, archaeologist, and educator who is passionate about making archaeology accessible and exciting through embodied learning. She is an Archaeology Educator for Archaeology in the Community, and specializes in K-12 archaeology educational programming.

Yvonne R. Jones

Yvonne R. Jones is a member and director of the Kemetic Institute of Chicago. She is also affiliated with the Temple of the African Community of Chicago, and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). Her interests include visiting museums and libraries with collections/exhibits representing the history and culture of people of African descent and visiting their sacred spaces, including Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago; Massies Creek Cemetery,  Cedarville, Ohio; the Valley of Kings, Queens, and Nobles, West Bank of the Nile River; Kemetic temples; and other spaces of spiritual significance to the history of African people.

Rosetta Cash

Rosetta Cash is an artist, educator, and a scholar of classical African civilizations, African- American studies, communications, and educational media design and technology. She has worked in the following areas of artistic expression: clothing design, interior design, graphic arts, poetry, songwriter, singer, writer, editor, computer technology, and more recently ventured into videography and filmmaking. Her research interests include: ancient Kemet(Egypt), archaeology, examination of the role of ancient Egypt and African people in film, African and African American art, the study of the ancient African language of Medew Netcher and the Nubian language Nobiin.