Stephen Humphreys, BA, MTh, MA, PhD, RPA
Stephen Humphreys was commissioned in the US Air Force following his completion of a BA in History at the University of North Texas. He served as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer, deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Following an assignment as Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies at Texas A&M University, he separated in order to attend a seminary program with the intent of returning to military service as a chaplain. A trip to a dig at Tel Gezer, Israel convinced him to become an archaeologist instead.
Stephen holds a Ph.D. in archaeology from Durham University as well as an MA in Archaeology and Biblical Studies and an MA in Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His academic areas of interest are charity in the Early Christian era, and health and wellness in antiquity. His doctoral thesis was on the development of ‘Holy Water’ in the Christian church between the 4th and 7th centuries (spoiler: it was for demon-killin’). He is a National Geographic Explorer and a dedicated field archaeologist with dig experience in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Sicily, and the USA.
Mackenze Burkhart, BA, RA
Mackenze Burkhart has a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and completed her field school in bioarchaeology in Tuscany, Italy, through the Ohio State University and the University of Pisa. Her time studying bioarchaeology instilled in her an interest in the evolution of public health and communities and led her to seek a career in small-scale agriculture. Having spent five years as a farmer and food-access advocate before returning to the field of archaeology, Mackenze brings administrative experience in the non-profit sector, a strong background in manual labor management, and a passion for exceptional project execution.
In support of her position as Operations Manager, Mackenze has completed several certificates, including Working with Veterans and Their Families, Advanced Metal Detection, and the DPAA Academy Partner Orientation. She has a current Mental Health First Aid certification and is a Wilderness First Responder. As of July 2023, she has assisted in executing eleven AVAR projects, five of which were international.
Alexis Duggan, BA, MS, CRC, LPC
Mental Health Clinician
Alexis Duggan has a BA in Special Education from the University of North Florida and an M.S. in Counselor Education from Florida International University. Her love for individuals with disabilities started as a Special Education teacher where she served students with varying disabilities for five years. In 2019 she transitioned into Vocational Rehabilitation where she worked to assist adults and adolescents with disabilities gain independent living resources, reach their career aspirations, and increase their overall mental health. As a current Licensed Professional Counselor Alexis has gained a new love for veterans and archaeology and has completed digs in Sicily, Israel, and San Antonio, Texas.
Alexis’s areas of expertise within mental health are disability, societal barriers in light of a disability, self-advocacy, mindfulness, and educational concerns. Alexis previously worked as the Student Disability Services Director at Texas A&M University Commerce, where she is also working on her doctoral degree in higher education. As a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Alexis looks forward to collaborating with you!
Jeremy Scroggins, BA, MS
Jeremy Scroggins served as a non-commissioned officer in the US Air Force. He served as an Arabic linguist, analyst, and command program manager. Jeremy graduated with a BA from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English and a certificate in Creative Writing with honors in both the College of Liberal Arts and Creative Writing. He then earned a Master of Science in Resource Communication from Stephen F. Austin State University, where he now teaches as an Adjunct Professor.
After his military term of service, Jeremy hiked 2,186 miles on the historic Appalachian Trail. That six-month experience spurred a passion in him to help others connect with their own stories, especially those rooted in adventure and place. Jeremy worked as a backpacking guide at UT Austin, a park ranger for the Bureau of Land Management, and as the Veterans Services Program Coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He joined AVAR’s team in early 2022 to explore archaeology and is now thrilled to be connecting others to the AVAR community and experience.
Casey Saunders, BA, MSOT
Casey Saunders served as a non-commissioned officer in the US Marine Corps. He served as an Assaultman Infantrymen, deploying twice in support of AfriCom and as a Battle Skills Training School Instructor. Casey graduated with a BHS in Health Science with a concentration in Public Health and a MSOT Master of Science in Occupational Therapy through Sacred Heart University. Additionally, he worked with AVAR in 2020 as an Occupational Therapy Student providing seminars and information on ergonomics and mental health to veterans going on dig sites. He is extremely excited to once again be given the opportunity to work with AVAR and fellow veterans.
Kyle O’Connor, BA, MBA, MS
Crew Support Supervisor
Kyle A. O’Connor was a non-commissioned officer in the US Army. He served as a tanker and as an MP gunner while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and later as a human resources sergeant. Kyle graduated with a BA from St. Cloud State University, double majoring in Anthropology and Political Science with an emphasis in Archaeology. Additionally, he completed his field school in archaeology through St. Cloud State University in 2006.
While in the military, Kyle completed an MBA in Human Resources Management to coincide with his HR sergeant role. After being medically retired in 2016, he obtained a second Master’s degree in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Wellness Coaching. Post-military, Kyle has engaged with the veteran community by serving as a board member for a veteran homelessness prevention nonprofit and is involved with his local VSO chapters. Through AVAR, Kyle has combined his passions for archeology and serving the veteran community. His recent dig experience consists of sites in New York, Texas, and Italy.
Technical Advisory Committee
American Veterans Archaeological Recovery is uniquely capable of carrying out world-class fieldwork projects that benefit our veterans due to the expertise of our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). Composed of field-leading specialists in battlefield (conflict) archaeology and excavation, public outreach, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and field safety, these individuals provide the training and guidance that allow AVAR to balance the needs of a range of archaeological missions with the wellness and development needs of our veterans.