I received my first degree (BSc in Behavioral Sciences with an emphasis in Anthropological Archaeology, Summa Cum Laude) in 2007 from Andrews University in Michigan, USA. In 2009 I graduated from a Masters programme (MA Archaeology-Roman, with distinction) at Durham University, and have stayed in Durham for my PhD, which is currently nearing its end. My thesis is a chorography/archaeology of place of the Roman Antonine Wall in Scotland.
When you graduated were you looking for a career in archaeology?
Yes! Archaeology is actually a second career for me, as I previously spent seven years in the technology consulting industry. I had always regretted not finishing a university degree after secondary school and after a family holiday to Colonial Michilimackinac (http://www.mackinacparks.com/colonial-michilimackinac/), where they have ongoing publicly-accessible archaeological excavations, my lifelong obsession with the past was reignited. A few weeks later I had applied for undergraduate programmes and was drafting my work resignation letter. I had a small family of my own at this time, so it was all or nothing: I left the old career behind and was full-steam-ahead for a new career/vocation in archaeology.
How has a degree in archaeology benefited your career?
Since beginning my archaeological journey, I've been a constant student (except for a few months between undergrad and my MA), so my archaeological career experience is entirely academia-based. I haven't had the privilege of working for a commercial or government archaeology unit, but I've had the chance to carry out extensive fieldwork through academic projects in Jordan (Tall Hisban and Tall Jalul, with the Madaba Plains Project) and Britain (Durham-Stanford Roman Binchester Project), covering periods from the late Bronze Age to early modern era. The field experiences, academic conferences, teaching, and required research for my degrees have all provided amazing opportunities to benefit my career. I've had the opportunity to publish, to meet major players from academia and the government heritage sector, and to learn from my fellow students, including those that I've helped to teach. My primary goal is to continue in academic archaeology as a full-time lecturer or professor, combining teaching with engaging field-based research; so my degrees have been essential, but the less-tangible experiental aspect that goes along with attaining the degree are probably the most important.
What has been the greatest success in your career so far?
I've been privileged with a lot of hard-won success, so it's difficult at this stage to say which has been the "greatest." I would have to count supervising excavations on Tall Hisban's acropolis summit a major success, as well as the organisation of a major workshop on chorography and archaeology (featuring papers by myself, Dr. David Petts, and Professors Michael Shanks, Richard Hingley and Christopher Witmore) to be held in Durham this July. One other area that I am particularly proud of is my work with the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC): I currently serve on the TRAC Standing Committee, helping to support individual conference organisers each year, was one of the primary organisers of the 2011 conference in Newcastle, and served as co-editor of the TRAC 2011 Proceedings volume (Oxbow Books, 2012), where I also published a paper. It has been a privilege and honour to be entrusted with the job of helping to coordinate and steer an organisation that has been so influential in Roman archaeology over the past 20+ years.