Teaching Faculty and Staff
Jenkins is a Senior Staff Archaeologist for the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon, Eugene. He received his B.A. (1977) and M.A. (1981) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he worked with Claude N. Warren and Margaret M. Lyneis. His early research focused on the Virgin Branch of the Anasazi and Lake Mohave-Pinto sites in the Mojave Desert. He received his Ph.D. (1991) from the University of Oregon where C. Melvin Aikens served as his Committee Chair. He has worked for the Museum at the UO, where he serves as a research archaeologist assigned to Oregon Department of Transportation archaeological projects in the Northern Great Basin, Columbia Plateau, and Klamath Basin, since 1987. He has been teaching, supervising, and directing the Northern Great Basin archaeological field school since 1989. In that capacity he has overseen the education of more than 500 field school students in the methods and theory of archaeological field investigations.
His stint as a project field director at Fort Irwin, California provided him a unique set of interpersonal and interagency experiences that developed in him an exceptional ability to find common ground with diverse groups and individuals alike. This talent, based on honesty and proven trustworthiness, has served him well through more than 20 years of program construction, personnel handling, and interagency consultations involving working closely and successfully in sensitive negotiations with Native American tribes in Oregon.
Jenkins’ primary research interests are the Paleoamerican colonization of the Americas, ancient human DNA, Great Basin hunting and gathering societies, obsidian sourcing and hydration analysis, and settlement-subsistence patterns in arid lands of the American West. He has conducted archaeological research at >100 sites in Nevada, California, Arizona, and Oregon. His research spans the late Pleistocene (12,400 radiocarbon years ago) through the entire Holocene period including excavations in a Chinese shanty town at Jackson, Oregon, mapping of the town site of Jefferson in Nevada, and excavation of a historic wickiup (ca. 1854) at Boulder Village in the Fort Rock Basin.
Jenkins has authored and co-authored 8 books, 44 chapters, journal articles, reviews, and published papers, 33 major professional reports, and given 62 professional papers and symposia at conferences. His doctoral thesis, Site Structure and Chronology of 37 Lake Mojave and Pinto Assemblages from Two Large Multicomponent Sites in the Central Mojave Desert, Southern California, was the culmination of four years of research focus on the late Pleistocene and early Holocene archaeology of the Mojave Desert as the Field Director of the Fort Irwin Archaeological Project near Barstow, California. Through the UO field school he has conducted new excavations at the famous Connley Caves and Paisley 5 Mile Point Caves sites, recovering the oldest directly dated human remains—12,400 RCYBP mitochondrial DNA in human coprolites—in the Americas from the Paisley Caves (Gilbert et al. 2008; Jenkins 2007; Jenkins et al. 2012, 2013).
Jenkins has filmed multiple short documentaries for public education. The first, Paisley Cave Dig, was an Oregon Field Guide segment produced for Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) of Portland, Oregon. This 10 minute program showed UO field school investigations at the Paisley Caves in the Summer Lake Basin of central Oregon, ending with a brief synopsis of preliminary findings as of the 2003 summer field session. Tracking Obsidian, filmed by OPB in 2004, was a segment explaining the search for the location of an as yet unlocated obsidian source near Silver Lake in the Fort Rock Basin just north of the Summer Lake Basin. The on-site interview, Finding Pre-Clovis Humans in the Oregon High Desert: An interview with Dennis Jenkins, is a 40 minute segment filmed at the Paisley Caves by The Archaeology Channel during the summer of 2007. It covers the topic of recovering human DNA from coprolites in the caves. It was released with the publication of an article in Science Magazine. Finally, Jenkins filmed the lead segment (about 7 minutes) for a two hour documentary entitled All About Dung produced by Icon Films (Bristol, United Kingdom) for the History Channel. This very entertaining investigation into the fascinating and funny topic of pooh was aired in June 2008. Finally, he filmed another 7 minute segment for "Ice Age Geology", shown on the History Channel in March, 2010. He currently has 2 more appearances scheduled to come out soon, one by OPB about Luther S. Cressman and the other about Eske Willerslev and the Paisley Caves by Danish TV.
Dr. Patrick O'Grady
O'Grady is a third-degree Duck, having earned his B.S. (1996), M.S. (1999), and Ph.D. (2006) from the University of Oregon. He has served on fifteen University of Oregon field schools since 1994, first as a student, then as an assistant, supervisor, and instructor. His primary research interests include hunter- gatherer subsistence practices, late Pleistocene/early Holocene cultural trends in the Great Basin of western North America, zooarchaeology, patterns of mobility, and remote sensing applications in archaeological contexts.
His Master's research "Human Occupation Patterns in the Uplands: An Analysis of Sourced Obsidian Projectile Points from Playa Villages in the Fort Rock Uplands, Lake County, Oregon" was an exploration of highland village settlement and mobility patterns in the uplands between the Fort Rock and Summer Lake basins in south-central Oregon. His Ph.D. research "Before Winter Comes: Archaeological Investigations of Settlement and Subsistence in Harney Valley, Harney County, Oregon" is an examination of mid to late Holocene multi-elevation land use patterns encompassing wetland to upland settings within a large, well-watered valley in the Great Basin. Master's and doctoral researches were conducted under the direction of Dr. C. Melvin Aikens.
O'Grady is a staff archaeologist at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. He was an archaeologist for the Oregon Department of Transportation from 2002-2005, and has also worked for the Burns District Bureau of Land Management, which was instrumental in funding his dissertation research during the 2000-2002 field seasons. Recent publications include "Zooarchaeological Analysis of Cultural Features from Four Early to Middle Holocene Sites in the Fort Rock Basin" in Early and Middle Holocene Archaeology in the Northern Great Basin, edited by Dennis L. Jenkins, Thomas J. Connolly, and C. Melvin Aikens (University of Oregon Anthropological Papers 62) and "Housepits in the Chewaucan Marsh: Investigations at the Gravelly Ford Bridge Site" by Brian L. O'Neill, Dennis L. Jenkins, Charles M. Hodges, Patrick O'Grady, and Thomas J. Connolly in Beads, Points, and Pit Houses: A Northern Great Basin Miscellany, edited by Brian L. O'Neill (University of Oregon Anthropological Papers 66). He taught the 2007 through 2012 field schools at the Sage Hen Gap, Sheep Mountain Clovis, and Rimrock Draw Rockshelter sites and looks forward to continuing challenges at Rimrock Draw Rockshelter in 2013.
Margaret Helzer, Ph.D.
Margaret Helzer has been conducting macrobotanical analysis for private archaeological firms, the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and the University of Oregon for over 10 years. She received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Oregon in 2001. Her dissertation was entitled, Paleoethnobotany and Household Archaeology at the Bergen Site: A Middle Holocene Occupation in the Fort Rock Basin, Oregon. Helzer taught the paleoethnobotany field class for the University of Oregon at Rimrock Draw Rockshelter in 2012. In addition to the paleoethnobotanical research, Helzer is a fulltime anthropology instructor at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon.
Michael F. Rondeau
Michael Rondeau (M.A., Anthropology, California State University Sacramento, 1979), was an archaeologist for the State of California for 25 years and has been sole proprietor for over 30 years of Rondeau Archeological, a consulting firm specializing in various forms of lithic analysis. Michael Rondeau is currently involved in a long term research project studying the variability in fluted projectile points of the Far West. He has done fieldwork in California, Nevada and Arizona. His lithic research has included California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. He has research interests in geoarchaeology, Paleoindian adaptations, the application of lithic technology to improving the accuracy of obsidian hydration band width analysis, the interpretative logic used to derive information from collected data as well as new approaches to lithic analysis that may elucidate the subsistence practices of hunter-gatherers. He is the author or co-author of more than 25 published articles and papers with several more currently in press.
Joe Collins received his B.A. in Anthropology and his M.S. in Geology from Mississippi State University. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in Geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. During his undergraduate and graduate training he attended two field schools: archaeological field methods at Poverty Pointe, Louisiana, and geoarchaeological field methods at Sheep Mountain Clovis Site, Oregon. His research focus has been on the migration and settlement patterns of prehistoric humans through stable and radiogenic isotopic techniques of sediments and freshwater mussels.
His Master's research "Assessing Mussel Shell Diagenesis in the Modern Vadose Zone at Lyon's Bluff (22OK520), northeast Mississippi" was recently published in the December issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science and focused on establishing a standard operation procedure for archaeologists prior to any chemical investigations of freshwater mussels. Current research includes identifying seasonality of freshwater shell middens using stable oxygen isotopes (the manuscript is currently being written), the dating and environmental modeling of archaeological sites using strontium and uranium isotopes, and the stratigraphic correlations between paleolakes and paleoarchaeological sites in the Harney Basin, southeastern Oregon.