Project Crew

About Our Crew

“The bulk of our field crew at the 810 Royal site has been composed of undergraduate and graduate students from the University of New Orleans who are enrolled in the summer field school in urban archaeology.

Six UNO undergraduates participated in the Summer 2015 field work: Christopher Combel, Christopher Johnson, Patrick Lacourrege, Elena Ricci, Andrew Smith, and Sydney Viard. In addition, there four graduate students from UNO’s Urban Studies program participated. Helen Bouzon and Brittany Waggener are Urban Studies doctoral students, and Lori Atkinson and Liz McDaniel are students in the Masters of Science in Urban Studies program, focusing on applied urban anthropology and cultural resource management. During Summer of 2016, UNO students Reid Andrus, Michelle Butcher, Adelle Davis, Maya Lahti, Travis Trahan also participated in the field school, while our graduate students continued to help on the project.

A number of other UNO students have been active in various phases of the project, including Maddie Alford, Brandy Dufrene, Rene Dufrene, Janet Greenfield, Elizabeth Rogers, and Tacara Solomon. In addition, two graduate students from other institutions are collaborating with us and assisting on the project. Grace Krause is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University (see her blog at, and Christopher Grant is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Both have been kind enough to lend hands and expertise at 810 Royal even while working on their other projects. Many others have helped out in the field and lab, visited, asked questions, and sometimes even bought us lunch. Thanks to all of you have expressed your interest and support!

Dr. D. Ryan Gray

Dr. D. Ryan Gray is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans and a member of the Louisiana Antiquities Commission and Archaeological Survey. This is his fourth year at UNO, including a first year in which he was employed as a full-time instructor while he completed his dissertation. Dr. Gray is an archaeologist specializing in the historical archaeology of New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Gray started his career in archaeology with an undergraduate degree from Columbia University, New York, New York, in 1996, and field work at the Mayan site of El Pilar on the border of Belize and Guatemala. He began doing archaeology in New Orleans in 1999 while working for the local cultural resource management firm Earth Search, Inc. During his time at Earth Search, he served in a variety of roles in the field and lab, eventually acting as both a project manager for many of the company’s large urban projects and as the lab manager with the responsibility for preparing analyses and reports for those and other projects.

After helping ESI rebuild from damage incurred during Hurricane Katrina, Gray elected to continue his academic studies in the University of Chicago’s Department of Anthropology beginning in 2007, completing an M.A. thesis on Chinese immigration to Louisiana, as seen through the history and archaeology of a Chinese-owned laundry from the Exclusion era. While at the University of Chicago, Gray received the Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowship in the Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences to support his dissertation research. His dissertation (Anthropology, Chicago, 2012) examined race, urban development, auto-construction, and slum clearance, through the archaeology at the sites of the city’s St. Thomas and Magnolia Housing Projects and at Mother Catherine Seal’s Temple of the Innocent Blood in the Lower Ninth Ward. He is currently preparing a book manuscript dealing with history and archaeology at the sites of four of New Orleans’ housing projects, in an examination of the logics and ideologies behind slum clearance, both in the past and present.

Since Dr. Gray has been at UNO, he has worked to develop a long-term archaeological project examining race and segregation in America in the Jim Crow era through the archaeology of endangered sites having to do with the history of jazz in New Orleans. These sites will be explored in excavations conducted by a yearly UNO field school, available as a course for undergraduate or graduate credit. The first three seasons of the field school investigated the site of Storyville, the city’s quasi-legal red light district, often considered the birthplace of jazz. This required negotiations with a number of entities, including the City of New Orleans, the Housing Authority of New Orleans, the State Historic Preservation Office, and private contractors, and has been covered extensively in local press. Dr. Gray was also responsible for the UNO Department of Anthropology being the recipient of a subcontract from Tulane to do archaeological research at Madame John’s Legacy in the French Quarter in the Summer of 2013.

Much of Dr. Gray’s recent work concerns twentieth century African-American life in the urban South. His work on Mother Catherine Seal is part of a larger project examining auto-construction and self-building in African-American religious and spiritual communities throughout the Southeast. Other ongoing projects include work on the St. Peter Street Cemetery, New Orleans first formal cemetery of the Colonial era. This work stemmed from a cooperative effort with Earth Search, Inc., the FACES lab at LSU, and Dr. Shannon Dawdy of the University of Chicago to recover human remains endangered by a construction project on private property. In addition, Dr. Gray has been developing a mapping and documentation project for graves at Holt Cemetery, the city’s paupers’ cemetery.