OCA Staff & Bios

Our Senior staff includes the Director and three Project Directors (who altogether work as Co-Principal Investigators), two Project Managers , a GIS Analyst, a Laboratory Director, and a support staff including a Unit Administrator and an Administrative Assistant. In addition, OCA has a on-call pool of experienced Crew Chiefs and Assistant Archeologists qualified for survey, excavation, artifact analyses, and laboratory tasks. OCA also has long-term consultant relationships with analytical specialists for pollen, macrobotanical remains, and geomorphology. Senior staff regularly update critical skills by participation in workshops, conferences, and classes, particularly those devoted to the evolution of cultural resources laws and regulations, specialized archeological knowledge, and digital applications.


Robert Dello-Russo, PhD

Director/Principal Investigator

PhD, University of New Mexico

Phone: (505) 277-5853
Email: rdellorusso@unm.edu

Curriculum Vitae

In the mid-1970s, Dr. Dello-Russo began working with the Bureau of Land Management as a cadastral surveyor. That work involved the retracement of original 19th century Government Land Office surveys and the documentation of numerous historic cultural resources in Colorado and then Montana, starting in 1977. In 1984, he began archaeological contract field work in the Pacific Northwest with both Washington State University and private contractors and took classes in Archaeology at the University of Oregon in Eugene. In late 1986,he moved to New Mexico, where he continued doing contract archaeology. In the late 1980s, he enrolled in the Anthropology program at UNM and started working periodically with the Office of Contract Archeology. By 1991, Robert had completed his MA in Anthropology (Archaeology) at UNM and, in 1993, he opened his own CRM firm, Escondida Research Group (ERG). He did contract work throughout the state, research work with the University of Wyoming and completed his PhD in Anthropology (Archaeology) in 1999 at UNM. In 2005, Robert was hired by the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish to create their Section 106 compliance program, so he and Patrice moved to Santa Fe, where they still currently reside. In 2007, Robert accepted a position of Deputy Director with the Office of Archaeological Studies, Department of Cultural Affairs. In that role, he oversaw the completion of many CRM projects across the state. He accepted the position of Director at the Office of Contract Archeology in late 2013. He has pioneered sourcing studies for silicified rhyolite quarries in west-central NM using XRF, undertaken rock shelter archaeology at Lemitar Shelter, and is currently engaged in Paleoindian and paleoenvironmental research at the Water Canyon site.

Robin M. Cordero

Project Director/Co-Principal Investigator

MA, California State University, Chico

PhD candidate, Anthropology, University of New Mexico

Phone: (505) 277-5853
Email: rcordero@unm.edu

Curriculum Vitae

Robin M. Cordero began his career in Cultural Resource Management with his first project in 1997. Since then, he has participated in excavation, survey, analysis, and reporting throughout northern California, New Mexico, west Texas, and southern Colorado. Mr. Cordero arrived at the Office of Contract Archeology as a Senior Archeologist in 2006 where he currently serves as a Project Director/co-Principal Investigator, Lab Director, database manager, and as the resident bioarchaeologist/zooarchaeologist. Recent projects managed/directed by Mr. Cordero include the analysis/report on excavations of the P-IV Alameda School Site pueblo (LA 421), excavations of two Mogollon/Mimbres pithouse sites at Lake Roberts, preparation of the New Mexico Army National Guard 2015-2019 Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plan, 935-acre survey of the Rio Chama Wildlife Management Area, survey of the Capulin Volcano National Monument, and excavations of 88 sites along the 197-mile Mid-American Pipeline.

In addition, Mr. Cordero is working towards a Doctorate in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. Mr. Cordero’s main research region is the Middle/Northern Rio Grande with primary research interests in areas of Puebloan mortuary practices, mobility, community formation, garden hunting, and Puebloan use of avifauna with an emphasis towards migratory waterfowl.

Alex Kurota

Project Director/Co-Principal Investigator

MA, Wichita State University

Phone: (505) 277-5853
Email: akurota@unm.edu

Curriculum Vitae

Since 1996 Alex Kurota has been developing experience in a broad variety of archeological projects including surveys, excavations, testing, construction monitoring and site evaluations in Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, and Texas panhandle. Such projects include excavations at Coronado’s Jimmy Owens site in Texas, as well as digs in Arizona’s Tonto, Tucson and Phoenix Basins, the Long House Valley, and on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. In New Mexico, Alex has excavated on La Bajada Mesa, in Alamogordo, at Fort Wingate, near Roswell, in the Las Cruces, and the Fence Lake regions, on White Sands Missile Range, as well as in the Boot Heel and along the New Mexico-Mexico International Border. He has conducted surveys in most regions of New Mexico as well as throughout most of Arizona. With his extensive fieldwork and research experience, Kurota is permitted as a Project Director and Field Supervisor in NW, SE, and SW New Mexico BLM regions. Since 2003, Alex has developed research interest in tracing the origins of Ancestral Pueblo ceramics.

Alex Kurota has expertise in ceramic analysis of Hohokam, Upland and Lowland Patayan, Ancestral Pueblo, Mogollon, and Jornada-Mogollon cultures as well as the analysis of the historic pueblo, Apache and Navajo ceramics. In addition to his ceramic expertise, Alex is skilled in artifact illustration, mapping with total station, transit, and GPS instruments, Kurota regularly delivers public talks at professional conferences and popular audiences, and has four years experience as a high school teacher.

Banks Leonard

Project Director/Co-Principal Investigator

MA, University of California, Los Angeles

Phone: (505) 277-5853
Email: banksleonard@unm.edu

Curriculum Vitae

Mr. Leonard received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona and an M.A. from UCLA. He has worked on or directed archaeological field projects in the southwestern and southeastern United States, in California, and in both highland and coastal Peru. He also has experience in linguistic and ethnographic research, and university teaching. Mr. Leonard authored or coauthored numerous technical reports, conference papers, journal articles, articles in edited volumes, and articles for popular science publications and has also appeared in television documentaries about work he has undertaken. For over half his career he has worked in the Southwest, including large-scale excavations at sites belonging to Archaic, Hohokam, Prescott, Mogollon, and Ancestral Puebloan cultures in Arizona, Archaic, Formative, and historic Navajo sites in New Mexico, a landmark study of prehistoric cannibalism in southwestern Colorado, and prehistoric and historic sites in the Junta de los Rios region of Trans-Pecos Texas. In addition to conducting field projects, Mr. Leonard serves as OCA’s principal lithic analyst.

Christian Solfisburg

Project Manager

BS, Southern Oregon University

Phone: (505) 277-6268
Email: csolfisburg@unm.edu

Curriculum Vitae

Christian Solfisburg has conducted fieldwork in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Northern California, Oregon and Washington. Specialized field of interest is geomorphology and geoarchaeology, and lithic analysis. As field supervisor and crew chief during the OCA 2013 MAPL WEP III pipeline project, Christian led crews in excavation of LA 25824; a Pueblo IV masonry room block, LA 172328; a Mid Archaic to Late Archaic transition period site located in the San Juan Basin, NM, leading to the discovery of Bison remains and a faunal processing activity area, and LA 110946; San Luis de Cabezon Site continuing OCA’s 1996 investigations which resulted in evidence of maize agriculture in a Late Archaic, San Pedro Phase residential occupation of the Rio Puerco Valley, Sandoval County, NM.

Erin Hegberg

Project Manager

MA, University of New Mexico

PhD candidate, Anthropology, University of New Mexico

Phone: (505) 277-5853
Email: hegberg@unm.edu

Curriculum Vitae

Erin Hegberg is working towards a Doctorate in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico with dissertation research on the development of Hispanic identity and its relationship to material culture in New Mexico in the Mexican and US Territorial periods. Prior to this, Ms. Hegberg received her BA with highest honors in Anthropology with a minor in Art History from University of California, Santa Cruz in 2004, and an MA in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 2008. Ms. Hegberg’s main research areas are historic ceramics and the 19th and 20th centuries in the Southwest, with primary research interests in areas of identity and ethnicity, historic mining, culturally modified trees, and the Old Spanish Trail.

Ms. Hegberg arrived at the Office of Contract Archeology as a Staff Archeologist in June 2014 where she has worked on one survey in the Rio Chama Wildlife Management Area. She has been working in cultural resource management since 2004, including four years supervisory experience as a crew chief. Ms. Hegberg has worked with Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service, and the US Forest Service throughout New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and California on a wide variety of project types, including timber sales, road and trail improvements, oil drilling pads, and range management activities.

Scott Gunn

GIS Analyst

MS, University of New Mexico

Phone: (505) 277-6369
Email: sagunn@unm.edu

Curriculum Vitae

Scott Gunn has experience throughout New Mexico in both pre-contact and historic archaeology in all phases of archaeological compliance. His particular expertise includes geospatial methods, GIS modeling, and spatial analysis and statistics. He has extensive experience in the development of web mapping applications and information technology, including JavaScript development and relational database management. In addition, he is proficient in technical writing, archaeological report production, and has undergone Section 106 training. He has applied these skills in the federal, academic, and contract (CRM) environments. Scott’s research interests include the use of GIS and archaeological predictive modeling to manage cultural resources, particularly in the San Juan Basin in Northwestern New Mexico. He received his Master’s of Science (MS) in public archaeology from the University of New Mexico in 2013.

Donna Kay Lasusky

Unit Administrator

BA, University of New Mexico

Phone: (505) 277-5853
Email: lasusky@unm.edu

Donna Kay Lasusky has worked with the Office of Contract Archeology for 26 years. She began as a Clerical Specialist in 1988, and is now the Unit Administrator for OCA. Donna Kay is responsible for all financial reporting and personnel administration. She is also OCA’s lead report production specialist, having produced numerous archeological reports which range from small to large major multi-volume reports.

Kimberly Kachirisky

Administrative Assistant

Phone: (505) 277-5853
Email: kkachirisky@unm.edu

Kimberly has been with the Office of Contract Archeology since March 2015. She holds the position of Administrative Assistant 3, providing administrative and human resources support to the department.