Stephen is working to better define the intersection between archaeological fieldwork and participant wellness on a project funded through the Henry Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. As the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR), Stephen has been active in this emerging field since 2015.
After completing a BA in History at the University of North Texas Stephen served as an officer in the United States Air Force. He earned MA degrees in Theology and Archaeology and Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014. He completed his doctorate at Durham University in 2020 under the supervision of Anna Leone and Sarah Semple. His thesis examined the material evidence for ritual interaction with water among Christians in the Late Antique Near East, effectively demonstrating the earliest evidence for Christian 'Holy Water'.
Research conducted on British veterans' archaeology programs has demonstrated that participation in archaeological excavation and metal detecting yields short-term wellness benefits. My research is focused on generating actionable data that will allow American Veterans Archaeological Recovery and similar programs to enhance these benefits and maintain them among our participant populations over the long-term. Specifically, I am interested in 1) better contextualizing existing data by measuring wellness outcomes on non-veteran-specific projects, and 2) incorporating physical assessments in order to approach the issue of wellness more holistically.