Maya Research Program

Research Members of the Maya Research Program

Grace Bascopé
Dr. Grace Bascopé directs MRP's projects in the Maya village of Yaxunah, Yucatán, México and is a Resident Research Associate at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Ft Worth. She holds a degree in Medical and Environmental Anthropology. Her Ph.D. was from Southern Methodist University, and she has taught at both Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas.
Timothy Beach
Dr. Timothy Beach is a Professor of Geography and Earth Sciences, C. B. Smith, Sr., Centennial Chair of Geography, at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Beach is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a leader in the field of Maya wetlands agriculture and is working in collaboration with both the Blue Creek Archaeological Project and the Program for Belize Archaeological Project. He has also  conducted field research on geomorphology and geoarchaeology in the Corn Belt of the United States, Mexico,  Guatemala, Nicaragua, Syria, Turkey, Iceland, and Germany.
Pieta Greaves
Pieta Greaves is a founding member of Drakon Heritage and Conservation. Based in the UK, she is the vice-chair of the Icon PACR accreditation committee. Her specialism is the conservation of museum and archaeological objects and she has considerable field experience in both conservation and archaeology, working in the UK and abroad. Her most notable project is The Staffordshire Hoard conservation project which won two awards under Pieta's leadership: The Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation (2015 Icon Awards) and the American Institute of Archaeology Conservation Management Award (2014).
Thomas Guderjan
Dr. Guderjan is a Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Texas at Tyler and an archaeologist with four decades of experience in Central America. He is the founder and President of the MRP and the co-director of the Blue Creek Archaeological Project. His books, The Nature of an Ancient Maya City: Resources, Interaction and Power at Blue Creek, Belize, University of Alabama Press (2007), and Blue Creek: Life, Wealth and Ritual in an Ancient Maya City,  British Archaeological Reports (2016), summarize much of the work done at Blue Creek. ( or
Christopher Layser
Christopher Layser obtained his MA in Cultural Astronomy from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and studied Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture at the University of Oklahoma. He is an Assistant Editor for the Journal of Astronomy in Culture, the official journal for the International Society of Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC), and a staff member with the Maya Research Program (MRP) assisting in the digital mapping and 3D imaging. He is a board member of the Penn Museum Pre-Columbian Society and an active member of the Society for Cultural Astronomy in the American Southwest (SCAAS). His academic focus is the Skyscape Archaeology of the ancient Maya.
C. Colleen Hanratty
Colleen Hanratty is an anthropologist with the Center for Social Sciences Research at the University of Texas at Tyler and co-director of the Blue Creek Archaeological Project. She has conducted archaeological research  throughout the southeastern and southwestern United States, Mexico, Peru and Belize. Her research focuses on the built environment and production studies of material culture. ( or
Christophe Helmke
Dr. Christophe Helmke is Associate Professor of American Indian Languages and Cultures at the Institute of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His primary research interests are Mesoamerican archaeology and epigraphy. Most of his research has focused on Mesoamerica, especially on the Classic Maya, Teotihuacan and the Epiclassic cultures of Central Mexico.
Lars Kotthoff
Dr. Lars Kotthoff is an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of Wyoming. His research focuses on the analysis of hard problems in artificial intelligence and how to teach machines to solve them more efficiently. In his spare time, he likes digging in he dirt and using Computer Science to make the results of archaeological research more accessible to the general public. (
Hollie A. Lincoln
Dr. Lincoln received her PhD from Louisiana State University, a M.S. in Cultural Resource Management Archaeology form Saint Cloud University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Cultural Studies from the University of Minnesota, Duluth and holds a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Sciences. She works in Minnesota archaeology and cultural resource management, both in the field and in the lab, for contract companies and the United States Forest Service.
Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach
Dr. Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach is Professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment, and Fellow of the C.B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair in US-Mexico Relations, at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Luzzadder-Beach conducts research on Maya agriculture, geoarchaeology, hydrology, water quality and geomorphology. She is currently the President of the American Association of Geographers, and serves on the Science and Human Rights Coalition Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Alexander Parmington
Dr. Alex Parmington has a PhD in Maya Archaeology and over fifteen years’ experience working in Cultural Heritage Management and archaeological research, both in Australia and abroad, including in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. He has written and contributed to many journals and organisations including Popular Archaeology, the Minesterio de Cultura y Deportes de Guatemala, the Instituto de Antropología e Historia de Guatemala, the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Mexicon, the National Institute of Culture and History in Belize, and Cambridge University Press.  Alex also has a long track record of working directly with Aboriginal communities in Australia, which includes eleven years for Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation as their Heritage Manager, and later their CEO. Alex is currently an Associate Director at Extent Heritage Victoria and Research Associate (Hon.) in La Trobe University’s Archaeology Program in Melbourne Australia.
Alejandro Pastrana
Alejandro Pastrana is a founding member of the MRP since its establishment in 1992. He has led excavations at the sites of Blue Creek, Tulix Mul, Tz'unun and Xnoha. He  serves as the senior advisor to the directors of the Blue Creek Archaeological Project and is the senior field director for the project.
Rachael Smith
Rachel received her M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Mississippi and B.S. in Sociology with an emphasis in Anthropology from Stephen F. Austin University. She works in cultural resource management throughout the southeastern United States as a technical report writer and GIS specialist for TerraXplorations, Inc. She currently serves as a staff archaeologist and operation supervisor for the Maya Research Program.
Jocelyne Swayze-Karr 
Jocelyne is an Operations Supervisor for the Maya Research Program (MRP) focused on bio-archaeology, digital archaeological methodologies, and student engagement. Her research interests include bio-archaeological and material cultural evidence of ancient sociopolitical dynamics, economy, and natural environments, particularly throughout the Ancient Maya wetland ditched fields and upland agricultural settlements of what is now northwestern Belize.  After graduating from the University of Texas (Tyler) in 2018 with a BS in History and Anthropology, she completed a MA in Archaeology and Heritage, with distinction, from the University of Leicester in 2022. During that time, Jocelyne created a Best Practices manual for a 3D bioarchaeological database based around photogrammetry which culminated in her graduate thesis analyzing the skeletal population of the MRP using odontometrics of the human canine dentition and associated statistical analyses.
Robert Warden
Bob Warden is the Chair of the School of Architecture and the past Director of the Center for Architectural Heritage at Texas A& M University and has lead MRP’s digital recording project since 2008. Currently he is rendering 3D models of the Blue Creek project's excavations, artifacts, and caves. Bob has previously dealt with WWII battle sites in France, French cathedrals and Puebloan materials in Arizona. (

Normando Witzil
Normando “Mandito”  Witzil  is a Belizean native of Maya heritage with over 30 years of experience as a community leader in northwestern Belize. Normando has led MRP operations throughout northwestern Belize. He first started at La Milpa in 1991, leading Dr. Mark Wolf through the jungle on transect surveys and helping with the mapping of new Maya sites.  Since then, Normando has lead excavations at the sites of Blue Creek, Rosita, Bedrock, Tulix Mul – just to name a few. Normando’s leadership in the field lead  to a major excavation that was funded by the National Geographic Society at Tulix Mul in 2023. He is currently in charge of our local labor and will lead an excavation at Tzunun in 2024.
Virgilio Witzil
Virgilio “Junior” Witzil is a Belizean native of Maya heritage with over 30  years of experience as a community leader in northwestern Belize. Junior has led anthropological investigations of archaeological sites such as La Milpa, Dos Hombres, Blue Creek, Rosita, Bedrock, and  Tz’unun. Junior is a certified tour guide and former member of the Belize Defense Force with extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna of Belizean jungles. He enjoys teaching MRP students while keeping them safe. He will again lead an operation at the site of Tz’unun in 2024.

Marc Wolf
Dr. Marc Wolf is a GIS specialist and has done extensive survey and excavation work in Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. He completed his PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center and works for the United States Department of Agriculture: Forest Service. Marc is a staff archaeologist and surveyor for the Maya Research Program.

MRP Board of Directors

Grace Bascopé, (Dallas, Texas)
Bill Collins (Long Beach, California) -- Emeritus
Kim Cox (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Thomas H. Guderjan (Tyler, Texas) 
C. Colleen Hanratty (Tyler, Texas) 
Bob Hibschman (Eugene, Oregon)
Blue Creek Project Staff
Tim Beach, University of Texas at Austin
Chris Layser, Maya Research Program

Pieta Greaves, University of Cardiff
Thomas Guderjan, University of Texas at Tyler, Maya Research Program
Colleen Hanratty, University of Texas at Tyler, Maya Research Program
Hollie Lincoln, Saint Cloud State University
Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, University of Texas at Austin
Alex Parmington, Extent Heritage Victoria
Alex Pastrana, Maya Research Program 
Rachael Smith, TerraXplorations, Inc.
Jocelyne Swayze-Karr, Maya Research Program 
Bob Warden, Texas A&M University
Mark Wolf, United States Department of Agriculture: Forest Service
Yaxunah Project Staff
Grace Bascopé - Project Director (Dallas, Texas)
Elías Alcocer - Asst. Project Director (Universidad del Oriente, Yucatan)