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Our Team

The Alpine Ecosystem Research Institute is comprised of a dedicated team of researchers who are passionate about understanding the complex relationships between humans, montane ecosystems, and their native species. Our team conducts multi-disciplinary research to promote the conservation and preservation of the alpine ecosystem. We are committed to advancing scientific knowledge from multi-disciplinary perspectives, bringing together experts from different fields, including archaeology, ecology, geology, climatology, and biology.


Dr. Scott W. Dersam is the Founder, principal investigator, and principal researcher of the Alpine Ecosystems Research Institute (AERI), formerly the Beartooth Ecosystems Alpine Archaeological Research (BEAAR) Project. Scott holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Montana and an M.A. from the University of Wyoming. Dersam has years of experience in varying forms of archaeological research, spanning the foothills and mountains of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the High Plains, the Great Basin, and Yellowstone National Park. Dersam has taught at the University of Montana, Missoula, and currently teaches at Montana State University, Bozeman, instructing on various archaeological and anthropological topics. He has worked for multiple cultural resource management firms and the USDA Forest Service in Wyoming. Dersam’s field and laboratory research specializes in high-elevation North American hunter-gatherer settlement patterning, alpine occupation duration, spatial statistical modeling, Pleistocene landscapes, and the evolving cultural mountain adaptations of the Rocky Mountains. Scott has supervised public and professional archaeological research efforts in the mountain ranges of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, focusing primarily on the Beartooth Wilderness of Montana since 2018. Dersam’s research has appeared in a special issue of The Journal of Hunter-Gatherer Research (2023), guest edited by Dersam, as well as the National Forest Overview of the Gallatin National Forest (2023).

Sari B. Dersam M.A., RPA is a co-founder, co-lead researcher, and lead systems director for the Alpine Ecosystems Research Institute (AERI), formerly the Beartooth Ecosystems Alpine Archaeological Research (BEAAR) Project. Sari is also a Project Manager and GIS Specialist for Cannon Heritage Consultants. Sari has her M.A. in Anthropology and GIS certificate from the University of Wyoming. Her thesis research consisted of a spatial analysis of surface wind patterns and high-elevation site locations in the Beartooth Mountains. Sari specializes in GIS, statistics, and programming in R. She has worked on numerous CRM surveys and research projects throughout Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and South Dakota. Sari is a member of the Society for American Archaeology and the Montana Archaeological Society.

Our Board Members

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Douglas MacDonald, PhD

Doug MacDonald is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Montana, Missoula. He received his graduate degrees from Washington State University in the 1990s. Since 2006, his research has focused on the Native American archaeology of Montana, Wyoming, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He is particularly interested in the earliest migrations of Native Americans to North America. In 2024, the Montana Historical Society Press will publish Land of Beginnings: The Archaeology of Montana’s First Peoples. Prior books include Montana Before History (2012) and Before Yellowstone: Native American Archaeology in the National Park (2018). Before Yellowstone provides an overview of the last 11,000 years of Native American use of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The Yellowstone archaeology project has provided research for the completion of more than 20 graduate student projects, as well as more than 30 published articles and book chapters, many of which appear in the two-volume book series entitled Yellowstone Archaeology.

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Joanna Lambert, PhD

Dr. Joanna Lambert is a scientist and tenured professor of wildlife ecology and conservation biology at the University of Colorado – Boulder, where she also serves as Director of the American Canid Project.  Born and raised in industrial England, and an immigrant to the rust belt of the United States, Joanna Lambert spent her formative years observing animals in heavily urbanized landscapes. She has spent her adult life making up for this by traveling to some of the most remote regions of the planet to study wild animals in wild places. Her research has now taken her to all 7 continents, but a major focus has been on equatorial Africa where she studies primates such as chimpanzees and Yellowstone National Park, where she studies carnivores such as grey wolves. She has published six books and hundreds of peer-reviewed articles on her research and serves as editor for several international science journals. For her efforts she has been elected as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as a Fellow in the Linnaean Society of London – the institution where Charles Darwin first presented his theory of evolution.  Throughout her almost 40 years of field research around the world, she has witnessed extraordinary challenges to biodiversity and human quality of life – realities that have fundamentally impacted her approach to science.  She has no patience for scientists who remain cloistered in the Ivory Tower.  Now, in addition to being a field scientist and educator, she is also a conservation practitioner and activist.  In this capacity, she serves as a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission and as an advisor to the United Nations Environmental Program and the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project.  In her spare time, Joanna spends as much time as she can off-grid in wild and rugged places, preferably on a horse and with her dogs, striving for optimism and solutions in a challenging world.


Rachel Reckin, PhD

Rachel Reckin is an archaeologist and historic preservation specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. She is from Libby, Montana, and has been exploring and seeking to better
understand the Rocky Mountains since childhood. Rachel has worked for the Forest Service, Park Service and FWP helping to protect and preserve Montana's heritage for more than 15 years.  Rachel holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of Wyoming and a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge. Rachel was part of the 2014 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars. Her research interests include precontact high elevation lifeways, the Rocky Mountains, ice patch archaeology, variation in lithic technology, hunter‐gatherer ethnography, and cultural resource management. Rachel lives in Helena with her husband Nick, daughter Iona and ridiculous mutt Winnie.


Ken Cannon, PhD

Kenneth Cannon is the President and owner of Cannon Heritage Consultants and an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Utah State University. He received his PhD in geography from the University of Nebraska, where he used GIS and stable isotope analyses to understand the biogeography of prehistoric bison in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Ken brings 30 years of experience in the Intermountain West through his tenure with the National Park Service and in the private cultural resource management industry. Ken also served as interim cultural resource manager at the Valles Caldera, New Mexico, for six months in 2003. He has supervised numerous projects in Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, as well as elsewhere in the United States, ranging from small-scale surveys to large data recovery and salvage projects. Ken is permitted in several western states. He is a member of the Idaho Professional Archaeological Council, Utah Professional Archaeological Council, Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologists, Society for American Archaeology, the Geological Society of America, and the American Quaternary Association. Ken is President of the Rocky Mountain Anthropological Association (2019-) and Chair of the Society for American Archaeology Excellence in Cultural Resource Management Award. He was the founding President of the Rocky Mountain Anthropological Association (2007-2013) and has served as Councilor for Archaeology for the American Quaternary Association (2008-2010), and Vice President for Government Affairs and Research (2011-2013), the Media Coordinator/Newsletter Editor (2013-2015) for the Utah Professional Archaeological Council and VP for Ethics for the Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologists. He is also a frequent internal reviewer for the University of Utah Press and the University Press of Colorado. He serves on the research board for the Hudson-Meng site in Nebraska. Ken has published widely on his work in archeological and interdisciplinary journals. He has also received over 20 competitive grants for his research from various federal and private entities, including the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the Earthwatch Institute.

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Jack Fisher, PhD

Jack Fisher was an anthropology professor at Montana State University from 1990-2020. His archaeological research interests include learning about the lifeways of past hunter-gatherer people in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains of Montana. His areas of expertise include the study of animal bones from archaeological sites and spatial organization of hunter-gatherer sites. He has carried out ethnoarchaeological research among Efe part-time hunter-gatherers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has collaborated in archaeological research into the lifeways of Later Stone Age people of the Western Cape province of South Africa.

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Jeff Reed, PhD

With over 25 years of experience in developing and deploying innovative technology solutions,
Jeff is a visionary and versatile leader in the fields of IoT and AI. He currently leads the North
American strategy and customer alliances for Microsoft embedded and IoT solutions at Avnet, a global distributor of electronic components and services. He is also an executive board member at Grizzly Systems, a startup that designs and produces low-power, vision and audio AI hardware and software platforms for remote asset monitoring. Jeff has a proven track record of delivering value and impact to his customers, partners, and stakeholders across various roles and industries. He has successfully launched and managed software products, services, and businesses, ranging from Microsoft's Outlook Web Access in the 90s, to Arrow Electronics' IoT SaaS platform in the 2010s, to Grizzly Systems' AI edge devices in the 2020s. He has also been recognized as Microsoft's Indirect Partner of the Year and has filed multiple patents in image similarity and pattern discovery. Jeff is passionate about using technology to protect the wild places on the planet, and he lives in Montana, where he owns and operates a regenerative farm and supports conservation efforts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Crew Members & Student Researchers


Matthew Fisher Canaday


Katrina Rorhus


Matthew DeVries


Colin King

Affiliate Research Partners

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Jack Fisher, PhD


Rachel Reckin, PhD


PaleoCultural Research Group (PCRG)


Yellowstone Gateway Museum


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