Elizabeth Sutton is an anthropologist specializing in heritage management and California archaeology. She holds a BA in Art History from the University of California at Los Angeles, and earned her MA and PhD at the University of California at Santa Barbara where she investigated Chumash household and community organization on the northern Channel Islands. Dr. Sutton enjoys using museums as learning laboratories to provide students with training in all aspects of museum operations and research. Dr. Sutton also promotes a community centered approach to museums and welcomes opportunities to collaborate with various campus and community groups to share their stories and experiences through museum exhibits and programs. Elizabeth has over a decade of experience in museums, having previously worked at the Union Station museums in Ogden, Utah, Utah State University Museum of Anthropology, the John Cooper Center at Cal State Fullerton, the National Park Service (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area), the Repository for Archaeological and Ethnographic collections at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
Elizabeth is a fourth generation Californian and returns as often as possible to visit the Pacific Ocean. Outside of the museum she enjoys gardening, hiking, and other excuses to play in the dirt; exploring the Midwest with her husband and sons; and restoring her John Replinger home and 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.
Following careers in historical archaeology and retail, Karen joined the Spurlock Museum Business Office in 2004, assisting with purchasing, payroll, financial reporting, and human resources. After the retirement of the Business Manager in 2010, she assumed sole charge of the office, adding budgeting, grant administration, facilities, and equipment management to the mix. One of the greatest challenges of the job is keeping Museum staff compliant with ever-changing state and University policy and regulations.
In her free time, she enjoys trolling antique stores, finding good barbeque and Indian food, listening to her son play the euphonium, and reading a good book in a quiet corner.
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Katya Reno has worked widely across many media and communications arenas. She began her career in book publishing, at Oxford University Press. She has also worked as an editor and writer for several magazine publishers and as an English professor. Most recently, she taught technical writing, editing, and creative writing at Knox College.
She received an MFA in creative writing from Texas State University and is currently completing her thesis for an MS in Rhetoric and Composition at Illinois State University.
A native of Denver, Colorado, Katya still enjoys hiking, camping, and life in the great outdoors.
Special Events Coordinator
Brian is one of those that moved to the University of Illinois for school and never left. Before starting at Spurlock in 2005, he did make one earlier appearance at the Museum by visiting Spurlock on its grand opening in 2002. With a group of 10-15 students, he keeps the Museum's Information Desk and 300+ events each year running smoothly.
You likely wouldn't guess that the Museum's desk/events guy obtained his degree in computer science, but his analytical skills are applied while troubleshooting last-second audio/video crises or coordinating work schedules with the changing student class schedules. Brian is usually one to not pass up exciting opportunities, so if you can find him, things he might discuss with you include, but are not limited to: travel, friends, family, contests, baseball, daylight saving, and bacon.
Wayne Pitard earned his PhD in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1982. He has been Professor of Religion at the University of Illinois since 1983, teaching Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern Religions. After many years of serving as the curator of the Mesopotamian exhibit, he served as the Director of the Museum from 2007 to 2016. While here at the Museum, he has become the Spurlock historian and has written articles on a number of the Museum’s most interesting artifacts.
Wayne's research interests have focused on the cultural background of early Israelite religion, and he has written extensively on the ancient Canaanite religious texts from Ugarit, Syria, as well as on the ancient Aramaeans and their cultural relationships with biblical Israel. He has been recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a Fulbright Grant, and was named a University of Illinois University Scholar in 1993.
Assistant Director of Education
Kim has been associated with the Museum for many years, from visiting school kid to college intern and volunteer to current senior staff member. Her position includes duties in a variety of areas: creating and presenting programs; supervising staff; organizing, facilitating, and marketing special events; managing the care and use of the Teaching Collections; and serving as one of the coordinators for temporary exhibits.
Kim earned master’s degrees from both the University of Illinois and the University of Idaho and appreciates how her job reinforces life-long learning.
Education & Publications Coordinator
Beth has been working in museums since college, when she volunteered in the hands-on discovery room at University of Illinois Museum of Natural History. Graduate degrees in museum studies (University of Toronto) and library and information science (University of Illinois) have still not quite prepared her for 200 12-year-olds streaming through the front doors.
Beth first came to Spurlock in 2000 as a graduate assistant in publications and exhibit research, and she has maintained those duties while adding tours, public programs, editing, graphic design, and exhibit development and coordination. Exhibits are her favorite projects because they provide learning experiences that only museums can offer. Beth also loves opportunities to collaborate with other campus units. Outside of work, Beth loves to knit, sing, and watch Indian movies.
Public Education and Volunteers Coordinator
Monica is a museum educator who believes in inclusive, thoughtful, and engaging museum spaces. Her first internship with the Program in African American Culture at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History ignited her passion for museum programming and the idea that the museum is a place of limitless possibilities. She received her BA in History from Southern University in Baton Rouge and her MA in Museum Education from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Monica is a native Angeleno and a huge fan of Los Angeles street tacos. She loves music, visual and performing art, Ida B. Wells, popular culture, and political satire. When she’s not coordinating volunteers, you may find Monica binging on episodes of The Golden Girls.
Academic Programs Coordinator
Abigail fell in love with museums as a young child. After receiving her MA in Early Modern History, she started working at Museo de las Americas in Denver, CO. There she worked as Collections Manager and PR/Marketing Coordinator and saw the value museums have for inclusive, engaging education. She is currently completing her PhD in Texts and Technology with a focus in Public History at the University of Central Florida.
When she’s not working, Abigail can be found baking treats for friends and family. Cakes are her favorite because they can be technically challenging but cookies are easy to ship and share. On weekends she can often be found hiking with her two dogs, Kepler and Archie.
Jennifer completed her BA and MA at Northern Illinois University in Southeast Asian Art History with a Museum Studies emphasis. As a student she documented artifacts for the newly founded Burma Gallery at NIU. A stay in Philadelphia for a 9-month Collections Management Internship at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology turned into 10 years when she became Keeper for the Asian Collections, occasionally moonlighting as curatorial consultant at the Ryerss Museum.
Jennifer returned to Illinois as Spurlock’s Registrar in 2001 and now works with a staff of nearly 20 full- and part-time employees, student assistants, interns, and volunteers to manage the growing collections, preserve and enhance their documentation, and teach Museum Studies. Outside of work her days are full of aerial arts; Argentine tango, swing, blues, salsa, and other forms of dance; quilting; gardening; learning Spanish; and exploration into teaching English as a second language.
Assistant Registrar for Acquisitions
Dery was born in Honduras, but he spent most of his life in the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area. He attended the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, graduating with a BS in Business Administration and a BA in Art History. He continued his studies at Texas Christian University, where he earned his MA in Art History, focusing on Pre-Colombian and Latin American Art.
Dery’s passion for museums and cultural artifacts began at an early age when he visited a small anthropological museum in his native Honduras. Throughout his studies this passion has only intensified through working in different academic, private, and public cultural institutions. During his spare time, he loves learning about non-western art and cultures. He’s slightly obsessed with Russian culture, particularly during the reign of Catherine the Great. You may also find him riding his bike around town or painting while listening to P!nk and music from around the world.
Assistant Registrar, Photography and Photographic Archives
Travis received a BS in Journalism and a Master’s in Architecture from the University of Illinois. He got his first camera for Christmas when he was 8, but his re-entry into photography came when taking pictures of building sites and architecture for graduate school, remembering after years without a camera the relationship between shutter speed, ISO and aperture.
He spent some formative tween/teen years in the Bay Area but mostly grew up just outside Chicago. He enjoys taking photos of Midwestern architecture of the mid-20th Century, in places like Chicago, Urbana, and Columbus, Indiana. He lives in Champaign with his Italian Greyhound and the record collection he started at 10 but won’t take sides on the debate between 1970s and 1980s music.
Director of Information Technology
Jack started his museum career volunteering in a one-room local historical museum in his hometown. He started working for Spurlock in 1998, performing data entry to support the hectic move from the Museum's original Lincoln Hall location. Jack's role has since evolved, but he continues to work his dream job 20+ years later, learning and finding new things to get excited by on a near-daily basis.
An alum of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Jack manages a small team of undergraduates to run the Museum's daily tech-based operations. When he's not creating databases and videos, building digital content for exhibits and the Museum's website, or researching technology and museum issues, you might find him talking about video games, board games, Japan, or his persnickety cats Brockett and Needles.
Christa is the longest serving member of the Museum staff, starting all the way back in 1991 as a graduate assistant and became the Collections Manager in 1998. A graduate of SUNY Oswego in Anthropology and Museum Studies (undergraduate), and of the University of Illinois in Anthropology (graduate), she handles all aspects of collections management, including collections management policy development, integrated pest management, the monitoring and control of environmental conditions, and the restoration, preservation, storage, security, inventory, shipping, and packing of the collections; Oh my!
Christa enjoys graphic novels, science fiction, board games, yoga, and riding her flamingo-pink bicycle. Christa is prepared, at any moment, to challenge John and assert that 80s music is superior.
Assistant Collections Manager
John joined the Spurlock Museum as a student in 1999, helping to pack and move the artifact collections to our current facility. Since becoming the Assistant Collections Manager in 2003, John supervises the day-to-day logistics of the section, while managing the organization, tracking, and mounting of artifacts in storage and managing the team of students and volunteers who make that possible.
An alum of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the department of Anthropology at University of Illinois, John enjoys using his relentless attention to detail for the general good, and he can be coaxed into singing 70s greatest hits on occasion. When not at work, he can be found at the closest movie theater or Ethiopian restaurant.
Collections and Exhibitions Coordinator
Melissa started working for the Spurlock as a student in 2003 and joined the full time staff in 2007 as the Collections Coordinator. She designs, builds, and installs temporary and rental exhibits with the help of her small team of students and volunteers. An Industrial Design alum from the University of Illinois, Melissa is a bit obsessed with the Guatemala textile collection and is always interested in finding her next cup of coffee.
Collections Storage Coordinator
Gavin started working at the Museum as a volunteer in 2011 and is currently the Storage Coordinator. Gavin's work is a perfect match for his anthropology and history degree from Illinois State University: he is in charge of making sure that all the artifacts are safely stored yet accessible to groups inside and outside the Museum. Gavin tracks and records the condition of all artifacts passing through his realm and cleans them as necessary.
An Urbana native, Gavin enjoys exploring his neighborhood on a bike and his own two feet. His favorite author is Terry Pratchett and he loves reading books in the fantasy genre.