LHA Staff and Partners


Ethnographer, Tribal Consultation, Community Based Participatory Research

Jessica Yaquinto, M.A., Founder/Principal Investigator

Jessica Yaquinto (formerly Medwied-Savage) has an MA with distinction from Northern Arizona University in Applied Socio-Cultural Anthropology and a B.A. with honors from the University of Arizona in Anthropology and Spanish (Portuguese emphasis). Her Master’s thesis focused on improving federal-tribal consultation using Grand Canyon National Park’s tribal and cultural resource programs as a case study. 

Jessica has worked in the field of Applied Cultural Anthropology for over a decade. During this time she conducted ethnographic and tribal consultation work through the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park, Northern Arizona University, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, and Dominguez Anthropological Research Group. She has worked with over 45 tribes across the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. She has also worked with Hispanic communities in Arizona, Colorado, Panama, Uruguay, Spain, and Mexico in both English and Spanish. The majority of her projects were federally funded and revolved around NHPA, NAGPRA, and NEPA compliance. The remaining studies focused on health disparities and community development.   

Jessica is also a NOLS WMI certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR). She believes the safety of all fieldwork participants needs to be the top priority.


Ethnographer, Tribal Consultation

Kathleen Van Vlack, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Dr. Van Vlack is an applied cultural anthropologist specializing in Native North America and the Caribbean. She received her PhD from the University of Arizona in 2012 where she remained for four years following as a Post-doctoral Research Associate. Over the past fourteen years she has worked with 32 tribes across the U.S. Southwest, Great Basin, Midwest, and California, as well as people of the Caribbean. 

She is currently the Past President of the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology and the Editor in Chief of The Applied Anthropologist. She has received numerous research and travel grants, including the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund for Dissertation Research. In 2009, she was awarded The Friedl and Martha Lang Student Award by the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology. 

Her research interests include: Climate Change and Impacts on Indigenous Communities, Heritage Management, Cultural Landscapes, Resilience, Community Based Resource Management with Native Americans and people of the Caribbean, the Social Impacts of Environmental Policy in North America, and Cultural Resource Management. 


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Sean O'Meara, M.A., Research Associate

Sean is an ethnographer, ethnobotanist, and historian with a background in Native American consultation, natural and cultural resource projects, archival research, and ethnic affiliation research. With over ten years of experience, Sean has worked with over 30 tribes on federally-funded projects in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. Sean received his BA in History and his MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona. As a graduate student he served as a research intern with the Jicarilla Apache Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Office, conducting ethnographic interviews with tribal elders on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. 

With a background in Native American consultation and archival research, Sean has participated in ethnographic and ethnobotanical fieldwork on federal and tribal lands and has been a contributing author on numerous reports for the National Park Service and the US Air Force. In addition to his ethnographic work, Sean’s professional background working in horticulture, agriculture, and as a certified arborist support his work documenting ethnobiological and natural resources information. Sean is also a former AmeriCorps volunteer, where he served as an educator and facilitator of a youth agriculture program. Sean also received a graduate certificate in in the  Administration and Management of Native American Natural Resources. Sean is a member of the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology, the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Society of Ethnobiology. He is currently permitted as a Cultural Anthropologist through the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division.


Ethnographer, Digital Storytelling

Chelsea Kuiper, M.A., Research Associate

Chelsea has an M.A. with distinction in Applied Socio-cultural Anthropology from Northern Arizona University and a B.A. with honors in Anthropology from Colorado College. She has been working as an Applied Cultural Anthropologist since 2010. Her research interests include oral histories, digital storytelling, health disparities, and community organizing.