Staff – SC Institute of Archeology and Anthropology



James D. Spirek–Status underwater archaeologist

Head of the Maritime Research Division, Jim has been there since 1996 and in his current role since 2012, his responsibilities include the management and study of the maritime archaeological heritage residing in the lakes, rivers and coastal waters of North Carolina. South. These tasks include carrying out archaeological research, overseeing regulatory and legislative mandates, and issuing exclusive licenses. Research interests include Civil War naval operations, 16th century shipbuilding and navigation, remote sensing operations, and public access to submerged maritime resources. Prior to joining the Institute, Jim spent three and a half years locating and recoshipwrecks in Pensacola Bay, Florida. Research projects and contracts have taken him to travel American and international waters to document sites ranging from 16th century Spanish wrecks to Great Lakes bulk carriers. He received his MA in Maritime History and Nautical Archeology from East Carolina University in 1993 and a BA in History from George Mason University in 1987.


Athena Van Overschelde–Underwater archaeologist

Athena strives to plan and conduct underwater archaeological research, develop public awareness offerings, and administer the review and compliance of development projects. Athena grew up in Texas and received a BA in History and a BA in Anthropology from Texas State University. While in the state of Texas, she took a science diving course and fell in love with underwater archeology. After graduation, Athena was accepted for the Masters of Professional Science program in Underwater Archeology at Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami and graduated in 2020. Athena has conducted fieldwork in Biscayne National Park, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, St. George’s Caye, Belize, and Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, Mexico. Her thesis research produced extensive historical research on the ships of the Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park, and she assisted in the development of interpretive educational and public awareness materials for use by visitors. She is thrilled to be a part of the SCIAA team and looks forward to protecting and preserving South Carolina’s maritime cultural history.


Does Nassif–Underwater archaeologist

Will handles the processing of recreation licenses for the division, conducts site and collection assessments statewide, and participates in underwater archaeological projects. He was born in Durham, North Carolina and spent most of his childhood between there and Cary, North Carolina. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in Appalachian State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in accounting. He returned to the Triangle and taught at Athens Drive High School for two years, where he also coached the school’s football and lacrosse teams. Drawing on his childhood love for the rivers and coastline of North Carolina, he returned to higher education as a student in the Maritime Studies program at East Carolina University. His dissertation research on the historic Pamlico River port in Washington aimed to examine the relationship between port infrastructure technology and economic trends. In addition to his excursions to the Pamlico River, he conducted maritime archaeological studies at several other sites in the Tar / Pamlico River, shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina, military equipment in the Marshall Islands, and land studies. on the Outer Banks. He looks forward to protecting South Carolina’s maritime heritage.


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