Niya Bates is Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life at Monticello and will divide her time between the International Center for Jefferson Studies and Education and Visitor Programs (EVP) departments. She will oversee the Getting Word African American Oral History Project, launch new onsite and offsite engagement initiatives with descendants and local African American communities, contribute new research on African American life at Monticello, help provide EVP guide training and education, and assist in developing EVP programming for the mountaintop.
Christa Dierksheide is an assistant professor of History at the University of Missouri and specializes in the history of plantations in the Age of Revolutions, with a focus on Jefferson. In her capacity as Historian at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, she conceptualized and wrote exhibitions for Monticello, including “The Boisterous Sea of Liberty” and “The Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row at Monticello.” She is also co-author of “Thomas Jefferson’s Worlds,” the introductory film at Monticello and supervised the Getting Word African American Oral History Project at Monticello.
Elgin Cleckley is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Design Thinking at the University of Virginia, School of Architecture. Elgin teaches Design Thinking studios and foundation courses at the School of Architecture, with appointment in the Curry School of Education and the School of Nursing. Formerly the 3D Group Leader and Design Coordinator at the Ontario Science Centre, Elgin is currently developing an exhibition on sites of African-American history at UVA.
Bill Ferster is on the faculty at the University of Virginia with a joint appointment with the Center for Technology and Teacher Education (CTTE) at the Curry School of Education, and the Science, Humanities and Arts Network of Technological Initiatives (SHANTI) at the College of Arts and Sciences, where he directs the VisualEyes Project which helps faculty and students to develop interactive visualizations using VisualEyes, and teaches undergraduate classes in the digital humanities.
Gardiner Hallock is the Interim Director of Restoration at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Currently he is responsible for the preservation and restoration of Monticello’s historic buildings and the digital and physical recreations of the slave dwellings, workshops, and white workmen’s housing that were once found along Mulberry Row, the Monticello plantation’s main street.
Emilie Johnson is an Assistant Curator at Monticello. Emilie’s research focuses on the architecture and material culture of plantations, using spaces and objects to better understand how people conducted their lives in the past. At Monticello, she concentrates on the lived experiences of women and enslaved people, with a particular interest in those who occupied the house as dependents.
J. Jefferson Looney is the Series Editor for The Retirement Series which documents Jefferson’s written legacy between his return to private life on 4 March 1809 and his death on 4 July 1826. Publication in 2004 of the first of an estimated twenty-three volumes in the Retirement Series represents a milestone in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, the definitive edition of the papers of the author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States.
Travis McDonald is the Director of Architectural Restoration at Poplar Forest. Under his leadership, the restoration of Mr. Jefferson’s private retreat is acknowledged to be one of the most authentic restoration projects in the country. The restoration as won many accolades, including the Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Louis Nelson is a Professor of Architectural History at the School of Architecture and Associate Provost for Outreach at the University of Virginia. He teaches courses in American architecture specializing in colonial and early national architecture, vernacular architecture, art and architecture of the American South, and theories and practices of sacred space. Nelson’s teaching and research focus on the close examination of evidence-both material and textual-as a means of interrogating the ways architecture shapes the human experience.
Fraser Neiman is director of archaeology at Monticello and lecturer in the Departments of Anthropology and Architectural History at the University of Virginia, where he teaches courses in archaeology and quantitative methods. Neiman’s Monticello research is structured around three ongoing initiatives: The Plantation Archaeological Survey, the Plantation Landscape History Initiative, and the Quarter-Farm Household Archaeology Initiative. Monticello’s archaeology department is also home to the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS), which is a collaborative experiment in the use of internet technologies to promote comparative, quantitative, and synthetic study of archaeological data from sites occupied by enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Chesapeake, Carolinas, and the Caribbean. DAACS is supported by Monticello and a series of major grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Peter Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor Emeritus in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia and Senior Research Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies (Monticello). His recent work on Thomas Jefferson’s political thought, culminating in Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (University Press of Virginia, 2000) and The Mind of Thomas Jefferson (2007, also Virginia), grows out of earlier studies on the history of American federalism, foreign policy, and political economy. He is now collaborating with Annette Gordon-Reed on “Most Blessed of Patriarchs”: The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson (forthcoming from Norton). Onuf was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014.
Lisa Russ Spaar is professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. A widely published poet, Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of many collections of poetry and the editor of Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poems on Jefferson. Among numerous awards, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Arts in 2010.
Henry Wiencek, the author of numerous books, has won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award in Biography, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History, and the Best Book Award from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. His latest work, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, was chosen by Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post as one of the best books of 2012. He has been awarded fellowships at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the International Center for Jefferson Studies, and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, where he was the inaugural Patrick Henry Writing Fellow. He is currently at work on a joint biography of Stanford White and Augustus Saint-Gaudens.