Team Bios

Staff Bios

Dave Williams

As Nebraska State Archeologist, Dave directs the State Archeology Office; oversees Nebraska’s archeological resources under the Nebraska Archeological Resources Preservation Act and National Historic Preservation Act; assists with the identification, recovery, and repatriation of human skeletal remains and consultation with Native American tribes; supervises cultural resource management projects; and disseminates archeological information to the public. Dave’s cultural resource management experience includes work across the Great Plains, Midwest U.S., Great Basin, Colorado Rockies, and in Oaxaca, Mexico. Prior to joining History Nebraska, he was the Assistant State Archeologist and Contracts Manager for the South Dakota State Historical Society. Dave’s research interests include public archeology, geochemical sourcing analysis, long-distance exchange of materials, and precontact ceramic production. Dave received a BA in Anthropology from the University of South Dakota and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Colorado Boulder.

MaKenzie Coufal

MaKenzie graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 2015 with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Archeology. He began working for History Nebraska as a temporary archeological technician helping to process the NAGPRA collection for repatriation and quickly discovered there was nowhere he would rather work. From his lair in the basement of the Fort Robinson Museum, Coufal dedicates his time to Nebraska Department of Transportation projects in the Panhandle and Sand Hills regions. He is interested in prehistoric archeology as well as ground stone tool and ornament production. Work-related hobbies include pipe carving and Sand Hills floral identification.

Brian Goodrich

Brian’s duties include reviewing projects for the Highway Archeology Program, identifying and evaluating archeologically significant areas in Nebraska and working to preserve and protect those places. He also has the privilege to assist with outreach events like the September Archeology Month Volunteer Dig. Brian received his MA in Anthropology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and BA in History from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. His research interests includes lithic technologies, the Fur Trade Era, and Nebraska archeology.

Edward Harthorn

Architectural historian Edward Harthorn joined History Nebraska from Minnesota, where he previously served as a technical specialist with Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps in Duluth. He received his BA in history from Williams Baptist University in 2016, and his MA in global history from Arkansas State University in 2018. Edward’s outside activities and interests include cemetery restoration, preservation technologies, and maintaining a virtual archive of two municipalities’ historic sources.

Nolan Johnson

Nolan graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2004 with a BS in History and Anthropology. He received an MA in Anthropology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2006. His thesis was on the Beaver Creek Trail Crossing Site, which was a road ranch on the Nebraska City Cut-Off Trail. Johnson has worked at History Nebraska in a variety of positions since 2007 and as an archeologist since 2012. The largest part of his duties is working on Nebraska Department of Transportation projects in the northeast quarter of the state. Other interests include historic archeology, cultural change in Nebraska, and public archeology. Johnson is the President of the Nebraska Association of Professional Archeologists and the Vice-President of the Department of Anthropology Alumni and Friends Advisory Board.

Diane Laffin

As a Preservation Associate for the Highway Cultural Resources Program, Diane Laffin completes Section 106 compliance reports for various statewide Nebraska Department of Transportation projects. She meets and exceeds the Secretary of the Interior’s professional qualifications for history and architectural history. Prior to joining History Nebraska, Diane spent 20 years in the Architecture/Engineering industry (surface transportation). She received her MA in Public History from Loyola University in Chicago and has a BS in Education from the University of Minnesota.

Katie Paitz

Katie serves as the Office Manager for the State Archeology Office/Highway Archeology Program. She manages the program’s project database, organizes and tracks all written/electronic documentation, and assists with field and lab work. She received a BA in Anthropology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Jennifer Banks

Jen helps prepare Section 106 compliance reviews for the Nebraska Department of Transportation as a member of the Highway Archeology Program at History Nebraska. She received her BS from the University of Iowa in 2019 and her MA from Wichita State University in 2022. Jen has worked on a variety of cultural resource management projects throughout Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas. Her research interests include bison hunting toolkits, lithic technologies, and microfossil analysis.

Connect With Us


Nebraska State Archeology Office
5050 N. 32nd Street
Lincoln, NE 68504


State Archeology Office: Dave Williams (402-219-2759)
Highway Archeology Program: Courtney Ziska (402-580-7195)​


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