Rhonda L. Smith holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Tulane University, where she graduated with honors and was named the Arden King Outstanding Student in Anthropology for 1990. While attending Tulane University, Smith was employed as Laboratory Technician for the Center for Archaeology from 1987-1990. In addition, she did lab work for the 1986 New Orleans Garbage Project and for the Tulane Archaeological field school in Antigua, West Indies. Ms. Smith received a Master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Georgia in 1996. While at the University of Georgia, Ms. Smith worked in the Zooarchaeology Lab under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Reitz, where she continued to develop her writing and leadership skills. Her lab duties included sorting, identifying, and analyzing vertebrate fauna material from numerous archaeological sites. She worked with vertebrate faunal collections from throughout the Southeast US, including Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia.
Ms. Smith was originally employed full-time at ESI from 1990-1992. Initially, she served as Laboratory Supervisor, overseeing two to four laboratory aids in processing artifacts and preparing them for permanent curation. She requested a field position in 1991 and went on to serve as Crew Chief for various projects throughout Louisiana. Ms. Smith entered graduate school in 1992. She continued working at ESI during the summers while in school. Ms. Smith rejoined the ESI staff full-time in 1995. Since that time, she has served as Project Manager for numerous Phase I surveys, Phase II testing, and Data Recovery excavations. She has authored or co-authored more than 165 cultural resources reports and papers. Ms. Smith has been responsible for training new Project Managers, Assistant Project Managers, and many field personnel hired at ESI. It is also her responsibility to edit the content of many of the cultural resources reports produced by ESI. Ms. Smith is RPA certified. She meets/ exceeds the standards for professional archaeologist as established by the Secretary of Interior (SOI). She has completed both the Advisory Council’s Section 106 Review Course and the National Highway Institute’s NEPA and Transportation Decision Making training. She is fully familiar with the cultural resources compliance requirements (generally Section 106 of the NHPA) of federal agencies including USACE, FERC, FCC, FHWA, FTA, and BRAC. She has prepared appropriate sections for various environmental documents (EA and EIS) and has drafted effective MOA.
Ms. Smith has served as a Project Manager/Zooarchaeologist at ESI for more than 17 years. For eleven of those years she has served as a Senior Project Manager. She has been employed in southeastern archaeology for 22 years. Ms. Smith has extensive survey and NRHP testing experience, particularly at sites across the Gulf Coastal Plain. Although she has worked on numerous historic sites, her specialty and preference is prehistoric sites throughout the Louisiana coastal plain. Her interest lies in food procurement strategies in marsh and swamp environments. This has led her to examine the complex relationship among environmental constraints, settlement patterns and seasonal population movement, division of labor, and the development of social complexity in the absence of agriculture. She has investigated more than 100 sites in the marshes and swamps of south Louisiana. Through these investigations she has an increased understanding of the complex geomorphology of the Mississippi River Deltaic Plain and the environmental restrictions under which human settlement occurred prior to the advent of modern levees and channelization. In the wake of the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, she used her knowledge of prehistoric sites in south Louisiana to aid in the recovery efforts. She revisited sites, helped develop site protection strategies, and aided in the delineation of high probability areas for undocumented resources. Most recently, she participated in the excavations at 16JE11, an intact shell midden that has subsided below the waters of Bayou Dupont. She also performed the analysis of the vertebrate faunal assemblage from 16JE11. She has added the results of this research to a growing body of vertebrate faunal data from delta sites.
Ms. Smith has managed or supervised numerous projects for the Louisiana and Mississippi Departments of Transportation. These include the investigations of the proposed alternatives for Interstate 49 South, Bush to Interstate 12 corridor, LA 1, SR 601, SR53, SR9, and the Beach Blvd Restoration Project and the CSX corridor. She is currently serving as Project Manager for the Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) proposed Canal Boulevard Streetcar Terminal project. The proposed terminal will be constructed at the site of Charity Hospital Cemetery No. 2(16OR108), which was in operation between 1849 and 1910. ESI undertook limited testing at 16OR108 to confirm the presence of intact burials.
Ms. Smith was instrumental in the development of the research design for archeological mitigation and burial removal. She prepared the first draft of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between RTA, the Federal Transit Authority (FTA), and the LA SHPO.
Senior Project Manager
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