Meet our team

Our team of qualified archaeologists, GPR specialists and administrative support staff have decades of relevant professional experience and local knowledge, as well as a solid reputation with a wide range of proponents, government agencies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.

Our Company Director and Principal Archaeologist, Dr Mary-Jean Sutton has more than twenty years experience on the ground delivering Aboriginal and historical heritage management and archaeology, having successfully delivered hundreds of complex archaeological projects.  Dr Sutton is widely published in academic journals and has been successfully awarded grants for a range of research and collaborative community heritage projects as well as acting as a specialist heritage advisor to major corporations, including in the provision of expert advice and reviews of cultural heritage legislation and policy to academic, commercial and research organisations.

Supporting Dr Sutton, our team of senior archaeologists offer world class services bringing a substantial profile of education, expertise and experiences spanning stone artefact analysis, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, anthropology and geographic information systems, including widespread involvement in archaeological projects locally and across the globe.

Dr Mary-Jean Sutton

Company Director

(BA Hons. Archaeology, University of Sydney; PhD Archaeology, University of Queensland)

Mary-Jean has over twenty years of experience within Aboriginal and historical heritage management and archaeology. She is well published in academic journals and authored, co-authored and managed over 200 archaeological consultancy reports and projects. Mary-Jean’s PhD in archaeology focuses on Aboriginal missions, intangible heritage and historical archaeology.

Mary-Jean maintains affiliations with several professional and academic institutions including the University of Queensland. Mary-Jean is also a recognised professional historian, a Full Member of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc, member of the Specialist Heritage Committee for EIANZ and Fellow of the Australian Anthropological Society. She has been awarded several research grants for research and collaborative community cultural heritage projects in Mapoon in Cape York Queensland, including an Australian Geographic Seed Grant, AIATSIS Research Grant, Ceridwen Indigenous Scholarship, Berndt Postgraduate Research Grant and funding form the Western Cape Community Co-Existence Agreement Trust.

Mary-Jean has managed many complex Aboriginal and Historical Heritage Assessments as part of the Environmental Assessment process for Major State Significant Projects in the mining, infrastructure and residential development sectors and with government agencies. Mary-Jean has experience as a heritage adviser to corporations and has prepared expert advice and reviews of cultural heritage legislation and policy to academic, commercial and research organisations.

She is also experienced in the preparation of relevant permits and consents, test excavations, salvage investigations, due diligence and desktop reviews, management plans, inductions and training packages and consultation. Mary-Jean has extensive experience working with many Aboriginal communities on projects throughout Australia and regularly collaborates on Indigenous community based research projects, particularly in Northern New South Wales, Newcastle, Sydney and Cape York regions.

Dr Emma St Pierre

Principal Archaeologist, GPR Co-ordinator

(BA Hons. Archaeology and Anthropology; PhD Archaeological Science, University of Queensland)

Emma has worked as a Heritage practitioner since 2004, with experience in both Aboriginal and historic heritage, having worked on projects in New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and internationally. Emma has extensive experience undertaking Aboriginal cultural heritage assessments including community consultation, management of large-scale excavation and survey programs, detailed site recording, artefact analysis and production of assessment reports and management plans. Through this experience Emma has developed excellent relationships with statutory agencies and local Aboriginal community groups.

Emma is our GPR co-ordinator and has experience conducting GPR investigations in Queensland and NSW since 2015, with a particular focus on the identification of unmarked graves. She works closely with GPR world expert Prof. Lawrence Conyers and is involved in a number of partnerships with Local Aboriginal Land Councils and community groups for the management of cemeteries and the resting places of their ‘old people’.

Emma has a PhD in Archaeological Science specialising in geochemistry specifically U-series dating, major and trace element analysis and isotope (Sr-Nd-Pb) analysis; palaeoclimatology; and cave survey and excavation. In addition to her experience in Australia, Emma has conducted archaeological consulting and research projects in Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. Emma continues to be involved in international and Australian archaeological research projects and is well published in her field.

Gina Scheer

Principal Archaeologist & Heritage Consultant

BA (Hons) Archaeology University of Sydney (2000) and M Heritage Conservation University of Sydney (2013).

Gina has worked as an archaeologist and a heritage consultant since 2002. Her expertise includes project management, heritage management advice, built heritage assessments and impact statements, conservation management plans, heritage studies and archaeological reports, as well as artefact analysis, historical archaeological assessments and research design reports for State significant projects. Her fieldwork includes excavating and monitoring under Section 60 permit applications for State significant sites.

Her professional background includes managing numbers of cultural heritage and educational projects organised with the University of Sydney and participation in archaeological projects and landscape surveys in Greece and in Cyprus. Prior to commencing as a sub-consultant in 2002, Gina was an administrator at the University of Sydney, as well as with public health organisations and advertising agencies. Through her roles in these diverse agencies, she has gained invaluable experience with communications and with management.

Gina has now consolidated a sound knowledge of relevant State and Commonwealth heritage and conservation legislation and guidelines. She has a demonstrated capacity to provide heritage advice and guidance for a range of private and public clients and to translate for them the complexities of planning and heritage legislation.

Elle Lillis

Senior Archaeologist, GIS Specialist

(BA & Diploma of Languages, University of Newcastle; Master of Archaeological Science, Australian National University)

Elle has worked as an archaeologist since 2015 with experience as a consultant throughout New South Wales and the ACT. She has worked on a diverse range of projects since 2013, her Master of Archaeological Science research was a spatial distribution analysis of Aboriginal sites on the south coast of NSW and she has worked on research projects in Australia, the Pacific and Europe.

As a consultant Elle has experience in Aboriginal and historical archaeology, conducting archaeological survey and excavation, detailed site recording, GIS and mapping and heritage assessment preparation for government agencies and commercial development projects, including state significant infrastructure projects.

Elle has expertise in GIS and planning and has assisted in analysing assemblages of stone artefacts spanning Pleistocene to Holocene occupation from both inland and coastal sites in NSW.
Elle has experience in Aboriginal community consultation and has worked in collaboration with Indigenous communities, stakeholders, statutory agencies and clients in Australia and overseas.

Elaine Lin

Senior Archaeologist, Geoarchaeology Specialist

(Master of Archaeological Science Adv. Hons., Australian National University; BA Hons. Archaeology, University of Sydney)

Elaine has worked as an archaeologist since 2014. She has been involved in numerous Indigenous and historical investigations in New South Wales, ACT and Western Australia. Elaine also has experience working on overseas research projects conducting surveys, excavations, physical anthropological analyses and geoarchaeological analyses. Since 2009, she has worked in places such as Xinjiang, Bulgaria, Mexico, Greece and Vanuatu. Her main scientific specialisation is soil micromorphology; her Masters thesis focused on understanding the development of the earliest rectilinear agricultural ditch networks at Kuk Swamp in Papua New Guinea, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Elaine has experience managing combined Aboriginal and historical archaeological excavation programs in NSW, and over time has developed excellent relationships with local Aboriginal community groups. She specialises in geoarchaeological analysis and interpretation of site formation processes, particularly of Aboriginal sites and cultural landscapes. She is interested in understanding human-environmental interactions in the past and in identifying processes which may have over time impacted on Aboriginal Places and sites.

She also has experience directing large scale excavations of urban settlements and early European ephemeral sites such as homesteads and market gardens. In a consulting capacity, Elaine is accredited to work in the rail corridor, and has experience monitoring and excavating safely around live rail traffic. Elaine is passionate about her work in the cultural heritage sector and aims to help conserve and protect Indigenous and historical sites through the securing of grants and funding, and through the development of inclusive and sustainable conservation management plans for Aboriginal community groups and historical societies.

Julian Travaglia

Senior Archaeologist, Stone Artefact Analysis

(BA Hons. Archaeology, University of Queensland)

Julian has worked as an archaeologist since 2006 and has been involved in a variety of projects that span both Aboriginal and historical archaeology and holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Archaeology from The University of Queensland. Julian has extensive experience producing Aboriginal archaeological assessments, and due diligence reports requiring project management, extensive research, report writing, Aboriginal community liaison, and personnel and fieldwork management.

Julian also has experience in conducting and supervising Aboriginal and historical archaeological surveys, excavations (manual and mechanical) and monitoring programs. Julian has undertaken the detailed recording and analysis of Aboriginal stone tools for significant infrastructure, mining and development projects and produced the corresponding salvage reports.

Julian has also undertaken historical heritage research, heritage searches, fieldwork survey, and reporting requirements for historical heritage assessments. Julian regularly assists in ground-penetrating radar surveys and data collection including projects on unmarked Aboriginal graves in Cape York and Fingal, Queensland and war graves in Papua New Guinea.

Kelly Kent

Office Manager

Kelly joined Virtus Heritage in August 2019.  She has well over 10 years experience as a legal secretary in Brisbane. Kelly is currently obtaining her Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and Accounting. Kelly is assisting in a wide range of Aboriginal cultural heritage and historical archaeological projects including as Consultation Co-ordinator and Head Administrator.

Kelly’s great grandfather Edward Edwards was born in Goodooga, New South Wales and was part of the Muruwari tribe.  She is passionate about working in this role and working with communities to assess, protect and manage their cultural heritage. As Consultation Co-ordinator, Kelly works with other team members to co-ordinate community consultation protocols and documents for our clients and Aboriginal parties and organisations.

In September 2019, Kelly helped Virtus Heritage obtain ISO9001:2015 Certification for the provision of archaeology, cultural heritage, history and geophysics business and consultancy services. Our Quality Management focuses on consistently meeting client requirements and enhancing their satisfaction aligned with the organisation’s purpose, strategic direction, policies and procedures.

Xan Jeffreys

Creative Consultant

Xan is our Creative Consultant, coming from a versed background in Arts & Design, studying a degree at London College of Art UK, she made her way to Australia in 2007 where she is now an Australian citizen.

Xan is managing our branding, graphic design, web design, creative concepts and digital media amongst organising events, presentations, conferences and workshops whilst assisting our archaeologists in the consultation process. Xan presents ideas and concepts for our creative projects, solves problems, consults with our clients and engages with Aboriginal communities to co-create successful, innovative and unique outcomes. 

Xan has a passion for communication and an interest in the social sciences, particularly Psychology and Sociology which has propelled her towards a sound understanding of the diversity of culture and individuals.

Xan has found her niche within Virtus Heritage applying her passion to advocate Aboriginal heritage and culture as a fundamental aggregate to conservation. She aspires that this is expressed though our work in a true and relevant fashion as directed by our Aboriginal affiliates. She works closely with communities and individuals to understand and share with consent, the local community’s artwork, language and stories, through the projects, reports and material that we produce for our clients and for our mission as a whole.

Harrison Rees Parkes

Graduate Geomorphologist, GIS/Spatial Analysis Assistant

Harrison is currently completing his final year of Bachelor of Science at the University of Newcastle, where he is completing a double major in Earth Science and Geography.

Throughout his degree, Harrison has gained experience in environmental impact assessments, fresh-water ecology sampling, and has specialised in environmental GIS and Remote sensing applications. Harrison has gained experience in mapping the impact of sea level rise on coastal communities and infrastructure, shoreface bathymetric profile changes along the NSW coastline, and remote sensing of coastal habitats including mangrove forests and seagrass meadows.

Harrison has a broad range of experience with GIS systems and applications and is passionate about expanding his GIS skills and abilities into the field of heritage consultancy.

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