Introducing TARL’s Staff

Associate Director of TARL: Jonathan Jarvis

Jonathan Jarvis is a native Texan.  His research interests span the landscapes and cultures of Texas from the prehistoric past to the present day.  As a Cultural Resource Management archeologist he has authored or co-authored several reports of investigations and participated in a variety of field projects.  Currently he serves as TARL’s Associate Director and teaches a course for the Department of Anthropology.

Jonathan Jarvis. Image courtesy of Dr. Michael Strutt, TPWD.



Editor, Texas Beyond History: Susan Dial

My work at TARL over the past 25 years has led me in many directions, from doing research on historic and prehistoric sites, analyzing chipped-stone stone tools for projects such as Wilson-Leonard, and surveying a pristine 7,000-acre ranch on the headwaters of Barton Creek. By far the most fulfilling job, however, has been working on Texas Beyond History (TBH), TARL’s virtual museum of cultural heritage.

In 2001 Steve Black and I began the website as a means of sharing TARL’s remarkable trove of treasures—collections, records, and knowledge—with Texas and the world.  We did it on the proverbial “wing and a prayer,” sprinkled with a liberal dose of insanity. We had no idea what we were getting into when we committed to creating the website,  20 online exhibits and dozens of other features in less than a year’s time in order to win several major grants.  Had we known then what was involved (and how little we knew about websites), we would never have begun. As it developed, conflicts with other projects kept us from beginning in earnest until halfway through that crucial year. But with the help of a very creative student web developer, Meg Kemp, along with all the help we could beg from our accomplished spouses (avocational historian Steve Dial and education professor Mary Black), we succeeded, and only a month past our grant deadline. Our due date to have the website up and running, hosted on a UT server, was September 15, 2001. Even the horror of 9-11 did not keep us from trying to make that deadline.

Since that first year, we have created more than 75 online exhibits on some of the state’s most significant sites, spanning some 13,000 years of cultural history. Both Steve Black and I have logged thousands of miles, traveling the state to visit sites and interview archeologists and other researchers about their work.  We have written many more successful grants and begged for money from donors. Dozens of other archeologists, students, and staff members, have joined us in the effort, most notably web developer/archeologist Heather Smith.  Along the way, TBH has won national recognition, including the 2008 Award for Excellence in Public Education from the Society for American Archaeology.

I now serve as lead editor of the website, managing the operations while researching and writing new exhibits. My work continues to be a happy blend of my archeological experience (I hold an MA in anthropology from The University of Texas at Austin) with skills I gained in another lifetime as a newspaper reporter.  At TARL, there are hundreds of collections to be studied and many more stories to be told. It’s a very good gig.

Susan Dial researching content for the ongoing updates to the Texas Beyond History website; TARL at UT Austin, 2015.
Susan Dial researching content for the ongoing updates to the Texas Beyond History website; TARL at UT Austin, 2015.

The remarkable and widely-lauded result of Susan’s ongoing efforts to represent Texas history through interactive, educational and virtual exhibits can be found here:


Collections & Records Registrar: Rosario Caserez

Hi, my name is Rosario Casarez, I’m the Registrar for the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory.  I receive and evaluate all of the project records submitted to TARL for curation.  A few of my duties involve approving or denying requests for housing, scheduling submissions, checking submitted records for compliance with TARL housing standards and answering many, many questions about those standards.  Though I’ve had many different duties during my time here, most of it has been spent working on the care and cataloging of our significant records archive.  I have B.A.’s in Archeological Studies and Art History and I’ve worked at TARL long enough that I find notations I’ve made in the files that date to the late 70’s.  This is why I sometimes feel like this…


This is not actually Rosario at TARL, UT Austin 2015. ...and we only use medical-grade, archival-quality stockinette whenever we decide to mummify staff, not the dirty bandages in the photograph of the not-Rosario-mummy. We get an institutional discount through Gaylord.
This is not actually Rosario at TARL, UT Austin 2015. …and we only use medical-grade, archival-quality stockinette whenever we decide to mummify staff, not the dirty bandages in the photograph of the not-Rosario-mummy. We get an institutional discount through Gaylord.


Though I’m mostly doing this…

Rosario can be found bravely wading  through decades worth of registration and accession files in her office. Like Jean, she also mentors students who work or volunteer with her in TARL records.



Business Manager & Executive Assistant: Diane Ruetz

In her own words: I have worked at The University of Texas for 27 years, first at the Bureau of Economic Geology and then short stints at the Texas Union and the Office of the Vice President for Research before finally finding a home here at TARL where I have been for the past 17 years. I knew early on that I was in the right place when the Director called one afternoon and asked me to remind the Head of Collections to put the mummy away!

Many of you may have heard my voice as I am usually the one you talk to first when you call.

As the Business Manager and Executive Assistant I am responsible for keeping TARL running day-to-day so that the true archeologists can concentrate on taking care of the business of archeology! I make sure everyone gets paid on time, the money gets into the bank and the bills get paid. I am also the interface between TARL and UT administrative offices; working to make sure TARL is in compliance with all the rules and regulations that go along with being a department of an institution of higher education. This is always challenging as the rules seem to change just when I think I know all the answers!

I am a native Austinite and my life seems to have been intertwined with UT for as long as I can remember. As a youngster, I remember my parents bringing me to UT on lazy afternoons to feed the squirrels and watch the turtles in the turtle pond. As a wide-eyed Freshman I remember the freedom of going to classes at UT filled with the wonder that I was responsible for managing my own time and could sit and watch the turtles in the turtle pond as long as I wanted, so long as I made it to class on time! As a young parent, I brought my children to UT to wander the grounds and visit the turtle pond.  Now, as a grandmother, I get to bring my grandchildren to UT and watch their excitement as they visit that same turtle pond.

It’s been a long and rewarding relationship and I’m so very proud to be a part of UT and especially a part of the best archeological facility ever, the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory

Diane Ruetz, Business Manager at TARL.
Diane Ruetz, Business Manager, TARL at UT Austin, 2015.
Diane’s business abilities are eclipsed only by the size of her heart. She volunteers several evenings a week at her local animal shelter where her co-volunteers let her walk the big, unruly dogs which are prone to drooling and stamping you with muddy paw prints. Such is the great amount of respect we have for her abilities.




Head of Collections: Marybeth Tomka

We are pleased to announce that Marybeth Tomka joined the staff of the TARL in July 2014 as the Head of Collections. Marybeth received her BA and MA from UT-Austin, and feels like she has come home to TARL. Marybeth has over 30 years of professional experience in the field of cultural resource management. She has experience working in both the private and public sector, has completed analyses of lithic and ceramic materials, made contributions to archaeological reports, participated as the supervisor of archaeological lab and field crews, and served as a project manager while in the private sector.

She spent six years with TRC, six years with TPWD, and as a work study and later employee at TARL’s former contracting arm. She comes to us from the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) staff where from July 2000-July 2014, Marybeth served in two major roles as the laboratory director for contract projects and as curator. She was the driving force to CAR’s 2006 acknowledgement as a THC certified repository coming as only the second institution to be certified. She also served as the technical lead for outreach field schools work with community volunteers at the National Park Service’s Spanish Colonial site of Rancho de Las Cabras in Wilson County from 2007 through 2012 and taught UTSA’s field school in 2008 and 2010. As an undergraduate, and then graduate student, Marybeth was a lab technician for the WS Ranch Project of the Anthropology Department under Jim Neely, and as a teacher’s assistant and area supervisor for the University of Texas (Austin) field school as part of her Master’s thesis research. Her research focused on the great kiva complex.

Marybeth’s interests are focused in the management of archaeological records and collections within the context of state and federal laws and sound museum practice. This interest as well as database administration, led her to pursue additional training and in June 2012, she received her Professional Certification in Collections Management from the University of Victoria (UVic).

Already somewhat versed in TARL’s massive collections, Marybeth is happily pursuing taking TARL into the 21st century with planned projects in collections care, collections management, and database construction management. She will also be actively recruiting volunteers as we move forward.

Follow the blog and/or subscribe to the Friends of TARL Newsletter to keep track of Marybeth’s projects, her discoveries in TARL’s collections and her own blog entries as she gathers the reins and guides TARL’s collections along an exciting trajectory into the future.

Marybeth Tomka, Head of Collections, TARL at UT Austin, 2015.
Marybeth Tomka, Head of Collections. TARL at UT Austin, 2015.





5 thoughts on “Introducing TARL’s Staff”

  1. Good evening,
    My name is Willie Cook. I am a Border Patrol Agent stationed down in Laredo. I am also a student enrolled online at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). This semester I am taking World Prehistory and Archaeology, and one of my assignments is to visit an excavation site that is open to the public. After my visit, I am to write a report assessing public outreach and details of the site based on what I have learned in the class. This my first option and it may not be possible due to my work schedule. My second, more reasonable, option is to contact someone that has worked at a site and discuss public outreach. Below are the instructions from my syllabus. Is there anyone that can help me with this?

    “Contact the archaeologist(s) who writes/wrote the blog or website you chose. Ask the archaeologist about the public outreach (or lack thereof) featured on the website and the issues addressed through that public outreach. If you receive a response, include relevant information in your presentation and submit a copy of the email to the instructor. Remember to explain who you are and write clearly and professionally when composing your email.”

  2. Hello,
    My name is Nadine Girard I work for the Musée des Confluences in Lyon/France :
    For an exhibition that we are currently preparing dedicated to flies, mosquitoes,…we are looking for a photo
    of Navajo dry sand painting which would represent « Big Fly ».
    Do you have in yours collections this kind of photo, or do you know where I could find one ?
    I thank you very much in advance for the help you could give me in this research.
    Best regards.

    Nadine GIRARD
    Service des Expositions
    Chargée d’études | musée des Confluences
    Tél. +33 (0)4 28 38 12 28 | +33 (0)6 75 39 15 82
    86 quai Perrache | CS 30180 | 69285 Lyon cedex 02

    1. Good afternoon Ms. Girard,

      Thank you for your interest in our collections. Our Head of Collections will be contacting you shortly about your request. TARL is happy to provide access to our Photographic Archives to museums. We just ask that you please credit us and provide any site information or photo numbers in that citation for the benefit of other interested parties. Thank you!

  3. I have inherited a half dozen or so Navajo sand paintings by Fred Stevens (Grey Squirrel), his son Thunder and daughter in law. My parents acquired them in the 60’s while they were school teachers on the reservation in Chinle, AZ. I would like to find them an appropriate and fitting home. Can you put me in contact with someone please?

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