We are this years' NAS Student Ambassador team, a collection of student archaeologists from across the world with a shared passion for maritime archaeology. By volunteering in this role we aim to share our own love of maritime archaeology with others and get as many student archaeologists as possible to take advantage of the fantastic opportunities NAS has to offer. 

As a team we've been through various stages of university education, so we can offer an insight to anyone considering studying archaeology and heritage. We're also here to give advice on applying to universities, searching for volunteer work, networking as a student archaeologist, how to get the most out of your course or even just to provide a student perspective on things!

You can get in touch with us via email: [email protected]

Scroll down to learn more about us.


My name is Deanna Cunningham and I am a Third Year Undergraduate studying for my BA in Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Southampton. I'm originally from the small military town of Aldershot and I also have a part-time job at Frimley Park hospital where I helped with the COVID-19 response. During the summer lockdown period, I sought to find some learning opportunities to fill up my time and I subsequently got more involved with the NAS. My particular interest in Maritime Archaeology blossomed when I took a module during my Second Year of University and began learning to dive.  I am now hoping to pursue my masters in archaeology and the NAS has really helped me to develop my skills and knowledge. I can only encourage more students and budding maritime archaeologists to get involved.

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I'm Mercedes (Sadie) Blancaflor, a third-year undergraduate at Stanford University studying anthropology and earth systems. I'm interested in how human-environmental societal interactions have shifted over time from an  archeological lens, more broadly in the present context of anthropogenic climate change. In addition to my role as NAS Student Ambassador, I co-direct Baole an organization tackling sustainable food adoption from a cultural lens. During my spare time, you'll find me playing the mellophone in the Stanford Marching Band or SCUBA diving in Monterrey! 

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Hi, I’m Emily a master’s student studying Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton. Having just finished my undergraduate studies at the University of Glasgow I’m looking forward to my role as a student ambassador for NAS. Throughout this year I hope to raise an awareness for the achievements of female maritime archaeologists as well as encouraging accessibility within the field, particularly for those who may not usually have the opportunity. In my spare time I’m an avid open water, wild swimmer and competitive swimmers. This coupled with my time spent as an army reservist (2017-2020) makes me very determined and driven.

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Heya, I'm James MacDonell and I'm an MA Maritime Archaeology student at the University of Southampton. Originally an ancient historian, over the course of my degree I became increasingly interested in maritime archaeology. I’m currently interested in understanding and visualising how experience provided an advantage in trireme combat, but I’m also interested in a wide range of maritime related topics such as WWII intertidal archaeology, wreck identification and understanding the lives and skill of ancient seafarers. Through the student ambassador role, I’m hoping to be able to inspire as many people as possible who were like me and undecided whether to pursue maritime archaeology as well as raise awareness for the importance of recording our maritime heritage that is at risk from rising sea lives and climate change. In my spare time I’m an avid windsurfer and amateur diver hoping to be able to finally dive some wrecks in the coming year! 

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A cum laude graduate of College of Charleston, Alicia Johnson finished both an AB in History and a BA in Classics. Following her dreams to see the world, she explored the Caribbean’s azure waters and beckoning coves on a 1976 37’ Gulfstar monohull. In addition to live-aboard cruising, Alicia then ran a 60’ charter yacht for several seasons in the Virgin Islands. The unique Below Decks-esque career allowed her to pair marketing, tour guiding, culinary, and entertaining skills to lucrative use.

However, the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria forced an abrupt relocation to the Philippines and Indonesia to pursue diving and underwater photography to complement her graduate studies. This career shift proved to be most fortuitous and she happily embraces the multi-dimensional careers which brought her to the maritime archaeology field.

As of now, Alicia is currently finishing her masters at the Alexandria Centre for Maritime Archaeology in Egypt and she aspires to continue with a PhD program. Alicia’s passions include using photography and videography with public outreach to increase the public’s engagement and interest in cultural heritage. Follow her Aloof Nerd blog on social media to see more about life in Egypt as a maritime archaeologist.

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To find out more about the NAS student ambassador scheme, or to learn more about applying to join, click here