Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, New Mexico State University
Ph.D., M.A. Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque,
B.A., Anthropology, Mount Holyoke College,
Dr. O’Leary had a teaching career at New Mexico State University in Anthropology. From 2003 to 2011, she was appointed by the Governor to the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee. She served as an expert witness in federal court in multiple legal cases and has broad experience in archaeology and cultural anthropology, concentrated in New Mexico, Texas, and Yukon, Canada.
For the last 19 years Dr. O’Leary has been involved with the cultural heritage of outer space and the Moon and is one of the creators of the field of Space Archaeology and Heritage. With a grant from the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NASA), she investigated the archaeological assemblage and the international heritage status of the Apollo 11 Tranquility Base site on the Moon. In 2010, she and colleagues successfully nominated objects and structures at the Tranquility Base site to the State Registers of Cultural Properties in both California and New Mexico. She was invited by NASA to work with a team of scientists to produce “NASA’s Recommendations to Space-Faring Entities: How to Protect and Preserve the Historic and Scientific Value of U.S. Government Lunar Artifacts” (2011). In 2012, she received an award from NASA for that work.
Her books include: (2017) The Final Mission: Preserving NASA’s Apollo Sites, (with co-authors L.Westwood and M.W. Donaldson, University Press of Florida.); (2015) The Archaeology and Heritage of the Human Movement into Space (with co-editor, P.J. Capelotti, Springer International Press); and (2009) The Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology and Heritage (with co-editor A. Darrin, CRC Taylor and Francis Press). She is on the editorial board for Springer International Publishing Space & Society Series. Dr. O’Leary has chaired five international symposia on Space Archaeology and Heritage and is a member of the World Archaeological Congress Space Heritage Task Force, and is on the advisory boards for METI and For All Moonkind.
A pioneer in this evolving field,she has been interviewed by international media, including among others: Smithsonian, National Geographic, New York Times, LA Times, NPR, Deutsche Radio, Sunlife (China), USA Today, Geo, Scientific American, Ars Techica, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She has written articles for BBC, Antiquity, and the Washington Post.