Zachary Francis-Hapner


Boozhoo, biindigeken. Welcome to the personal website for Zach Francis. This page contains my academic and professional experiences, as well as my current digital projects. I named this site after Miskogwan, the Ojibwe word for Red Feather, which was the name given to me in my naming ceremony. Being anishinaabe is an important part of my identity. Growing up in western Grand Rapids, however, I never felt like a "real Indian". I attended private catholic school where my brother and I were known as the Indian kids, and yet Anishinaabe culture, language, and history were never emphasized in our day-to-day lives. This is what inspired me to get involved in archaeology and the digital humanities, where I hope to make Indigenous perspectives, knowledge, and cultural heritage more accessible to people like me who want to know more about what it means to be an indigenous person in America.

Core Experiences

Graduate Research Assistant

Lab for the Education and Advancement of Digital Research

LEADR is a collaboration between the history and anthropology departments at Michigan State University which strives to help faculty, undergraduates and graduate students develop digital research projects. As a member of the LEADR staff, I have helped develop lesson plans, created asynchronous learning materials for digital tools, led guest lectures, and assisted students in the development of their digital research projects. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I also helped with the day to day operations of the lab.

Fall 2019 - Spring 2021

Technical Writer


Kora is an online content managment system that I used to build my digital database project. Under the supervision of Dr. Ethan Watrall, I worked as part of a team to write the technical documentation for Kora with the goal of providing useful descriptions of the handling, functionality and overall architecture of Kora.

November 2019 - April 2020

Digital Humanities Fellow

Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative

I have recieved two CHI Fellowships while attending Michigan State University. These year long fellowships seek to equip graduate students with the skills and experience necessary for thoughtfully applying digital methods and computational approaches to cultural heritage materials, collections, data, challenges and questions. My first CHI fellowship project was the development of a metadata scheme, which could be used to build a database for organizing archaeological mateirals curated by the MSU anthroplogy department. My second CHI project built an online, dynamic website which can display data from a Kora repository.

Fall 2018 - Spring 2020

Museum Research Assistant

MSU Anthropology Department

During my time as a museum research assistant, I spent time cataloguing and digitizing archaeological collections curated by the MSU anthropology department. This largely involved artifact photography and document scanning, though I do have a little bit of experiance with 3D modeling. My time digitizing materials has shown me how much effort is necessary to properly and meaningfully digitize cultural heritage materials. I have also had to grapple with the question of what is appropriate to digitize and display on the open web. For this reason, the addition of other artifacts to my online museum collections database has been postponed until I can meaningfully address this issue.

Fall 2018 - Spring 2019


MSU | Winsay, Inc | Verteba Cave | GVSU

I have extensive experience surveying, excavating, and processing cultural heritage materials. My first experiance was at a Grand Valley State University field School in 2014, where my class performed cultural resource managment for local sites in the area. For several years afterwards, I was privelaged enough to participate in archaeological excavations at Verteba Cave, located in Ukraine. I spent multiple summers and a winter hauling buckets of dirt out of a prolific cave dense with cultural materials. Before beginning graduate school in 2017, I also participated in cultural resource managment in Isabella County through a temporary contract with Winsay, Inc. In this project, I worked with several other archeaologists under Dr. Misty Jackson to survey a large deer hunting park using shovel test pits. While at MSU, I have participated in the campus archaeology program, which seeks to manage the cultural resouces on campus.

August 2014 - Present


Michigan State University

Doctoral Student
August 2017 - Present

Grand Valley State University

Bachelor of Science
April 2015

Digital Skills and Tools

Programming and Markup Languages
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • PHP
  • Markdown
Content Managment
Data Analysis & Visualization
Project and Research Managment
Audiovisual Editing
Photogrammetry (3D modeling)

Digital Projects

Classroom Projects

These are some of the projects that I helped contribute to as a graduate student in LEADR. I created lessons plans, led workshops, and helped students with their contributions to the class projects shown below. Professors provided the subject and structure, LEADR provided the site and digital expertise, and students provided the content.

Personal Projects

These are projects in various stages of development that are entirely being developed by me.

Awards & Certifications

  • Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship Program (2019 & 2020 academic year)
  • Research Scholars Award form the College of Social Science (2018)
  • Michigan State University Enrichment Fellowship (2017 - 2022)
  • Certified in Chemical Hygiene, Laboratory Safety and Hazardous Waste Removal
  • Lambda Alpha National Honors Society