Another lovely landscape from the Blue Mountains. CC-BY 2014 FAIMS Project

About the FAIMS Project

The Field Acquired Information Management Systems Project builds tools for digital data collection in the field, and online processing and archiving of the resulting data. Project staff also advise researchers concerning the development of data management strategies that meet the requirements of major grant schemes and improve research outcomes.

The FAIMS project launched in June 2012, funded by the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources program. FAIMS developed a mobile, offline, multi-user collection platform for structured, free-text, geospatial, and multimedia data. The project also supported enhancements to the Heurist online data refinement and analysis service developed at the University of Sydney, and established an Australian implementation of the Digital Archaeological Record, an online data archive developed by Digital Antiquity (USA).

Current operations are funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities grant. During 2014-2016, FAIMS is supporting field deployments at partner institutions. Experience gained from these deployments is being used to improve the mobile data collection platform.

This project is led by Macquarie University in collaboration with ten Australian and overseas university partners.

The FAIMS Team


Dr Shawn Ross

  • Project Co-Director
  • Associate Professor, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations, Ancient History Department, Macquarie University
  • Deputy Director, Big History Institute, Macquarie University

Shawn Ross (Ph.D. University of Washington, 2001) is currently an Associate Professor of History and Archaeology and Deputy Director of the Big History Institute at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. A/Prof Rossʼs research interests include the history and archaeology of pre-Classical Greece, oral tradition as history (especially Homer and Hesiod), the archaeology of the Balkans (especially Thrace), Greece in its wider Mediterranean and Balkan context, and the application of information technology to the humanities. Since 2009, the focus of A/Prof Rossʼs work has shifted to fundamental archaeological research in Bulgaria. He is a Research Associate at the American Research Center in Sofia, Bulgaria, and supervises the Tundzha Regional Archaeological Project (, a large-scale archaeological survey and palaeoenvironmental study in central and southeast Bulgaria. Since 2012 A/Prof Ross has directed the Field Acquired Information Management Systems project aimed at developing data capture, management, and archiving resources for archaeologists. He is also involved with archaeology work at the site of Troizen in the Argolid. Previously, A/Prof Ross worked at the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) and William Paterson University (Wayne, New Jersey).

Shawn’s Publications »


Dr Adela Sobotkova

  • Project Co-Director
  • Research Fellow, Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University

Adela Sobotkova (Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Michigan 2012) is currently a Research Fellow at the Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Dr Sobotkova’s research focus includes the social complexity of Balkan and Black Sea indigenous communities, the methods of data capture during large-scale regional fieldwork, and the application of spatial analysis and remote sensing to archaeology. Dr Sobotkova co-supervises the Tundzha Regional Archaeology Project (TRAP), a diachronic landscape archaeology project in Bulgaria, and serves as the field research domain expert for the Field Acquired Information Management Systems (FAIMS) Project.

Adela’s Publications »


Dr Penny Crook

  • Project Contributor (La Trobe)
  • DECRA Fellow, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University

Penny Crook is a DECRA Fellow at the School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University. Dr Penny Crook is a historical archaeologist, consultant and Research Fellow in the Archaeology Program at La Trobe University. She specialises in urban assemblage analysis and material-culture studies. She designed two customised relational databases to store archaeological and historical data derived from the ARC Linkage-funded ‘Exploring the Archaeology of the Modern City’ project. She has collaborated with Victorian eResearch Strategic Initiative (VeRSI) and the La Trobe eResearch Office on the Australian Historical Archaeological Database (AHAD), funded by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS). She has published several papers and reports on urban archaeology, consumption studies, artefact cataloguing and database design.

Penny’s Publications »


Dr Brian Ballsun-Stanton

  • Technical Director
  • Research Associate, Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University

Brian Ballsun-Stanton (Ph.D. University of New South Wales, 2012) is currently a Research Associate at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include exploring how people interact with and understand the nature of data and an investigation into the mechanics of ludic-narrative interactions in games. He is the Technical Director and Data Architect for the Field Acquired Information Management Systems (FAIMS) Project.

Brian’s Publications


Dr Petra Janouchova

  • Access Coordinator / Client Manager
  • Research Fellow, Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University


Petra is an epigrapher, which means that she reads Ancient Greek mail and tombstones written more than 2000 years ago. She has done her PhD on Graeco-Thracian interaction, cultural exchange, and information dissemination in the SE Balkans during Antiquity. She has done her Masters in Classical Archaeology and Ancient Greek at the Charles University in Prague and she has come to Australia in 2016 to work with the FAIMS team and to broaden her horizons. Petra likes to do archaeological fieldwork and she enjoys helping other projects to design their data collection strategies. She has used the FAIMS DIY approach to customize and deploy her own module to collect data on Greek and Latin inscriptions that she encounters during her travels.

Petra’s Project


Christian Nassif-Haynes

  • Junior Developer
  • Macquarie University

Christian is finishing his BE in Software Engineering at Macquarie University. He has joined the FAIMS team in 2015 and has built tools to automate and simplify the production of FAIMS modules. Christian continues to develop FAIMS modules, finessing his automation code to accommodate even the most unique client requirements, all the while drinking neon-colored cordial and eating cookies.


Georgia Burnett

  • Researcher, PhD Student
  • Macquarie University

Georgia is a PhD student in Ancient History at Macquarie University. Her PhD explores the space of domain specific ontologies, exploring the potential, and assessing feasibility of standardized vocabularies in archaeology. She is researching the amenability of FAIMS schemata to automated ontology mapping, which, in the long term, should facilitate semantic data interoperability and cross-regional analyses. In short, she is looking at how archaeologists can use programmable tools and inter-disciplinary approaches to better describe and manage their data in order to incentivize sharing and collaboration. In addition to her work with FAIMS, Georgia collaborates with academics and assists them with data cleaning, management, and visualisation.


Ashley Wong

  • Student volunteer at FAIMS
  • High school student

Ashley is a Year 11 student with a deep interest in languages and ancient history. She is currently self-studying Russian and the programming language Python. In her own words: “Volunteering at FAIMS has given me insight into the world of archaeology and has opened doors in the world of technology and programming that I never expected to find.”