Research Specialist, Documentation
Even at the age of 10, Jackie Zak displayed an inclination toward archaeology, digging up parts of her grandmother's backyard in Flint, Michigan. In college at Michigan State University, she majored in anthropology, specializing in prehistory, and one summer she worked on a field project in northern California. That convinced her that California was where she wanted to live. Even so, after college she returned to Flint and spent the next three years working at the Alfred P. Sloan Jr. Museum, which housed a local history collection. It was there that she first became interested in conservation.
When the Sloan Museum job ended, she moved to Los Angeles. Soon she was volunteering at UCLA's Institute of Archaeology and working as a consulting archaeologist as part of several cultural resource management projects. Around that time, she enrolled at California State University, Northridge, to earn a master's degree in anthropology, specializing in archaeology. While there she took courses on conservation and preservation, one of which was organized by the Getty Museum. She also worked for the U.S. Forest Service as an archaeologist and participated in field campaigns in New Mexico and Peru, where she studied prehistoric agricultural techniques. Her work in Peru formed the basis of her thesis.
Following her long-term interest in conservation and a new interest in on-line databases, Ms. Zak joined the then-embryonic GCI in 1985. From the start she was part of the Documentation Program, first as a book cataloguer, later as a research assistant for AATA. In 1987 she became Data Management Coordinator for the Conservation Information Network (CIN), leading a team that developed database standards, procedures, and tools to improve data input, organization, and access. After management of CIN was transferred to the Canadian Heritage Information Network, she assumed her present position overseeing database research support for GCI staff.
Her professional involvements include participating in the Data Standards Working Group of ICOM's International Documentation Committee and serving as the Documentation Committee Chair for the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.