Russell Sheptak spent 20 years architecting and writing software at startups, retiring as a VP of Engineering at his last company. He then returned to research on the history and life of Central American indigenous people, a topic that has interested him since his early days as an Anthropology undergraduate at Cornell University in the 1970s.
He obtained his Ph.D. in Archaeology from Leiden University in the Netherlands in 2013, combining both historical and archaeological data to provide a rich view into the ways the indigenous people of the lower Ulua River valley in Honduras co-constucted much of the colonial society that continues to affect the economy and politics of modern Honduras.
From 2016 to 2020, he co-directed a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a finding aid for the microfilm collection duplicating the Archivo General de Centroamérica. He is the co-editor of Indigenous Persistence in the Colonized Americas (University of New Mexico Press, 2019).
While working at the Spanish Colonial fort of Omoa, on Honduras’s Caribbean coast, he became interested in the lives and experiences of the Afrodescendent peoples associated with the fort, both enslaved and free, and he is currently working on writing a book about the free Black people at Omoa. In 2022, he was awarded the Jesús Núñez Chinchilla Prize for "Inclusive Investigation of the Cultural Patrimony of Honduras" by the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia.