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He focused on early Sicilian Architecture and society in his PhD (1993) at Brown University’s Center for Old World Archaeology and Art (now the Joukowsky Institute). He became interested in Turkey and the Black Sea while teaching Archaeology and Art History at Bilkent University in Turkey.
Since 1996 he has led the Sinop Regional Archaeological Project, a regional study of archaeology, culture and environment in the Sinop Province, northern Turkey. He has authored one book, edited another and published more than forty articles relating to the archaeology of the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.
His book Sinop Landscapes: Exploring Connection in the Hinterland of a Black Sea Port was published by the University of Pennsylvania Museum Press.
Doonan is also interested in the contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa - In 2010 he co-founded the New Sahara Gallery in Northridge, the first Los Angeles area gallery to specialize in the contemporary fine art of the Middle East and North Africa.