Russell is a general classicist who specializes in Roman and early Byzantine art and archaeology and Greek and Latin epigraphy of the Roman period.
He teaches undergraduate courses in Greek and Roman Art (Classical Studies 330), Applied Science and Technology in Classical Antiquity (Classical Studies 306), and courses in Latin and Greek at various levels.
Recent courses taught include Aristophanes (Greek 421), Livy (Latin 411), Latin Comedy (Latin 418), Latin Satire (Latin 419), Virgil (Latin 422).
He regularly teaches graduate seminars in Roman art and archaeology and Latin epigraphy. Recent topics include Official Roman Relief Sculpture, Topography and Monuments of Rome, Roman Funerary Art and Architecture, Roman Architecture in Italy under the Republic, Latin Epigraphy, Roman Archaeology of the Roman Army.
His principal research activity since 1970 has been the direction of the U.B.C. sponsored excavation at Anemurium, a small Roman and Byzantine city on the south coast of Turkey. He is currently working on the final reports of the churches, coins and small finds.
In the course of travel in Asia Minor Russell has discovered a considerable number of inscriptions. Included amongst these are two bronze Roman military diplomas which he has recently published. His current research concerns inscriptions of the Early Byzantine period.
Other areas of research interest are the Roman period in Palestine (Roman bath-house found in the excavation of Capernaum, Galilee), the topography and monuments of Rome, and Roman military activities in Britain north of the Hadrianic limes. Russell is currently Past President of the Archaeological Institute of America.