Current Graduate Students

Hana Aghababian

 

Photo of Hana Aghababian.

Concentration: Greek and Latin Language and Linguistics
aha92@cornell.edu

Hana joined the PhD program on the Linguistics track in Fall 2019. After receiving her BA in Classics at Gettysburg College, she spent a year teaching English and Japanese in Yerevan, Armenia. She then completed her MA in Classical Languages at the University of Georgia, where she wrote her thesis “Translating the Gospel of Matthew, with a Case Study of Latin and Armenian Deixis.” Her current research interests include Indo-European linguistics and philology, ancient color, and translation. Hana is also on the leadership team of Diversitas and is happy to chat with interested students about the group, her experiences as a graduate student, and/or her research.

Colin Behrens

 

Concentration: Ancient History
cpb89@cornell.edu

Colin earned his BA from Florida State University in Classics summa cum laude, concentrating in the Latin and Greek languages (2016).  His honors thesis, “Uncovering Pagan Identity in the Late Roman Empire,” dealt with the creation of “pagan” identity in both the Roman West and East through the lens of labeling theory.  As he begins his Ph.D. work in Ancient History, he hopes to investigate the social implications of philosophy and theology on the lower classes in the Late Roman world, by a close reading of Christian sermons in comparison to the relevant philosophical texts.  He is also interested in the reception of the Classical World throughout the Western Tradition. 

Claire Challancin

 

Photo of Claire Challancin.

Concentration: Classical Archaeology and Art
cc2667@cornell.edu

Claire Challancin received her BA summa cum laude with a double major in Classical Languages and Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2019. She is in her first year of the PhD program on the Classical Archaeology track and she hopes to focus her research on power relations and hegemony during the transition between the Hellenistic period in Sicily and the Roman colonization of the island. She is also interested in funerary archaeology, the juxtaposition of written records with the archaeological record, ceramics, and gender relations in the ancient world. Claire has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Tuscany at the Santa Marta site with the University of Siena, and in Sicily at the Temple of Apollo at Halaesa with the University of Messina and Oxford University.

Evan Colby

Evan Colby

Concentration: Greek and Latin Languages and Linguistics
eoc9@cornell.edu

Evan is a PhD student in Classics concentrating in Greek and Latin Languages and Linguistics. He received a BA in Classics and Linguistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020 and joined the Classics Department at Cornell in the fall of the same year. His main interest is the development of the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Greek, beginning at its earliest stages and extending all the way up to Modern Greek.

Leah Cynara Cook

 

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Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
lcc2@cornell.edu

Leah is a PhD student in Classics, working towards her degree through the Employee Degree Program. She earned her B.A. from Cornell University in 1993, dual majoring in Classics and Philosophy, graduating magna cum laude in Classics and with distinction in all subjects. Her research interests include the intersections of ancient magic, epic poetry, and pharmacology and botany. She is also the program coordinator for the Plant Sciences major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.

Mary Danisi

Mary Danisi

Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
mcd245@cornell.edu

Mary is a Ph.D. candidate studying Greco-Roman art and archaeology. She received her B.A. in Classics summa cum laude from Barnard College of Columbia University in 2017. Her primary area of research addresses the materiality and aesthetics of ancient ritual practices. Her dissertation, “Weaving the Cosmos: Fillets and the Fabrication of the Sacred in Ancient Greece” presents the first comprehensive analysis of the craft and function of handwoven bands in Greek cult, from the Archaic through Hellenistic periods. Her work has been supported by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the Lemmermann Foundation. She has held internships at The Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as The Frick Collection, and has conducted archaeological fieldwork for the Onchestos Excavation Project. She is a current member of Phi Beta Kappa. During the 2021 – 2022 academic year, she will be a Regular Member at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Samantha Davis

 

Samantha Davis

Concentration: Classical Philology and Literature
scd225@cornell.edu

Samantha is a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell on the Philology track. She received her B.A. in Classics (2013) and her M.A. in Comparative Literature with a Classics concentration (2016) from the University of New Mexico. She is interested in all aspects of Greek and Roman comedy, particularly Terentian comedy and Roman social and political history. Other research interests include ancient drama more broadly, Old Latin, elegiac poetry, and satire.
Her dissertation will show that Terence’s plays draw attention to Roman morality in multifaceted ways: the characters and double-plots demonstrate moral dilemmas which are themselves informed by legislative acts of moral censorship, the mentality of imperialism, and changing ideas about ownership and authority.

Ethan Della Rocca

Ethan Della Rocca

Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
ehd35@cornell.edu

Ethan joined the Classics department as a PhD student in the fall of 2020. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Chicago that same year, receiving a B.A. in both Classics (with honors) and Philosophy. He is interested in the intersection of literary form and philosophical thought, particularly in the works of Lucretius and Seneca. Other interests include the role of digital humanities within Classics as a tool for both research and education. During his time in Chicago, he worked on the Logeion project and developed the parsing feature Morpho.

Sarah Epplin

 

Photo of Sarah Epplin.

Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
sme84@cornell.edu

Sarah received her B.A. in History summa cum laude from the Appalachian State University Honors College in 2017 and her M.A. in Classical Languages from the University of Georgia in 2019. Her Master's thesis conducted a study of the terms corpus, caro, spiritus, and anima in the works of Tertullian and analyzed their significance for understanding Tertullian's eucharistic theology. Sarah began the Classics Ph.D. program at Cornell in 2019. She plans to continue her work on Christian sacraments and the language used by early Christian authors to discuss their practices and beliefs. Other research interests include literature in Roman North Africa and the interaction of Roman religion with other ancient religious traditions.

Stephen Fodroczi

Stephen Fodroczi

Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
sdf75@cornell.edu

 

Stephen graduated magna cum laude from Florida State University in Spring 2020, receiving three B.A. degrees in Classics, Music, and English Literature. He joined the Cornell Classics department as a Ph.D. student in the Philology and Literature track in the fall of the same year. His honor’s thesis, “Homeric Songs: Oral Poetic Recitations and Musical Performances”, explored the musical aspects and oral nature of the Homeric epics with similar musical and oral poetic traditions. He is interested in the orality-literary framework, epic (especially Homer), ancient music and performance, and Ancient Greek poetry. Other interests include the development of Roman satire, katabasis, Sappho, and the issue of genre in ancient literature.

Kathleen Garland

Kathleen Garland

Concentration: Classical Archaeology
kg452@cornell.edu

 

Kathleen received her BA in Classical Archaeology from Hampshire College in 2012 and completed the post-baccalaureate program in Classics at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. She is currently in her third year on the archaeology track and focusing on labor, technology, and networks of exchange in the Hellenistic and Roman Mediterranean. She has excavated in Greece, Israel, and Italy. Other interests include representations of capital and labor in text and image, and histories of archaeological practice.

Rebecca Gerdes

 

Photo of Rebecca Gerdes.

Concentration: Classical Archaeology
rfg75@cornell.edu

Rebecca began the Classical Archaeology track in 2016. She holds a B.A. in Classics and Chemistry (Smith College ’15), and an M.Sc. in Archaeological Science (U. of Oxford ’16). Her work focuses on integrating archaeological and chemical methods to study ancient food practices. In her dissertation research, she is developing new methods for analyzing food residues in ceramics that are specific to the environment of the ancient Mediterranean. She is a member of two excavations in Cyprus, the Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments Project and the Yeronisos Island Expedition. Rebecca is an executive board member and the former president of the Archaeological Science Group at Cornell and a member of Diversitas and the CIAMS Anticolonialism and Antiracism Interest Group, and is involved in archaeology and STEM outreach. She’s happy to talk about her experiences in any of these areas. Rebecca is currently the Assistant Director of the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies.

 

Olivia Graves

Olivia Graves

Concentration: Classical Archaeology and Art
og84@cornell.edu

Olivia Graves is in the first year of the PhD program in the Classical Archaeology track. She received her B.A. in English and Classics from UC Berkeley in 2017 (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), an MPhil in Archaeology (Distinction) from the University of Oxford in 2019, and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Classics from UCLA in 2020. She primarily focuses on the Roman economy, but her master’s thesis looked at early Byzantine objects that have been discovered in the United Kingdom as evidence for continued contact between East and West in Late Antiquity. Other interests include the archaeology of the Roman provinces, ancient living standards, new horizons for modeling and the digital humanities, and the representation of material culture in classical literature. She has participated in archaeological fieldwork at the Bronze Age cemetery of Aidonia, Greece with UC Berkeley and the Roman small-town of Dorchester-on-Thames in the UK with the University of Oxford. 

Isaac Hoffman

 

Photo of Isaac Hoffman.

Concentration: Classics Literature and Philology
imh42@cornell.edu

Isaac Hoffman graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Latin and Classics, with a concentration in Classical Languages and Literature, in 2019. His Honors Thesis, “The Power of the Child-Bearer in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon,” focused on a cycle of misogynistic violence and the justifications for that violence in Hesiod and Aeschylus and received the Library Research Award. He is a first year PhD student on the Philology track and is interested in how oppressors justify and rationalize oppression to themselves across multiple modes of oppression including sexism, classism, imperialism, and slavery. He also enjoys spoken Latin and Roman pedagogy.

Dante King

Dante King

Concentration: Interdisciplinary Classics
dgk63@cornell.edu

 

Dante is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Classics track. In 2021, he earned his BA in Classical Languages magna cum laude from The College of Wooster and investigated foundation stories’ influence on and interaction with early Roman imperial society in his Honors thesis, “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Vergil and Ovid’s Clashing Portrayals of Individual and Group Identity.” While Dante maintains a wide range of interests, he is most passionate about exploring the relationship between text and image in the ancient Mediterranean––how the written word informed visual art and architecture and vice versa––and the later, indeed ongoing, reception of the classical world. Dante hopes to make the resonance of stories through time the cornerstone of his graduate research. He is currently working with Professor Jeff Rusten on the Lexeis project, using Python to digitize Georg Anton Friedrich Ast’s three-volume Lexicon Platonicum (1835 – 1838), a lexicon for the complete Platonic corpus. Alongside his work in Classics, Dante has nurtured a love of music and theatre. He has sung in various languages (including Latin), both solo and in choral environments, and acted onstage in eleven productions, one of which was Euripides’ Medea where he played Jason.

Liam McDonald

 

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Concentration: Classical Archaeology and Art
ljm288@cornell.edu

Liam is a first year PhD student in Classics concentrating in Classical Archaeology. He received his BA (Hons) in Anthropology from the University of Auckland in 2014 and his MSc in Archaeological Science from the University of Oxford in 2016. He has worked in CRM archaeology in New Zealand and at the Auckland Museum. His research at Cornell will focus on dendrochronology and the radiocarbon calibration process. His other research interests include palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, human-environment interaction, scientific approaches to the archaeological record and Roman social and cultural history.

Sara Merker

Sara Merker

Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
smm435@cornell.edu

 

Sara Merker is a first-year PhD student concentrating in Classical Philology and Literature. She graduated with Distinction from McGill University (2020), receiving a B.A. with First Class Honours in Honours Classics. During her undergraduate degree, Sara conducted archaeological fieldwork at the Salapia Exploration Project (Trinitapoli, Italy) and worked as a Research Assistant for Prof. Heidi Wendt (Religious Studies/Classical Studies) under an ARIA research grant. Sara aims to research the literature of the ‘so-called’ Second Sophistic period, with a special focus on how Apuleius’ Apologia fits within this literary movement. She additionally hopes to examine how the Apologia’s implementation of comedy contributes to the effectiveness of its court-room rhetoric, as well as the religious implications of Apuleius’ defense and the instances in which he enlists material objects to support his arguments.

Andrew Merritt

 

Andrew Merritt

Concentration: Greek and Latin Languages and Linguistics
aem335@cornell.edu

Andrew Merritt received his B.A. in Classics from the University of Virginia in 2013 and in 2015 his M.Phil. from Cambridge University. In 2016 he joined the Cornell Classics Department, entering the Ph.D. program with a concentration in Greek and Latin Linguistics. His interests comprise the historical and comparative grammar of Greek, Latin, and various daughter languages, the derivational semantics of Indo-European nominal and verbal formations, lexical semantic change, and Homeric Philology. In 2020 the French Republic awarded Andrew a Chateaubriand Fellowship to further his doctoral research on the etymology of κάλλος ‘beauty’.

Alessandro Peiris Pattiyage

Alessandro Peiris Pattiyage

Concentration: Ancient Philosophy
ap793@cornell.edu

 

Alessandro is a PhD student in the Ancient Philosophy concentration. He joined the Department of Classics after receiving his BA (2018) and MA (2020) in Classics from the University of Florence. During his MA, he also studied ancient philosophy and Indian philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (2019-20). Besides ancient Greek and Latin philosophical texts, his interests include Indian philosophy and Sanskrit.

Ruth Portes

Photo of Ruth Portes.

Concentration: Classical Archaeology and Art
rdp226@cornell.edu

Ruth received her B.A. in Archaeology and Writing from Johns Hopkins University in 2016, and her M.A. in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies from Brandeis University in 2018. She is interested in the interactions between Eurasian mobile pastoralists and their neighbors in the Mediterranean and Black Sea Regions, with a focus on themes such as alterity, identity, interconnectivity and the processes of technological development. She has excavated in Spain, Israel, and Mongolia, and joined the Classical Archaeology program in 2019. Ruth is on the organizing committee for the CIAMS Anti-colonialism and Anti-racism Interest Group as well as a member of the Archaeological Science Group at Cornell. She is always happy to talk about her experiences as a graduate student or in any of these topics.

Matthieu Réal

Matthieu Réal

Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
mr2222@cornell.edu

 

Matthieu joined the Cornell Classics Department in 2016 after receiving his BA (2014) and MA (2016) in Classics from Padua University (Italy). He is writing his dissertation on pre-Hellenistic textual exegesis. He has published on Andronicus of Rhodes and the Derveni Papyrus. His interests include Greek and Latin epic poetry, ancient literary criticism, and the developments of paratextual genres.

Emily Shanahan

Emmy Shanahan

Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
egs77@cornell.edu

 

Emily Shanahan received her B.A. in Classics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016, where she was the recipient of the Eben Alexander Prize in Greek. She began her PhD, philology track, in fall 2018. Her research interests include the transition from aurality to literacy in Greek literature, visual and phonetic word play, and Aratus. She is a co-founder of the graduate classics organization Diversitas and is open to questions via email from prospective students.

Sophia Taborski

Concentration: Classical Archaeology
skt47@cornell.edu

Sophia received her B. Phil. from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College in Classics and History in 2015 with the thesis, "Not Just for the Birds: Augury and Archaic Attic Vase Painting."  This paper served as the basis for a presentation at Prophets and Profits, XVI UNISA Classics Colloquium in the summer of 2015. She is in her first year of the PhD program on the Classical Archaeology track and is interested in divination, materiality of ancient religion, and the interaction between object and text.  She is in the process of preparing a version of her undergraduate thesis, which she presented at Prophets and Profits, XVI UNISA Classics Colloquium in the summer of 2015, for publication.

Belisarius Welgan

Concentration: Classical Literature and Philology
bnw32@cornell.edu

Belisarius received his BSc in Mathematics in 2013 and his MA in Classical Languages in 2016 from the University of Alberta. His master’s thesis, entitled “Diophantus’ Arithmetica and the Hypatian Rescension”, considered possible traces of Hypatian influence within the extant text of the Alexandrian Diophantus’ number theory treatise, the Arithmetica. Belisarius is currently a first-year PhD student in Classics concentrating on Classical Philology and Literature, and he is interested in working on Hellenistic astronomy and instrumentation. Other research interests include didactic poetry, the early history of mathematics, pharmacology and botany, as well as other ancient sciences.

Ye Zhou

Ye Zhou

Concentration: Ancient History
yz432@cornell.edu

 

Ye is a first year student in the Classics Bridge MA program.  He is interested in questions of freedom in the ancient world.  His current research focus is on Roman citizenship, slavery, and manumission.  Rome was unique among ancient slave-holding societies in that slaves automatically received citizenship upon manumission, and yet anxiety over “pollution of Roman blood” persisted, creating fascinating dynamics and tensions not only during the manumission process, but also before the process was initiated and after it was concluded.  Ye is also interested in Cicero, his speeches in particular, as well as constitutions of both the ancient and the modern world, having conducted research projects on the Roman assemblies during the Second Punic War and on the Weimar constitution and the rise of National Socialism.

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