Current Graduate Students


Hana holding her baby

Hana Aghababian

Greek and Latin Languages and Linguistics

Hana (pronounced HA-na) 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 dissertation concerns the language of color in the Indo-European world; she is interested in the semantic and morphological developments as well as the metaphorical usages of color terms in the ancient languages. She also has interests in Greek literature, cognitive studies, translation, and language pedagogy. Hana is passionate about diversity and grad student well-being in Classics and academia generally. She is happy to chat with interested prospective students about her experiences as a graduate student and/or her research.

Emily wearing a backpack in the woods

Emily Aguilar

Ancient Philosophy

Emily (she/her) joined the PhD program in Fall 2023. She received her A.B. in Classical Languages from Bryn Mawr College in 2022 and her M.A. from Bryn Mawr in 2023 with a thesis on the female reproductive system in Platonic, Hermetic, and alchemical cosmogony. She is interested in ancient philosophy and religion, especially in metaphysics, religious syncretism, and the evolution of the Platonic tradition. Outside of her academic work, she enjoys hiking and reading science fiction.

Eric in front of dark skyline

Eric Blum

Greek and Latin Languages and Linguistics

Eric entered the Classics PhD program on the Greek and Latin Linguistics track in the fall of 2022. He earned his BA summa cum laude from Brandeis University that same year, receiving the David S. Wiesen Prize in Classical Studies. His undergraduate thesis was an examination of the linguistics and poetics of the particle γε in Homer. His primary research interests include the pragmatics of Greek poetry, discourse particles, Homeric philology, Sanskrit literature, and Indo-European linguistics. He also works on classical reception in modernist literature, particularly that of Joyce and Pound.

Claire in front of archaeological site

Claire Challancin

Classical Archaeology and Art

Claire Challancin received her BA summa cum laude with a double major in Classical Languages and Anthropology (Archaeology concentration) from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2019. She is a PhD candidate specializing in Mediterranean archaeology. Claire is interested in the sociocultural dynamics on the island of Sicily in the Hellenistic-Republican period. Her dissertation focuses on epitymbia, monumental funerary structures commonly found in Hellenistic necropoles throughout the island, and what they reveal about connectivity, and cultural change and continuity. Claire has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Tuscany at the Santa Marta site with the University of Siena, and Baratti and Venturina Terme with the Soprintendenza of Pisa and Livorno. More recently, she has worked in Sicily at the Temple of Apollo at Halaesa with the University of Messina and Oxford University, and the agora of Morgantina with the Contrada Agnese Project.

Evan in front of white flowers

Evan Colby

Greek and Latin Languages and Linguistics

After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2020 with a BA in Classics and Linguistics, Evan joined the department of Classics at Cornell in the fall of the same year. His interests are mostly linguistic in nature and are centered primarily on Greek, including Modern Greek. Some of these linguistic interests include Greek and Latin historical phonology and morphology, the Homeric Kunstsprache, phonological theory, and the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European. He also maintains an interest in epic as a literary genre, with a focus on Homer and Vergil.

Portrait photo of Leah

Leah Cynara Cook

Classical Literature and Philology

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.

Portrait photo of Mary

Mary Danisi

Classical Literature and Philology

Mary is a Ph.D. candidate specializing in the study of ancient Greek and Roman religion. She received her B.A. in Classics summa cum laude from Barnard College of Columbia University in 2017 and her M.A. in Classics from Cornell in 2020. Her research addresses the materiality and aesthetics of ritual practices in antiquity. Her dissertation, “Crafting the Cosmos: Fillets and the Fabrication of the Sacred in Ancient Greece” presents the first comprehensive analysis of the production and application of handmade bands in Greek cult, during the Archaic through Hellenistic periods. Her work has been supported by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Society for the Humanities, Lemmermann Foundation, and American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Mary has taught courses in classical languages and literature, and on the art and archaeology of the pre-Modern Mediterranean world. She has held internships at The Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as The Frick Collection, and has excavated at Onchestos and Corinth. During the 2023-2024 academic year, she is the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. She is a current member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Portrait photo of Ethan

Ethan Della Rocca

Classical Literature and Philology

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. At Cornell, he has continued his work in digital humanities with the Lexeis project.

Stephen wearing a medal in front of a tree

Stephen Fodroczi

Classical Literature and Philology

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 taking notes outdoors

Kathleen Garland

Classical Archaeology

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.
Rachel posing in sunlight

Rachel Gastrich

2023-2024 Bridge M.A. Fellow

Rachel is this year’s Bridge MA Fellow. She specializes in literature, and is most interested in studying sexuality and gender in both Greek and Latin drama and comedy. As she improves her language skills through the Bridge MA program, she hopes to use the linguistic details of the original Latin and Greek texts to expand her research. She received her BA in Classical and Mediterranean Studies from Vanderbilt University in 2023 (cum laude). She has done previous research regarding the Roman reception of Alexander the Great and transcribing historical archaeological journals from Kenchreai. She is excited to be a part of making the classical field more accessible, and welcomes any questions regarding her experience as a Bridge MA Fellow.
Rebecca in a lab coat

Rebecca Gerdes

Classical Archaeology


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 approaches to study ancient food practices. In her dissertation research, she is developing new methods for analyzing food residues in ceramics that account for effects from the ancient Mediterranean environment, and new ways of interpreting organic residues to make the results more accessible and to better integrate them into archaeological results. She works with excavations in Cyprus (Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments Project and the Yeronisos Island Expedition) and Greece (Lyktos Archaeological Project). Rebecca is a co-founder of the Archaeological Science Group at Cornell and a founding member of the CIAMS Anticolonialism and Antiracism Interest Group, and served as the Assistant Director of the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies in 2021-22. Rebecca also enjoys doing outreach in archaeology and STEM for middle and high school students. She is happy to talk about her experiences in any of these areas.
Portrait photo of Olivia

Olivia Graves

Classical Archaeology and Art

Olivia Graves is a PhD student in the Classical Archaeology track. Before starting at Cornell in Fall 2020, Olivia completed a B.A. in English and Classics from UC Berkeley (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), an MPhil in Archaeology from the University of Oxford (Distinction), and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Classics from UCLA. Her research interests primarily concern the socio-economic lives of non-elite peoples in the Roman world. She has participated in archaeological fieldwork at the Bronze Age cemetery of Aidonia in Greece with UC Berkeley (2015; 2017), the Roman small town of Dorchester-on-Thames in the UK with the University of Oxford (2016; 2018), and most recently the rural minor center of Marzuolo in Roman Tuscany with Cornell (2022).
Portrait photo of Isaac

Isaac Hoffman

Classical Literature and Philology

Isaac Hoffman graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Classics and Latin in 2019. He is a PhD Candidate on the Philology track and currently working on a dissertation exploring flowers and plants as literary devices in Greek and Latin literature of the early Imperial period. He enjoys teaching and speaking Latin and exploring the boundaries between texts and objects.
Hyeonseo in front of water

Hyeonseo Kim

Classical Literature and Philology

Hyeonseo joined the PhD program in Fall 2022 on the Classical Philology and Literature Track. She received her BA in Philosophy and Classics summa cum laude from Seoul National University in 2019, and a Classics MA in 2022 from the same institution. She is primarily interested in the presentation of speech and poetry in ancient Greek thought, with a focus on Greek epic and ancient receptions of Homer. She is happy to talk to prospective students about her experiences.
Portrait photo of Dante

Dante King

Interdisciplinary Classics

Dante is a third-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 investigating visualization in illuminated manuscripts of the late antique and early medieval Latin West. The synergy between text and image in these codices is the cornerstone of his graduate research. He is currently the vice president of Cornell’s Medieval Studies Graduate Association (MSGA) and also works with Professor Emeritus Jeff Rusten on the Lexeis project, using Python to digitize single author ancient Greek lexica. 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 twelve productions, including Euripides’ Medea (Jason) and Terence’s Adelphoe (Demea).
Clara in ancient site

Clara McCafferty Wright

Classical Archaeology and Art

Clara McCafferty Wright is a doctoral student at Cornell University in Classical Archaeology and Art. Her primary research foci include Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, and Greco-Roman reception of Egypt. She recently completed an MPhil degree in Egyptology at the University of Cambridge with a dissertation entitled, “Reconsidering Cleopatra VII: The Lost Narrative of Egypt’s Last Queen.” Clara earned her A.B. at Bryn Mawr College in 2019, where she double majored in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology & Classical Cultures and Societies. At Bryn Mawr, she was a Hanna Holborn Gray Research Fellow and authored a thesis on Cleopatra VII’s political influence on the Isis cult in Italy. During her undergraduate degree, she also studied in the Egyptology programs at the University of Pennsylvania and the American University in Cairo. In addition, she established The Bryn Mawr College Magic Lantern Slide Digitization Project. Clara currently serves as a Director of The American Research Center in Egypt—Missouri Chapter, and a team member of the Egyptology State of the Field Survey Project. Clara is passionate about diversifying our understanding of the ancient world to one which includes the narratives of disenfranchised members of societies, including women, enslaved people, and the working class. She has a strong interest in using the study of the past to empower people today by making information on the ancient world accessible to rural and underprivileged communities.
Liam with sky in the background

Liam McDonald

Classical Archaeology and Art

Liam is a fourth year PhD candidate 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. He is a member of the Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory and his research at Cornell focuses on wood provenance for the purposes of palaeoclimate reconstruction and examining ancient mobility. His other research interests include radiocarbon dating and calibration, human-environment interactions, scientific approaches to the archaeological record, and Roman history.
Sara posing with peace sign in front of ancient tablet

Sara Merker

Classical Literature and Philology

Sara Merker is a third-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 Classics.  Sara aims to research the literature of the (so-called) Second Sophistic period, with a special focus on how this movement manifested in the provinces and informs our studies of religious 'identity' and law during this era. Sara has recently focused on these ideas through Apuleius’ Apologia and related rhetorical texts. 
Jordan with town and hill in background

Jordan Murphy

Classical Archaeology and Art

Jordan (she/they) is a Ph.D. student in Classics in the Archaeology and Art track. She received her B.A. in Classical Civilizations and Political Science with a minor in Anthropology from U.C. Berkeley in 2023 (Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, with Highest Honors in Classics). She is primarily interested in Late Bronze Age and Iron Age power dynamics, early political and economic institutions, and the archaeology of gender and non-elites in mainland and Cycladic Greece. She has participated in archaeological fieldwork at the Panhellenic sanctuary in Nemea, Greece (2022, 2023).
Alessandro with library in background

Alessandro Peiris Pattiyage

Ancient Philosophy

Alessandro joined the Ancient Philosophy concentration in 2021, after receiving his BA and MA 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. Besides Greek and Latin philosophical texts, his interests include Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy.
Portrait photo of Ruth

Ruth Portes

Classical Archaeology and Art

Ruth received her B.A. in Archaeology and Writing from Johns Hopkins University (2016), and her M.A. in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies from Brandeis University (2018). She is a Ph.D. Candidate specializing in the ancient Black Sea Region. Her work focuses on the social and cultural shifts that took place in the mid-first millennium BCE, and how Greek settlement on the coast of modern Georgia played into these wider changes. She has participated in archaeological projects in Spain, Israel, Mongolia, and Georgia. She is on the organizing committee and a founding member of the CIAMS Anti-colonialism and Anti-racism (ARCO) Interest Group, as well as a co-founder of Coffee Hour for Classicists of Color. She is always happy to talk about her experiences as a graduate student or in any of the above mentioned areas.
Carson in front of white buildings

Carson Riggs

Classical Archaeology and Art

Carson (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in Classics studying archaeology and art. She received her A.B. in Classical Archaeology modified with Medieval Studies at Dartmouth College in 2023 (salutatorian, Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude with high honors). She is interested in the intersection of religion, medicine, and “magic” in the Late Antique world, particularly shown materially through apotropaic objects, such as amulets. She is also interested in medicinal plants and archaeobotany. She has participated in archaeological fieldwork at the early medieval site of Caherconnell in Ireland, as well as at an Ancestral Puebloan site in Colorado.
Sophia with an ancient tablet

Sophia Taborski

Classical Archaeology

Sophia Taborski is a PhD candidate in classical archaeology. She received her B. Phil. from the University of Pittsburgh in Classics and History and has taught English, Latin, and history in primary and secondary education. In her dissertation, titled “Inscribing Violence: Curse Tablets in the Roman Empire” she examines the texts, contexts, orthography, and materiality of curse tablets to explore violence, embodiment, power dynamics, and intersectional identities and experiences such as disability, enslavement, race, gender, and sexuality. She has taken RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) image sets of curse tablets in the Medici Library in Florence, the Diocletian Baths Museum in Rome, the Roman Bath Museum in Bath, and in the Stoa of Attalos in Athens and the National Archaeological Museum of Corinth as an Associate Member of the American School for Classical Studies. She has excavated in Argilos, Greece, and at St. James AME Zion Church, Ithaca. Other interests include religion, medicine, cognitive approaches, pedagogy, and domestic archaeology.

Terek in front of bookshelf

Terek Walker

Classical Literature and Philology

Terek (he/him) joined the Classics department as a PhD student in the fall of 2023. He received his BA in Classics (with honors) from the University of California, Davis in 2022 and completed the post-baccalaureate program at UC Davis in the spring of 2023. His interests include Latin love elegy, specifically the poetry of Catullus and Propertius, as well as Greek funerary epigraphy and its relationship with Homeric epic.
Black and white portrait photo of Adrian

Adrian Walls

2022-2023 Bridge M.A. Fellow

Adrian (They/Them) specializes in literature, philosophy, and reception. While attaining BA’s in political science and classical humanities at the Ohio State University, they studied the intersections of enviro-determinism and philosophy in the Platonic corpus. Likewise, their undergraduate thesis argued that the representations of enslavement in the Ancient Greek novels parallel those in Aristotle and Euripides’ texts.

As the Classics Bridge MA Fellow at Cornell, Adrian has strengthened these projects with new skills and theoretical frameworks. In addition to improved abilities in Ancient Greek and Latin, the intersectional and decolonial theories of Black feminisms have broadened and deepened Adrian’s research. In their forthcoming MA thesis, Adrian plans to use these theories to examine the significance of race, class, and other identities in the feminism of Plato’s Republic, along with its receptions in more recent feminisms. Adrian is happy to speak about their experiences upon request. 

Portrait photo of Belisarius

Belisarius Welgan

Classical Literature and Philology

Belisarius is a PhD candidate specializing in Hellenistic poetry and science. He received his BSc in Mathematics in 2013 and his MA in Classical Languages in 2016 from the University of Alberta, Canada. His master’s thesis, entitled “Diophantus’ Arithmetica and the Hypatian Rescension”, considered possible traces of Hypatian influence in the presentation of Diophantus' proto-algebraic treatise, the Arithmetica. His dissertation focuses on the astronomical poem, the Phaenomena of Aratus of Soli, and the use of poetic expression as a medium for scientific discourse in the Hellenistic period. His research interests include Greek epic and lyric poetry, ancient science and mathematics, and applications in digital humanities.