BIPOC Feature: Michaela Smith

One of the things that I wanted to do with Notes From the Apotheke was to amplify the voices and contributions of BIPOC scholars in ancient Mediterranean studies, at all levels and from all backgrounds. BIPOC in the field are invited to reflect on what brought them to studying the ancient world, as well as offer their opinions on the future of the discipline and share any work they are especially proud of or excited about.

This month’s installment of the series features Michaela Smith, a third year undergraduate student in the department of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies at UBC. Check out Michaela’s post below!

Woman smiling in front of a case displaying a fragment of a wall painting showing a woman from antiquity
Image included with permission of author
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Notes from the Apotheke Turns Three! Another Year in Review

It feels like it was just yesterday that I was writing my first year in review for this blog in 2021. Somehow, I blinked and now we’re in year THREE. Can you believe it??

As it turns out, a lot can happen in three years. So much, in fact, that I haven’t been able to post as regularly as I did in that first year. However, the fact that I’ve seen SO much growth in the two years since my first year in review post shows that even though I’ve been busy in other areas of my life, the support for this blog has not wavered.

So, I have to first thank every single one of YOU for sticking with this thing.

What began as something I didn’t think would have much impact has become one of the most impactful things I’ve ever done in my life.

If you’re wondering where this blog began, you can check out the last post for a summary of where I was coming from in Winter 2021.

Black woman in blue and black graduation robes standing in front of a fountain

I think I’ve come a long way since then. I defended my dissertation and graduated with a whole PhD. While finishing my degree, I got a job and am now an Assistant Professor (at my alma mater, no less!).

Somehow in there I also published a chapter in Diversity and the Study of Antiquity in Higher Education (2023) and continue to write more. One of those articles (not yet published) is based on a talk I gave at the Presenting the Past colloquium held in Vancouver, British Columbia in March 2023. As a result, my work with this blog has gotten a lot of attention – perhaps the most it has since 2021.

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A Day in the Life of an Archaeologist

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of an archaeologist is like? Well, in today’s post, I’m answering (hopefully) some of your questions.

Black woman wearing a blue hat, blue long sleeved shirt and grey tank top, standing in front of two mosaics in a field
My favorite part of being an archaeologist is getting access to sites otherwise closed to the public. Here I am at the Villa of Good Fortune in Olynthos.

A quick caveat: although some aspects of my days are things everyone experiences, in general, my days will probably look pretty different from what you expect. This is because I don’t dig in the trenches. I am a member of the project’s pottery team. We are responsible for cataloguing and analyzing the ceramic finds that everyone else digs up!

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3 Strategies for Equitable and Inclusive Teaching

Want to know a secret? Although I’ve been asked to give talks and lead workshops on topics related to teaching, I haven’t taught a course since Spring 2020!

All the pedagogy-related public-facing work that I’ve done over the last two and a half years has been based largely on four things.

First, I’ve reflected a lot on my own teaching (and learning) experiences. You can find some of those reflections in posts I’ve rounded up here.

Second, I’ve heard a lot from my peers about the courses they’re teaching. Sometimes, I’ve even offered advice based on my own experiences teaching those same courses.

Third, since I’m almost always on Twitter, I get a lot of inspiration from discussions of teaching on social media.

And, finally, I (try to) read a lot. Some books I’ve shelved over the years include Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses by L.D. Fink and Start Here, Start Now by L. Kleinrock.

All this reflecting and researching over the years, however, has (finally!) led to this moment. In the fall I will be back in the classroom as I begin my tenure-track position. This means that I can now practice what I preach – and have been preaching for years.

In this week’s post, I’m highlighting some of the ways that I am planning to make my courses equitable and inclusive of all students. Clearly, I haven’t had a chance to test these approaches yet, so you can take them with a grain of salt. But I think that they reflect my overarching teaching philosophy well.

Laptop screen displaying a Word document and a powerpoint presentation
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Defense Presentations (Hidden Curriculum #13)

In last week’s post, I provided an overview of what the dissertation defense is, and what my experience with it was nearly two months ago. This week, I want to unpack a part of my defense that, although virtually unheard of in my department, is common in others – defense presentations.

There are three main components of my preparation for this milestone in my graduate career: the outline, the slide deck, and the presentation.

Whether you’re preparing for a defense that is imminent or you’re in the early stages of your degree, I hope this post will be helpful!

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How I Survived My Defense (and You Can Too!)

There are a lot of examinations while earning a PhD. Many line up with major milestones of the degree. In general, these are: comprehensive exams, preliminary exams, and a thesis defense.

Of those, the defense was the most emotionally and mentally challenging.

The reasons why are summarized nicely in a blog post by Albert Kuo. Giving a public presentation, not wanting to disappoint anyone (especially your dissertation chair), and the unknowns of the closed-door session are all extremely anxiety-inducing.

In this week’s post, I’m revisiting that harrowing time in the hopes that it will help others going into this process for the first time. 

Laptop open with text on the screen next to a second monitor and in front of a window.
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BIPOC Feature: Kiran Mansukhani

One of the things that I wanted to do with Notes From the Apotheke was to amplify the voices and contributions of BIPOC scholars in ancient Mediterranean studies, at all levels and from all backgrounds. BIPOC in the field are invited to reflect on what brought them to studying the ancient world, as well as offer their opinions on the future of the discipline and share any work they are especially proud of or excited about.

Check out the latest installment of this series — a post written by Kiran Mansukhani, a PhD student in Classics at Brown University!

Photo included with permission of the author.
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Research Trip 101: Permits (Hidden Curriculum #9)

For those of you who are new here, the hidden curriculum includes a set of things we’re expected to know how to do, from attending a conference for the first time to applying for funding to going on the job market, without actually being taught them. This month’s installment is all about research trips since I’m on my own trip right now!

Embarking on your very first research trip can feel overwhelming. It’s a long, tedious process with a lot of moving parts – no wonder I’ve gotten so many questions about it! In this post, I’m going to help you get started on that process.

In particular, I’ll show you exactly how to start applying for study permits and contacting the museums you want to visit.

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5 More Grad School Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

Another year, another grad school interview season underway.

This is (I think) the first year that my program (archaeology) and our department (Classical Studies) have decided to go their separate ways for recruitment. Last week was the department’s; in a few weeks will be my program’s.

I figured that now was as good a time as any to breach the subject (again). In case you missed last year’s installment, you can check out the first five questions I suggested here.

Last year’s post was centered primarily around considerations for BIPOC prospective students, including questions about interdisciplinarity, DEI approaches, and institutional support.

This year I thought more about questions that dig deeper into structural issues, such as pedagogical training, time to degree, and financial support.

A quick reminder: although some questions may seem best suited for faculty interviews, don’t forget to talk to current students! Current students are just as (if not more) valuable as sources of information about grad programs. And don’t just ask younger students – talk to the older ones, too!

I promise, we don’t bite.

Now, on to the questions.

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The Ultimate Checklist for Funding Applications

I think we can all agree that January is the Monday of the year. It didn’t really hit me until I started grad school and realized that there are a lot of things that happen in January. The biggest thing: funding application deadlines.

Image of one research trip that I was able to go on because of a successful funding application

January Application Deadlines

In case you don’t believe me, I have pulled from my masterpost of funding opportunities for BIPOC in Classics all of the ones that have deadlines in January. They are:

Helen Maria Chesnutt Scholarship for Equity in Classical Study. This scholarship is intended to support undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups to further their study of the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean world and not excluding reception studies. (15 January 2022)

William Sanders Scarborough Fellowship (ASCSA). This fellowship provides support for graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars in North America whose diverse experiences and backgrounds are underrepresented at the American School, and whose studies, research, or teaching would benefit from residency at the School. (15 January 2022)

Point Scholarship. The Point Foundation (Point) is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students of merit. Point Foundation considers many factors when assessing scholarship applicants, including academic performance, leadership skills, financial need, personal goals and the applicant’s involvement in the LGBTQ community. (26 January 2022)

Rudolph Masciantonio CAMWS Diversity Award (CAMWS). Awardees will be those whom the profession or life circumstances or  societal structures have limited in their access to the study of our field. Awarded each year to one undergraduate and one graduate student. (31 January 2022)

Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship. The Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship (HUGS) intends to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities obtaining degrees in archaeology. Graduate and undergraduate students.  (31 January 2022)

Native American Scholarships Fund (NASF). An endowment established to foster a sense of shared purpose and positive interaction between archaeologists and Native Americans. It supports the Arthur C. Parker Scholarship for Archaeological Training for Native Americans and the SAA Native American Undergraduate and Graduate Archaeology Scholarships. Undergraduate and graduate student funding. (31 January 2022)

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