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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The Productivity Systems that Keep Me on Track

Over the last seven years of my life (aka The PhD Years), I don’t think I developed any long-lasting systems of productivity. I tried a lot of things, but nothing ever stuck for long.

Now that I’m a professor, I feel like systems are the only way I get anything done these days. They’re also how I make sure that most things don’t slip through the cracks.

In this week’s post, I summarize some of the most useful systems I’ve developed over the first semester of my first year on the tenure track. Although I use them in my life as a professor, many can also be useful for students and other academics.

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Why I Don’t Use Citation Managers

It wasn’t until I tried using a citation manager that I realized that I am not a citation manager person.

No, I won’t apologize for my choices, or my opinions about citation managers. And I can honestly say that I made it to the end of my PhD without changing my mind.

One additional caveat: despite my anti-citation manager stance, I have no problem with people who use them! You do you! Everyone’s experience with them is different, and I 100% can accept that. Hopefully you can, too. Otherwise, I’m not sure why you’re here.

So, why don’t I use a citation manager? Read on to find out!

Black woman wearing dark glasses and a black turtleneck working on a computer at a table.
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5 Questions All New Faculty Should Ask

Nearly two months in and it’s finally starting to feel real – I’m a faculty member!

A few months ago, I ran a workshop on rubrics and participated in a colloquium hosted by Peopling the Past. At the colloquium, I reflected on this blog and the work that I’ve been able to do with it. I especially highlighted the hidden curriculum and BIPOC feature series.

My presentation received a generally favorable response. One person asked whether I would begin incorporating posts on the hidden curriculum aspects of being a new faculty member.

At the time, I couldn’t imagine what that would look like. I hadn’t yet started my new job, so I didn’t know yet what I didn’t know.

Although many of my questions have been answered, there are still things I figured out on my own.

This week’s post highlights some of the questions that I asked as I started my new faculty job.

Black woman standing in front of a wall, wearing a black and white blazer and black pants and holding a brown bag.
Me on my very first day of teaching as an assistant professor!
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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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The Truth About Grad School Funding

Reflecting on my experience with funding in grad school, I wondered: what does “fully funded” grad program really mean?

Now that I’m on the other side of it, I think that the “fully funded” PhD programs that my professors told me to apply to are really a myth. No grad program will support you financially 100% of the time. It’s more like somewhere between 70-80%.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out how to make up for the remainder. This could involve anything from applying for fellowships to getting a part-time job.

There are so many moving parts when it comes to funding in grad school. In this week’s post, I’m reflecting on my own experience with funding as a grad student. I’m also sharing some things to consider so that your own experiences are as painless as possible.

Legs crossed on the ground with a clear Starbucks cup in front of them
Contemplating my life choices on a visit to UCLA ca. 2016
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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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BIPOC Feature: Hardeep Singh Dhindsa

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 Hardeep Singh Dhindsa, a third year Classics PhD student in the UK and art historian of Early Modern Europe whose work interrogates the role Classics has played in the development of (white) British identity.

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Rubrics: The Ultimate Tool for Efficient and Equitable Grading

A month ago, I participated in the Presenting the Past Colloquium organized by Peopling the Past. The colloquium was held in Vancouver, British Columbia from March 23-25, 2023. The day before the colloquium started, I was also asked to organize a workshop on some topic related to pedagogy for the Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies (AMNE) department at the University of British Columbia. The topic I chose was rubrics.

Black hand holding pamphlet that reads "Presenting the Past: Responsible Engagement & Mediterranean History" in front of an urban landscape.

In all honesty, I’ve never been the instructor of record for a course before. Therefore, I rarely had any agency over the grading scheme used in those courses.

As a graduate student I was a teaching assistant for five courses and only two incorporated rubrics. In this week’s post, I want to reflect on my experience with rubrics; how rubrics fit into my overall teaching philosophy; and some of the major takeaways from the workshop I facilitated at UBC.

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