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Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities: 2015-2016

Eli Alshanetsky

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

Articulating a Thought

Alshanetsky received a PhD in philosophy from New York University in 2014 and a BA in philosophy and cognitive science from UC Berkeley. Before coming to Stanford, he spent a year as a lecturer at NYU. His primary research and teaching interests are in the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and cognitive science. Alshanetsky’s project explores a nexus of issues concerning thought, expression, and self-knowledge. He is currently completing a book that investigates how we come to know our own thoughts in the process of putting them into words, and how we gain a better understanding of our own mental states by expressing them in a public medium.

Anne Austin

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

History, 2014-2016

Anne Austin received her PhD from UCLA in the Interdepartmental Archaeology Program where she focused on bioarchaeology in ancient Egypt. Through research on both texts and human remains, she reconstructs ancient Egyptian health care networks and identifies the diseases and illnesses people experienced during the New Kingdom (1550-1080 B.C.E.).

In her current research project, Contending with Illness in Ancient Egypt, she documents health and disease at Deir el-Medina—the village of the workmen who built the tombs of the pharaohs during Egypt’s New Kingdom period (1550-1080 B.C.E.)—through combining analysis of personal letters, administrative records, and medical texts with osteological research on the unpublished human remains at the site. These two data sets offer access into one of the world’s oldest health care systems, allowing us unique insight into the care and medicine used to survive in the ancient world. 

Austin led the first detailed study of human remains at an ancient Egyptian site. 


Rebekah Baglini

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Linguistics, Stanford University

States in Semantic Ontology 

Rebekah Baglini received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Chicago in 2015. Baglini's research, growing out of her dissertation “Stative Predication and Semantic Ontology,” centers on lexical semantics and cross-linguistic variation.  Of special interest is the way that languages encode 'stative concepts'—a set of universal concepts relating to abstract properties realized by entities in the world, including dimension, age, speed, value, and color. Baglini was the Bloch Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America, from March 2011 to March 2013 and previously worked as a Visiting Lecturer in Linguistics at UC San Diego. Her dissertation fieldwork on Wolof in Senegal was supported by an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.  


Willie Costello

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

From Causes to Forms: The Phaedo and the Foundations of Platonic Metaphysics

Willie Costello received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2015. Costello specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, with particular interests in ancient Greek metaphysics and Plato. His main body of research explores how ancient thinkers from the Presocratics to Aristotle sought to explain the structure and composition of ordinary objects. He is especially interested in clarifying how Plato fits into this tradition, and showing how Plato's conception of Forms was developed against this background. He is currently developing this work into a monograph, titled The causal origins of Plato's Forms: The natural philosophy of the Phaedo and its context.

Catherine Kearns

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Classics, 2015-2017

Catherine Kearns is a classical archaeologist focusing on first-millennium BCE landscape change in the ancient Mediterranean.  She earned her Ph.D. in classics from Cornell University, and has done fieldwork in Italy, Jordan, Armenia, and Cyprus, where she did research as a Fulbright scholar.  Her interdisciplinary work resides at the intersections of classics, anthropology, geography, and environmental history. Kearn's book project, "Unruly Landscapes: the Making of First-Millennium BCE Polities in the Eastern Mediterranean," examines the complicated human-environment relationships that reproduced new societies during the early Iron Age (1100-700 BCE), a period marked by dramatic shifts in political form, materialities, and environments.  In her major case study on the island of Cyprus, she integrates archaeological and textual material, spatial analysis, and paleoenvironmental data to investigate diachronic shifts in settlements, salient places, and land management.  Her book will confront long-standing assumptions about the central role of the city in Iron Age state formation by showing the efficacy of increasingly complex landscape and place-making practices in shaping diverse polities.