photo: standing in front of the imperial Sasanian monument known as Taq-e Bustan, Kermanshah, Iran, March 2018
Placing a high value on examining objects and monuments in person, I travel often. During my undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati I discovered the research travel grant, which gave me access for the first time to travel across Europe visiting countless museums and archaeological sites. I quickly realized the world of a difference it made to spend time with the objects and monuments I wanted to write about, whether this encompassed observing new details, having conversations with curators, or experiencing landscapes.
During my master’s studies at the Institute of Fine Arts-NYU I went on my first excavations in Turkey and then Egypt. I also took my first steps into Russia, falling head-over-heels in love with Eurasia as I rode the trans-Siberian-Mongolian railway from Saint Petersburg though Moscow, Irkutsk and Ulaanbaatar to Beijing.
As I started the PhD program at Cornell I continued to travel excavating in Uzbekistan, spending a summer undertaking pre-dissertation research at the Institute of Archaeology in Kyiv, Ukraine, and also simply getting to know the Eurasian landscape better, for example taking a hiking trip to the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan. In the last few years I have undertaken a number of two- to six-week fieldwork trips to visit museum collections and archaeological monuments. I have traveled to Iran twice, visiting major cities and their museum collections, journeyed through Fars and the Zagros mountains to see Sasanian monuments, and taught a writing workshop (Qom) and gave a lecture (Tabriz). Other regions I have undertaken significant research trips to in the last three years include Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Siberian Russia, Trans-Ural Russia, the Russian Northern Caucasus, and Uzbekistan.
Alongside short-term trips, I have spend two years during my doctoral program living abroad. I completed my second year of doctoral coursework (in German) in Halle, Germany at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. There I had the opportunity to work under the guidance of Dr. Prof. Markus Mode and take four courses a semester focused on the art and archaeology of Iran, Central Asia and the Steppe, a course line-up that is not available at any other university in the world. In the fourth year of my doctoral program I began researching for and writing my dissertation in Saint Petersburg, Russia based at the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and worked with the rich collection of Eurasian art at the State Hermitage Museum.