Spotlight on… Anouk Vermeulen

picture of AnoukIf you see someone running around smiling like a fool, that’s probably me!

Hi, my name is Anouk Vermeulen, and I’m a third year PhD student. I’m working on Roman land division, comparing the available evidence from field surveys etc. with the field systems identified from aerial photos in the seventies and eighties. I’m mainly looking at the how and why behind the settlement patterns, and so far it appears that the reality does not meet the idealistic standards in the minds of either ancient or modern scholars – no surprise there, does reality ever live up to the ideal?! I work a lot with GIS, a computer program to help create your own maps, which is quite complicated for someone like me, who knows next to nothing about maths and statistics and stuff. My first case study took me over a year, though by now I think I’m sort of getting there. And at least, if all else fails, I’ll have really awesome maps in my thesis!

This year I am also one of the PG Representatives, together with Ellen MacDougall. We do our best to make life as a Classics PhD student in St Andrews as comfortable as possible by organising loads of fun stuff along with dealing with complaints and issues that come up during the year. We’re organising a special PG seminar series, held once a week during term time, in which some of us present work, practise conference papers, and discuss ideas. As a part of this seminar series, we organise so-called Skills Sessions, in which we ask staff members to talk about certain key skills, such as writing abstracts, teaching, and asking good questions after seminars. These sessions are very useful, and it is nice to hear staff members talk about things they do all the time and hear how they deal with it (or have dealt with it in the past) on a regular basis. It gives the opportunity to ask all the silly, simple questions you always wanted to ask but never dared, and you get a good answer as well.

Finally, together with Michael Furman, I’m organising a series of debates about the current state of affairs within humanities or academia as a whole, titled the Mount Olympus Debates. The first debate will take place on Tuesday February 18th, and discusses the role recent digitization plays in the humanities. Issues like growing use of internet and digital resources will be discussed, as well as how all this computer stuff can help our research – or is it really the end? Other debates focus on the position of women in academia – mainly on the question if we should still be concerned with this or if the emancipation of women is completed – and the future of the humanities.

It’s a very busy life, but I love a challenge, and I love everything I’m doing. I wouldn’t know what to cut out!

Anouk Vermeulen, PhD student, University of St. Andrews

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