2023-24 Fellowships and Scholarships Recipients

Published: May 31, 2024

The UCLA SNF Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture provides several fellowships and scholarships that allow UCLA students to advance their studies and research. We are pleased to congratulate the following 2024 recipients:

James and Carolyn Kolokotrones Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship

Paul Melas is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UCLA. His dissertation, titled Caring for the Spirit: Camaraderie and Asceticism on the Holy Mountain, attends to the contemporary condition of the Orthodox Christian monastic community of Mount Athos, Greece. This work conceptualizes Mount Athos as a bordered but inherently connected space, and investigates the communicative, material and symbolic circuits which connect its members to individuals and groups in the “outside world.” For a total of fourteen months between 2022 and 2023, he conducted ethnographic fieldwork for this project in several Athonite monasteries and in Athonite dependency parishes in Greece, Finland and Türkiye. Research participants included Athonite monks and novices, pilgrims, wage-laborers on the Athonite peninsula, and dependency parishioners (both men and women). Generously supported by the James and Carolyn Kolokotrones Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship, in the summer of 2024 he will conduct several months of ethnographic research in two additional Athonite dependency parishes in Athens, Greece where he intends to interview women who have cultivated relationships with particular monks and monasteries. In light of the ‘Law of Avaton,’ which denies ‘women’ entry into the Athonite peninsula but does not foreclose to them the opportunity to engage in certain modes of Orthodox devotion centered around Mount Athos, this research will reveal an important and indeed surprising aspect of the monastic community’s broader relational network.

Luis Rodriguez-Perez, a graduate student in the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, will be undertaking during summer 2024 severalprojects both within and outside of Greece. First, he will be joining Gefyra, an initiative between UCLA and Simon Fraser University, which is currently working on several cultural heritage projects in the village of Geraki, Laconia. Afterwards, he will be joining the excavations at the Athenian Agora as a digital technician and archaeologist. During the excavations, he will also be working on his master’s thesis which is centered on the Odeion of Agrippa in the Athenian Agora. This early Roman-period building is in the center of Athens, which marks Rome’s early envelopment of the city within its larger empire. For this project, he will be visiting the libraries at the American School of Classical Studies as a visiting student. After the Athenian Agora excavations, he will briefly join excavations at the Roman site of Industria, Italy, before returning to Athens to finish his thesis.

 Peter and Vivi Demopoulos Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship

As a Ph.D. student in the UCLA Interdepartmental Archaeology Graduate Program, Katrina Kuxhausen-Derose is pursuing a professorial career in classical archaeology focused on education, the reclamation of cultural heritage, and the preservation of material culture. This summer, she plans to explore ancient cultural heritage sites and participate in excavations at the Athenian Agora through the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA).

At the Athenian Agora excavations, Kuxhausen-Derose will receive training in advanced scientific techniques and a chance to improve her leadership skills. In the field lab, she will use paleoethnobotanical flotation and osteological analysis to ascertain human-environment interactions in the past (agriculture, nutrition, etc.). As a trench supervisor, she will be able to instruct students on proper excavation methods and guide them towards success.

Additionally, she will pursue her own research interests by traveling to cultural heritage sites, museums, and repositories. The heart of her inquiry lies in the reuse of architectural materials over time and space, as she believes reuse is one of the most important ways in which humans ground the past in our current reality. In preparation for her dissertation and her Graduate Research Mentorship project, she will familiarize herself with the extensive collections and resources available through the ASCSA. By traveling to ancient Greek UNESCO World Heritage sites with evidence of recycling and cross-cultural interaction, she hopes to learn about complicated cultural heritage research and site preservation.

Daisy Stock, a graduate student in the UCLA Department of Material Science and Engineering, investigates the historical use of marine resources in Minoan mud brick constructions on the island of Crete. By examining structures left at significant Minoan sites, she will evaluate how seagrass Posidonia oceanica (PO) fortified mud-brick formulations were used in construction. Her research focuses on the mechanical properties and environmental impact of these building materials. The support of the Peter and Vivi Demopoulos Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship takes her research out of the theoretical and into the field, where she will assess the uses of these native plants in situ. This research also extends into utilizing PO fibers in recreations and new formulations of mud brick to further characterize and understand techniques of the time. Through laboratory tests and fieldwork, Daisy aims to understand how ancient techniques were influenced by marine resources in an island community and how this knowledge was shared across the region. Additionally, her study will explore how these ancient construction practices can inform modern sustainable building methods, and explore uses in the restoration of historic structures in Greece. Daisy’s research seeks to bridge past wisdom with future aspirations, contributing to sustainable development through highlighting the innovative use of natural resources in local architecture. 

George Olympios Family Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship

Nicolyna Enriquez is a Ph.D. Candidate in Byzantine Art History at UCLA studying under Professor Sharon Gerstel. Her dissertation, “Surrounded by Sea, Rooted in Land: An Environmental History of Late Byzantine Art on Crete,” brings together visual imagery, architectural studies, archaeological research, and topographical analysis to explore how rural Cretan villagers in late Byzantium experienced and interacted with their insular environment. With the George Olympios Family Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship, she will continue to conduct on-site analysis on Late Byzantine churches in the provinces of Selino and Pediada on the island of Crete. As part of her field research, she will walk along the pathways which connect these churches and settlements, mapping the routes and sites with the goal of gathering this information into a publishable Geographic Information System (GIS) data set.

 Finally, as many of these churches are difficult to gain entry to or access, she will also use the Olympios Fellowship to continue to test a new technology for the study of churches in the field. Using a LiDAR sensor, she will create digital 3-D models of every church that she visits. Using an iPad (or VR Goggles), anyone, with a few simple hand gestures, can walk around, enter, and explore these churches from anywhere in the world. She is excited to continue building a database of these scans in order to bring these incredible churches to life for students of all ages.

Christine Muron is a graduate student in the UCLA Department of Art History. The support provided by the George and Barbara Olympios Family Endowed Graduate Research Fellowship will allow her the opportunity to study the art and material culture of healing in various museums and sites in Greece. This research forms a segment of her dissertation that explores the relationship between religion and medicine in Byzantium, particularly how cures for the physical body were believed to be inextricably linked to the soul and how healing practices changed over time. First, she will investigate pharmaceutical vessels, instruments, and substances that are often rendered in Byzantine frescoes, vernacular manuscripts, and hagiographical texts. At the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth, for instance, she will analyze an assemblage of apothecary jars and glass vessels from a context dating to the 13th-century Frankish occupation of the city. These containers not only shed light on the existence of an infirmary in an urban center, but they are also found illustrated alongside healing saints in rural Byzantine churches. Next, she will visit museum collections that are associated with the healing shrines of St. Nikon Metanoeite in Sparta and St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki. By studying other types of material culture like reliquaries and ampullae, she aims to understand how healing cults grow and spread beyond their respective shrines. The Fellowship will foster her multidisciplinary approach to museum and archaeological collections in Greece. Muron looks forward to demonstrating how the material culture of healing speaks to the exchange of therapeutic and pharmaceutical knowledge among pilgrims, merchants, and crusaders in Byzantium.

Alexopoulos Fellowship

Arianna Konstantopoulos is a first-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She was born and raised in Boulder, CO and then moved to Baltimore, MD where she attended Johns Hopkins University and double majored in Public Health Studies and Natural Sciences. Her current interests include Orthopedics/Sports Medicine and the intersections between public health and medicine. At UCLA, she is a coordinator for the Orthopedic Surgery Interest Group, Sports Medicine Interest Group, Harm Reduction Student Interest Group, and the Student Admissions Representative Team. She’s also involved in firearm violence prevention research and orthopedics research. Outside of school, Konstantopoulos enjoys playing intramural sports at UCLA, including soccer and softball. As she looks forward to her career as a future physician, she hopes to provide outstanding clinical care as well as conduct meaningful, community-based research in medicine and public health. 


Vlahakis-Hanks Undergraduate Scholarship

As a sophomore at UCLA, Stella Anastasi’s academic journey has been inevitably tied to her relationships and experiences with the Hellenic Students’ Community (HSC). In spite of the fact that she is an Applied Mathematics major, her commitment to preserving and celebrating her Hellenic heritage has played a central role in her experience at UCLA.

Since the club’s inception in the Fall of 2022, she has held a board position, actively helping organize and carry out various cultural events and symposiums, bringing together both experienced and novice community members in engaging with Hellenic culture. Undertaking these initiatives serves not only to highlight her cultural heritage but also to foster a sense of unity and pride within the Hellenic community at UCLA. This is especially important to Anastasi, as, being the only Cypriot member, she feels it is her duty to bring Hellenes from different countries and backgrounds to strengthen further the student community.

With regard to her studies, and in parallel to her dedication to the HSC, Anastasi has continuously strived for academic excellence, notably by rapidly climbing to upper-division coursework as a second-year student, which presents a significant challenge. As a result, she has also become a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, which recognizes student excellence from the onset of higher education.