Postdoctoral fellow supervisor (of Christina Geisen)
Faculty member, Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
I received my BA from Loyola College (now part of Concordia University) in Montreal in 1971 and my PhD in Egyptology from the University of Toronto in 1980. After doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I went to Cairo to be the first Director of the Canadian Institute in Egypt.
Lately, my research has focused on how the early ancient Egyptians used their sacred stories (what we dismissively call "mythology") to anchor the role of the king into the social fabric, as well as the integration of texts and images in scenes carved on the walls of tombs or temples.
I have been at U of T for 30 years. The use of computers for word processing and of search engines to gather and store information has to be one of the biggest changes over the years. The students are as smart, inquisitive, diligent, and dedicated as they ever were.
The main difference I see between doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows is that the latter have already cut their teeth on at least one major piece of work and are much more independent. Because they're not worried about grades and exams, etc., the academic exchanges are more rewarding for both fellows and their supervisors. Essentially, I see postdoctoral fellows as junior colleagues.
Because of the wonderfully high calibre of the faculty at U of T, the postdoctoral fellows we get just seem to be much stronger and more daring. And of course the library resources at U of T are first-rate, which means their research can be that much more up-to-date.
Because of the kinds of graduate students we get at U of T, they're forging collegial bonds with people who will go on to great academic careers. The friendships graduate students make here will form their network throughout their career.
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