Meet Our New Graduate Student Assistants!

As we gear up to kick off the Spring semester with fabulous workshops, consultations, lectures, and funding opportunities, we at the CDH wanted to give you the chance to meet our two new graduate assistants. Read their guest blog posts below to learn more about their research and what led them to work with the CDH, and be sure to look for them around campus!


My name is Deborah Schlein and I am a fifth-year PhD student in Near Eastern Studies. I study the history of medicine in the Islamic world, particularly in South Asia, and my research focuses on the reception of Arabic and Persian medical manuscripts in India. Much of what I do for my dissertation entails me staring intensely at manuscript marginalia and ownership notes to decipher how the manuscripts were used and by whom. It’s a bit of a staring showdown - sometimes I win and learn things, sometimes the manuscripts win, and I have to wait another day for them to yield their secrets to me.

In my free time I enjoy belting Broadway tunes and Bollywood songs at the top of my lungs in my kitchen, cooking, and dancing. I am good at some of these things some of the time.

My professional background has mostly been in museum work, and I am interested in a career in libraries, archives, or museums. I would love to work further with manuscripts and teach the general public about Islamic history. I also understand that the future of the humanities is digital, and I am here at the CDH to learn how best to use the digital humanities to further the achievements of the humanities more generally, and my department in particular. For example, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and other languages utilizing Arabo-Persian script have a long way to go in terms of digital humanities projects, and I hope to help educate my NES colleagues on how much we can do with the digital skills we can acquire at centers like the CDH.

As one of two graduate assistants this semester (Yay Cecilia! NES represent!), I hope to help the center extend their programs to a wider audience and put together more outreach programs, as well as learn a thing or two along the way about how best to apply digital humanities skills in my field.

My experiences at the CDH thus far have been both fun and enlightening, and I’m looking forward to learning some new skills and getting to know everyone here.


I’m Cecilia Palombo, a fourth-year PhD student in the Near Eastern Studies Department. I have just joined the CDH as a graduate assistant, and I am looking forward to becoming a part of the CDH community. Together with Deborah I will give a hand managing events, publicity, communications, and helping out to make everything run smoothly at the CDH!

My own research focuses on questions of social relations and state formation in the early Islamic period. I spend lots of my time travelling in Europe and the Middle East, trying out different cuisines, and struggling to decode early Islamic documents written in a bunch of different languages. I have been exposed to DH thanks to exciting projects in Middle Eastern studies that deal with the creation of open-access repositories of sources from the pre-modern period, morphological tagging, and text reuse detection.

I am very happy to have the opportunity to work with the CDH this year, and I am looking forward to learning more about all the innovative projects carried out by this vibrant group of scholars and students.

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