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Jewish Studies Program Alumni

  • Marc Beherec, Ph.D.

    Marc Beherec, Ph.D.

    Anthropology (Archaeology), 2011

    Dissertation: "Nomads in Transition: Mortuary Archaeology in the Lowlands of Edom (Jordan)"

    Marc defended his dissertation in 2011; his advisor was Thomas Levy. He subsequently joined AECOM, a publicly-traded international Fortune 500 company based in Los Angeles, and one of the largest full-service planning, engineering, and construction firms in the world. Marc serves as cultural resources project manager for the Los Angeles office, where he leads a team of specialists who conduct cultural resources inventories and impact analyses, cultural resources construction monitoring, site eligibility testing, Native American coordination, and archaeological data recovery excavations in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. He is an active member of the Society for California Archaeology and a frequent contributor the organization’s annual conference and Proceedings.
  • Erez Ben-Yosef, Ph.D.

    Erez Ben-Yosef, Ph.D.

    Anthropology (Archaeology), 2010

    Dissertation: "Technology and Social Process : Oscillations in Iron Age Copper Production and Power in Southern Jordan"

    After defending his dissertation in 2010, Erez conducted a post-doctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) focusing on the ancient copper mines of Cyprus. Since 2011 he has taught in the Department of Archaeology and the Graduate Program in Archaeology and Archaeomaterials at Tel Aviv University. He is the head of the Levantine Archaeometallurgy Laboratory, and the director of the Central Timna Valley Project (CTV), a multi-year multidisciplinary research targeting various aspects of the archaeological record in the vicinity of the copper ore deposits of the southern Aravah, Israel ( The first phase of the CTV project focuses on copper production at the time of ancient Israel (the United Monarchy) and the early Edomite Kingdom.

  • Margie Burton, Ph.D.

    Margie Burton, Ph.D.

    Anthropology, 2004

    Dissertation: "Collapse, Continuity, and Transformation:  Tracking Protohistoric Social Change Through Ceramic Analysis. Case Studies of Late 5th-Early 4th Millennium Societies in the Southern Levant"

    Margie Burton received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of California San Diego in 2004. She is currently Program Manager for the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability at the Qualcomm Institute and for the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology. From 2005-2014 she was Research Director at the San Diego Archaeological Center, a non-profit curatorial, education and research organization located in Escondido. Her main research interests are ceramic and ground stone technologies and their relationship to socio-economic change. She has worked on archaeological projects in the southern Levant and southern California. She earned her BA from Stanford University in Cultural and Social Anthropology (jointly with a BS in Biological Sciences) and her MBA from UC Berkeley. For recent publications, see

  • Jane Coulter, Ph.D.

    Jane Coulter, Ph.D.

    Literature, 2017

    Dissertation: "Modernist Pedagogy: Educational Experiments in Immigrant Fiction; or Making Jewish Immigrants American in the Progressive Era"

    Jane Coulter researches Jewish immigrant modernists in the Progressive era. Her analysis of novels concerned with and written by Jewish immigrants delineates how cultural identity, including religion, can texture claims about modernism and modernity. In particular, her research focuses on the work of Anzia Yezierska, Henry Roth, and Gertrude Stein. Coulter’s dissertation proposes a new connection between the Progressive era discourse that shaped immigrant education and the field of ethnic modernism. Her work examines what she considers the modernist pedagogy of interwar novels of the 1920s and 1930s.

  • Julia Fermentto, Ph.D. Candidate

    Julia Fermentto, Ph.D. Candidate

    Literature, 2020

    Dissertation: "Like This They Now Die Everywhere: The Poetics of Animal Slaughtering in 20th Century Jewish-American Literature"

    Julia Fermentto-Tzaisler is a Ph.D candidate at the literature department, working on early 20th century Jewish-American literature in English and Yiddish. She is writing her dissertation about the metaphor of meat in American Yiddish poetry of the first half of the 20th century, and its connections to the industrialization of the meat industry, the raise of Nazism, and race violence in America. Julia is also a fiction writer; in 2016, she won the Israeli Ministry of Culture Award for Young Authors.

  • Daniel Frese, Ph.D.

    Daniel Frese, Ph.D.

    History (Ancient Israelite), 2012

    Dissertation: "The Civic Forum in Ancient Israel: The Form, Function, and Symbolism of City Gates"

    Daniel graduated in 2012 from the History Department with a Ph.D. in ancient Israelite history. His dissertation was entitled "The Civic Forum in Ancient Israel: The Form, Function, and Symbolism of City Gates," and was co-directed by William Propp (History) and Tom Levy (Anthropology). Since graduating, Daniel has been a Visiting Scholar in Judaic Studies and Visiting Assistant Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at Franklin & Marshall College, and is currently Assistant Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Kentucky. Daniel's research focuses broadly on the social and religious history of the southern Levant during the Iron Age, including art and architecture, the Hebrew Bible, and archaeology. 

  • Aaron Gidding, Ph.D.

    Aaron Gidding, Ph.D.

    Anthropology, 2016

    Dissertation: "Approaches to Production and Distribution in Anthropological Archaeology: Views from the Early Bronze Age of Jordan and Israel"

    Aaron Gidding is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and an Associate Researcher in the Institute for Social, Behavioral and Economic Research at UC, Santa Barbara. Aaron worked over a decade with Prof. Tom Levy on excavations in the Faynan region. His dissertation focused on understanding the organization of labor and production at the copper manufactory Khirbat Hamra Ifdan. Dating to the terminal phase of the Early Bronze Age, the work at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan further developed our understanding of the way that pastoralists managed early intensive copper production. Currently he is developing a project to sample copper production sites in the Arava Valley in Israel. This work will continue his primary research interests: the origins of long-distance commodity exchange and the socio-political contexts that enable communication-less trade. Other research interests include digital methods in archaeology, archaeomagnetism, radiocarbon and archaeometallurgy.

  • Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Candidate

    Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Candidate

    Anthropology (Archaeology)

    Andrew Johnson is a PhD student in Archaeology attending UC San Diego.  In 2016 he received his B.A. from UC San Diego in Anthropology with a Concentration in Archaeology and in 2019 received his M.A. from the University of Haifa in Maritime Civilizations.  While in his undergraduate work, Andrew became involved in the $1 million, two-year UCOP Catalyst grant for At-Risk World Heritage and the Digital Humanities under Thomas E. Levy.  Partnering with Dr. Stephen Savage from ASU, Andrew was able to co-lead a project known as TerraWatchers which recruited undergraduate students from UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Merced, and UC Berkley to participate in citizen science to help monitor at risk sites in the middle east.  The project was run with UC San Diego and the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and produced thousands of observations in the TerraWatchers mission as well as a publication.  Andrew has presented the TerraWatchers work at the Faculty Mentor Program symposium at UC San Diego, the Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program (FISP), and at CAA 2017 conference in Atlanta Georgia.  Andrew is a member of the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability (CCAS) and the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology (SCMA).  Andrew worked on the excavation at Kastrouli in Greece in 2016 under the direction of Thomas E. Levy from UC San Diego and Ioannis Loritzis of the University of the Aegean.  He has also participated in 6 excavations in Israel, including 2 underwater excavations at Tel-Dor.  Andrew’s primary area of interest is Mycenaean Greece.

  • Ian William Nasser Jones, Ph.D.

    Ian William Nasser Jones, Ph.D.

    Anthropology, 2018

    Dissertation: "Archaeology, Society, and Small-Scale Industry: Social Approaches to Middle Islamic Period Copper Production in Southern Jordan"

    Ian W. N. Jones received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California San Diego in 2018. He is currently a lecturer in the UC San Diego Department of Anthropology. Since 2009, he has conducted archaeological field research in Jordan and Israel. During his dissertation research, he worked primarily as part of the UC San Diego Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project, a deep-time study of copper production in the Faynan region of southern Jordan, and in 2017 he joined the Balu'a Regional Archaeology Project, an interdisciplinary study of Khirbat al-Balu'a, a large, multiperiod archaeological site on the Karak Plateau in central Jordan. In his research, he investigates labor, daily life, and political economy in the Islamic period southern Levant, with a particular focus on the medieval copper and sugar industries. As part of this research, he is also interested in human-environment interactions and digital archaeology, particularly the use of geospatial technologies in archaeology.

    Photo credit: Sarah Harpending, ACOR Jordan

  • Margarita Levantovskaya, Ph.D.

    Margarita Levantovskaya, Ph.D.

    Literature, 2013

    Dissertation: "Rootless Cosmopolitans: Literature of the Soviet-Jewish Diaspora"

    After defending her dissertation in 2013, Margarita (Maggie) Levantovskaya began teaching in the department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There she teaches courses on post-Soviet culture, Russian language, and twentieth-century Jewish literature and film. Her current research project examines representations of cultural identity and diaspora in contemporary fiction about the migration of Russian-speaking Jews in the late-twentieth century. She is particularly interested in the work of Russian, Russian-Israeli and Russian-American authors. Her project interrogates the place of Jews in the larger Russophone diaspora and highlights the ways in which ex-Soviet Jews challenge traditional conceptions of Jewish diaspora. Maggie is also conducting research on "experiments with autobiography" in the work of Russian-Jewish fiction writers and visual artists.

  • Sarah Lynn Malena, Ph.D.

    Sarah Lynn Malena, Ph.D.

    History, 2015

    Dissertation: "Fertile Crossroads: The Growth and Influence of Interregional Exchange in the Southern Levant's Iron Age I-IIA Transition, Examined through Biblical, Epigraphic, and Archaeological Sources"

    Sarah is Assistant Professor of History at St. Mary's College of Maryland, where she teaches courses on ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern history and cultures. Prior to that, Sarah was Assistant Professor and Chair of the Study of Religion at Wells College, where she taught courses on myth and religion in the ancient world. Sarah investigates intercultural relations in the Iron Age. She draws on archaeological, historical, and literary materials to understand the emergence of Iron Age states, identity creation, and cultural innovation. Sarah's work is thoroughly interdisciplinary and incorporates topics as diverse as Jordan's copper industry, elite and scribal cultures, biblical literature, and cultural memory. Her recent projects focus on the significance of writing in the early Iron Age and relations between Egypt and Jerusalem. 

  • Sarika Talve-Goodman, Ph.D.

    Sarika Talve-Goodman, Ph.D.

    Literature, 2016

    Dissertation: "Cultural Scars: The Poetics of Trauma and Disability in 20th Century Jewish Literature"

    Sarika Talve-Goodman is currently researching issues of trauma and the politics of historical memory in transnational Jewish literature and culture, from the modernist period to the present. She holds an MS in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, an interdisciplinary field that examines the role of narrative and storytelling in health care. She received a Fulbright scholarship to conduct dissertation research on how issues of power and identity shape narrative medicine practices in Israel.