Graduate students in the Program for Ancient Philosophy belong to both Philosophy and Classical Studies, pursuing a PhD in the one they were originally admitted to and an MA in the other.

In addition, there are also students affiliated with the Program whose research centrally involves ancient philosophy and who are actively involved in our reading groups and colloquia, but who are just pursuing a PhD in one of the departments.

Justin Barney First year
Classical Studies PhD, Philosophy MA


  • Epicureanism
  • Presocratic philosophy
  • Ancient theories of perception
  • Poetry & philosophy

I am from Seattle, WA and received a B.A. in Classics and an M.A. in Comparative Studies from Brigham Young University. My most recent work has focused on Philodemus’ theory of perception, as set forth in the Herculaneum papyri (PHerc. 19/698). I am also interested in pre-Socratic cosmology, the origins of Greek philosophy, and the tension between traditional poets and philosophers. When I can, I like to read papyri and old manuscripts.

Tyler Mayo Third year
Classical Studies PhD, Philosophy MA


  • Pre-Socratic philosophy
  • Aristotle
  • Ancient historians of philosophy/doxography

I hail from Vermont and earned my B.A. at the University of Vermont. I am especially interested in the so-called Pre-Socratic philosophers and the various interpretive problems surrounding them. My interest in Aristotle, and especially Aristotle as historian of philosophy, originally stems from my interest in early Greek philosophy.

David Morphew Fourth year
Classical Studies PhD, Philosophy MA


  • Philosophy of mind in the ancient world
  • Philosophy and rhetoric
  • Late antique / early Christian reception

I am particularly interested in theories of desire and motivation and how that plays out in terms of the practical and theoretical life. I have found loose leaf teas and coffee to be great aids in my research on this topic. I also enjoy hiking outdoors while engaging in intellectual discussions.

Nicholas Rupert Sixth year
Classical Studies PhD, Philosophy MA


  • Plato
  • Literature and philosophy
  • Roman Stoicism

I joined the Department of Classical Studies in 2009 after completing degrees in English, classics, and philosophy at the University of Washington. My dissertation primarily treats Flavian Latin poetry, but it also engages Seneca, Epicureanism, and Stoicism. Under the direction of Professor Ahbel-Rappe, I’ve completed a preliminary examination on the development of thought experiments in Plato.

Umer Shaikh Fourth year
Philosophy PhD, Greek MA


  • Aristotle’s metaphysics and philosophy of science
  • Plato’s middle dialogues
  • Ancient logic and mathematics

My primary interests are in Aristotelian metaphysics and philosophy of science; at the moment I am thinking about the relationships between scientific explanation and the classic concepts in Aristotelian metaphysics (substance, essence, form, matter, potentiality, actuality, etc.). Secondary interests are ancient metaphysics more generally and the development of logic and mathematics, including ancient philosophical reflection on them.

I believe that interaction between history of philosophy and contemporary philosophy is very fruitful for both fields; as such I hope to do theoretically sophisticated historical work and try to maintain some competence in the contemporary analogues of the historical areas I have listed.

Van Tu Second year
Philosophy PhD, Greek MA


  • Ancient Moral Psychology
  • Aristotelian Metaphysics and Natural Philosophy
  • Aristotelian Virtue Ethics

I am interested in all aspects of ancient Greek philosophy, but the two areas that I tend to gravitate towards are moral psychology and natural philosophy. My research on ancient moral psychology focuses primarily on Plato’s theory of motivation, especially his view on the possibility of akrasia. I also maintain an interest in Aristotle’s as well as the Stoics’ theories and positions on the issue. My interest in Aristotle’s natural philosophy has to do with his account of causation with a special emphasis on the role that explanation and teleology play in his science of nature. My research on this topic thus far is concerned with distinguishing true causes from accidental ones by appealing to the notion of scientific explanation. Finally, I maintain a general interest in Aristotelian virtue ethics, mainly on the concept of a prohairesis in Aristotle’s theory of decision.