Mentor Bios

  • Photo of Dr. Kathlyn (Kara) Cooney

    Dr. Kathlyn (Kara) Cooney

    Dr Kara is a professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. Cooney’s research in coffin reuse, primarily focusing on the 21st Dynasty, is ongoing. Her research investigates the socioeconomic and political turmoil that have plagued the period, ultimately affecting funerary and burial practices in ancient Egypt. This project has taken her around the world over the span of five to six years to study and document more than 300 coffins in collections around the world, including Cairo, London, Paris, Berlin, and Vatican City. Her first trade book, The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt is an illuminating biography of its least well-known female king and was published in 2014 by Crown Publishing Group. Her latest book, When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt, was published in 2018 by National Geographic Press.

  • Photo of Dr. Mario Beatty

    Dr. Mario Beatty

    Dr. Mario Beatty, Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies at Howard University, received his B.A. degree in Black World Studies at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, his M.A. degree in Black Studies at The Ohio State University, and his Ph.D. degree in African-American Studies at Temple University. He has taught at Morris Brown College, Bowie State University, and he served as Chairperson of the Department of African-American Studies at Chicago State University from 2007 to 2010. From 2004 to 2007, he served as an educational consultant for the School District of Philadelphia where he helped to write curriculum and to train teachers in the novel, district-wide mandatory course in African-American history. He currently serves as President of The Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). His research interests include the Ancient Egyptian language, history, wisdom literature, astronomy in Ancient Egyptian religious texts, comparative analyses of African cultures, the image and use of ancient Africa in the African-American historical imagination, the theory and practice of African-American Studies, and Pan-Africanism.

  • Photo of Dr. Jonathan Winnerman

    Dr. Jonathan Winnerman

    Dr. Jonathan Winnerman is an Academic Administrator in Ancient Studies at UCLA. He graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, where he received his MA and PhD in Egyptology. A specialist in ancient Egyptian language and visual culture, his research focuses on different approaches to the interpretation of ancient Egyptian religion. His dissertation, titled “Rethinking the Royal Ka,” examined divine kingship in the New Kingdom and argued against a single, paradigmatic approach to the divinity of the pharaoh. Instead, he advocated for a multifaceted examination of the divine nature of the king as well as an analysis of the social dynamics that created and maintained divine kingship. Jonathan is currently working on an expansion of his dissertation project, which will further develop this study of divine kingship as a social phenomenon during the 18th and 19th dynasties. His other research interests include Political Theology and its application to ancient Egypt, ancient Egyptian cryptographic texts, and the ethics of scholarship. He has worked in Egypt for many years, most notably with the Tell Edfu Project and as an epigrapher with the Epigraphic Survey in Luxor. Back in Chicago, Jonathan also contributed to the Chicago Demotic Dictionary Project and trained with the Writing Program as a specialist in writing pedagogy. epigrapher with the Epigraphic Survey in Luxor. Back in Chicago, Jonathan also contributed to the Chicago Demotic Dictionary Project and trained with the Writing Program as a specialist in writing pedagogy.

  • Photo of Dr. Solange Ashby

    Dr. Solange Ashby

    Solange Ashby received her Ph.D. in Egyptology with a specialization in ancient Egyptian language and Nubian religion from the University of Chicago. Dr. Ashby’s expertise in sacred ancient languages including Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Coptic, Ethiopic, Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew underpins her research into the history of religious transformation in Northeast Africa and the Middle East. Her first book, Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence at Philae, explores the temple of Philae’s history as a Nubian sacred site.

    Dr. Ashby has been awarded a President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California – Los Angeles. Her current research describes the roles of women – queens, priestesses, mothers – in traditional Nubian religious practices. In 2023, Dr. Ashby will join the faculty of the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA where she will teach Egyptology and Nubian Studies.

    She is a founding member of the William Leo Hansberry Society which seeks to create pathways for people of African descent – on the continent and in the diaspora – to engage in the study of African antiquity.

  • Photo of Dr Rita Lucarelli

    Dr Rita Lucarelli

    Rita Lucarelli studied at the University of Naples “L’Orientale,” Italy, where she received her MA degree in Classical Languages and Egyptology. She holds her Ph.D. from Leiden University, the Netherlands.  Her Ph.D. thesis was published as The Book of the Dead of Gatseshen: Ancient Egyptian Funerary Religion in the 10th Century BC. She worked as a Research Scholar and a Lecturer at the Department of Egyptology of Bonn University, where she was part of the team of the “Book of the Dead Project”. She is currently an Associate Professor of Egyptology at UC Berkeley and Faculty Curator of Egyptology at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology of the University of California, Berkeley and Fellow of the Digital Humanities in Berkeley. She is presently working at a project aiming at realizing 3D models of ancient Egyptian coffins, the “Book of the Dead in 3D”. She is also completing a new monograph on demonology in ancient Egypt entitled “Agents of punishment and protection: ancient Egyptian Demonology in the First Millenium BCE” and she is one of the coordinators of the international project “Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project”, or “Demon Things”.