ASU professor’s work on ancient Greek poetry praised by New York Review of Books

June 6, 2017

Mike Tueller, a classics professor at Arizona State University’s School of International Letters and Cultures, has been praised by the New York Review of Books for his contributions to the Greek Anthology of the famous Loeb Classical Library.

Tueller’s expertise allowed him to update the Greek Anthology of the library, which has not been reviewed since 1918. Tueller translates epigrams, ancient short poems that he likens to an ancient tweet or meme. Given their style, Tueller sees them as very timely, as “a lot of our genres are getting shorter anyway.” Professor Mike Tueller ASU Professor Mike Tueller examined epigrams to contribute to one of the key collections of Latin and Greek ancient texts. Download Full Image

The Loeb Classical Library is considered the premiere collection of ancient Latin and Greek texts, preserving cultural history and explaining it for others.

“There are a few book series in the world that print classical texts, and [the Loeb Classical Library] is the only one of any completion in the United States,” Tueller explained.

Ironically, given his success, Tueller did not set out to become an expert in classic Greek. Originally an astrophysics major at Harvard, he felt uninspired and switched to classics, enjoying the methodical nature and perspective of translation.

Tueller has completed one volume out of a projected six or seven for the Greek Anthology.

“I’m going through the Greek text, making sure it’s correct given the scholarship that has been done over the last hundred years ...” Tueller said. “These epigrams … a lot of them were playing tricks that I thought people hadn’t really noticed. These are short anyway, and a lot of short genres tend to have twists or jokes.”

In addition to adjusting translations of the epigrams, Tueller has added various notes on the headings of the poems, how he arrived at the translation and other pieces of context.

The New York Review of Books considers Tueller’s work an improvement on the original anthology, calling his work “an ambitious and worthy enterprise.”

In epigrams, Tueller has enjoyed a form of ancient writing unique from the popular ancient plays or works meant to be recited; epigrams were actually made to be read.

“That’s one of the reasons they strike us differently,” Tueller said. “They’re meant to be consumed differently. Epigrams were always meant to be read, even when nothing else was like that.”

While the epigrams are ancient, Tueller believes working with them strengthens skills in close reading and writing, inspiring ideas in people from the Renaissance to the Founding Fathers.

“You end up getting this really complete package of skills that you can bring to any work where you have to examine words really closely,” Tueller said. “There is not a single career in the world where knowing how to write well doesn’t help you.”

Read Tueller’s favorite epigram below, written by Callimachus in the third century BCE.

They told me Heraclitus, they told me you were dead

They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.

I wept as I remembered how often you and I

Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.


And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest,

A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest,

Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;

For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.

Gabriel Sandler

New ASU scholarship program helps transfer students LEAP into science

June 6, 2017

When community college transfer students start taking courses at a larger, more complex university setting, they face a variety of challenges. Navigating a new campus, succeeding in larger classes and securing undergraduate research opportunities can be daunting.

But Arizona State University is launching a new scholarship program aimed specifically at helping transfer students get involved in undergraduate research — something that increases a student’s chances of being accepted into medical and graduate schools. A new ASU scholarship program will provide $600,000 in scholarships to transfer students in science over the next five years. Photo: Andy DeLisle Download Full Image

“We found that transfer students are not participating in undergraduate research as much as students who start their college experience at ASU,” said Sara Brownell, assistant professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences and primary investigator for a new grant funding the program. “This is a problem because undergraduate research can provide students with a unique opportunity to learn how to conduct research. We also know participation in research as an undergraduate helps students secure their futures beyond earning a bachelor’s degree.”

The National Science Foundation is providing $1 million to establish a new scholarship program at ASU called the LEAP Scholars program, which will provide $600,000 in scholarships to transfer students in science over the next five years.

As LEAP Scholars, students will learn about research, conduct research in a faculty member’s research lab and present their research findings to the community. Incoming transfer students from community colleges who demonstrate academic success, financial need and intend on majoring in degrees offered by ASU’s School of Life Sciences, School of Molecular Sciences, School of Earth and Space Exploration, or Department of Physics, are eligible for the program.

The scholarships are meant to increase the number of transfer students conducting research by helping to offset their need to work while going to college.

“We know that transfer students are often working at the same time they are attending school and that frequently means they don’t have time for research. This scholarship program is meant to help students alleviate their need for an off-campus job so that they can instead focus on doing research,” added Brownell, director of the LEAP Scholars program.

This scholarship program is the first program specific to transfer students, a group that ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is particularly interested in helping. A recent college-wide initiative called Transfer Matters highlighted concerns for transfer students and identified possible solutions to identified issues. This scholarship program stemmed from one of those recommendations.
LEAP Scholars program manager Katelyn Cooper said there is a real need for scholarships directed to transfer students.

“Until this program, we did not have any scholarships programs that were specifically focused on transfer students interested in research, even though transfer students make up more than 40 percent of the students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the School of Life Sciences. This meets a huge need,” Cooper said.

For more information about the LEAP Scholars Program, visit or contact

Sandra Leander

Manager, Media Relations and Marketing, School of Life Sciences