Born in San Jose, California, Professor Elizabeth Wueste is an Assistant Professor and Program Director of Archaeology and Classics.
She is a Roman archaeologist and active field excavator who has excavated in Greece, Albania, Turkey, and Italy. Her personal research focuses on Late Antique honorific monuments and epigraphy. Dr. Wueste is a founding member and Vice President of the Asian and Asian American Classical Caucus. At AUR, she teaches introductory classes (like CLS 101: Greek and Roman Mythology, CLHS 101: Introduction to Ancient Greece and Rome), Greek and Latin languages, and senior seminars on Roman art and archaeology. She also teaches PST 501: Religion and Empire I in the Sustainable Cultural Heritage MA program.
Dr. Wueste's favorite Classical sculpture is any portrait of Lucius Verus because of his luscious curly hair.
She takes pictures with him all over the Mediterranean— whenever and wherever she sees him!
Let's dig a little deeper (yes, that's an archaeology pun right there) into Professor Wueste's psyche...
Q. When were you happiest?
I am always happiest during the summer when I am digging. I love the sun, the warmth, the friendship, the dirt, the travel. We always joke that being on an excavation project is like summer-camp-for-professional-adults.
Q. What is your computer and/or phone wallpaper?
My computer desktop is always bland and generic because I screen-share so often on Zoom. I just use the MacOS California backgrounds—right now it is the dynamic version of Big Sur.
On my phone, I like to use calming, monochromatic pictures from Hawaii. My mom’s family is from Oahu, and (pre-pandemic) we try to go back at least 1-2 times a year. Right now, I have a shot of rippling turquoise water that I took last time we went diving off the northwest coast of Maui.
Q. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Originally I wanted to be a gymnast in the Olympics. I was a competitive gymnast until I was about 12. Obviously, I grew too tall! Then I wanted to be the first female President of the US—and I kept that goal until I was about 20-21 years old and found Classics instead. I cannot believe that milestone is still available for the taking, unfortunately!
Q. If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would it be?
I would bring back to life some of our early pre-human bipedal primate ancestors—Australopithecus, or homo erectus, or Neanderthals. It would be so fascinating to help us see our humanity in the wider context of other apes.
Q. What is the worst job you’ve ever done?
In high school, I was a waitress for a few months. My high school crush got me a job where he worked. I wasn’t very good at it, but the tips were good.
Q. Which word of phrase do you most overuse?
“Totally.” I am from California—the Valley Girl accent is hard to shake.
Q. What is the most important lesson that life has taught you?
Be kind to yourself and others. Nothing else is more important than kindness.
Q. If you could travel back in time just once, where and when would you go?
Obviously to sometime in the Roman Empire. I am thinking maybe 1st or 2nd c CE to a metropolis in the Provinces—maybe Carthage, or Alexandria. I want to see the multiculturalism and complex society at its height!
Q. How do you relax?
I was gifted a Nintendo Switch at the beginning of the pandemic (before it had hit the US, and so everyone felt sorry for me that I was locked down in Italy). I love all of the Zelda games, MarioKart, and I just started getting into Animal Crossing (late, I know!) It helps me turn off my brain and still feel a little bit engaged.
Q. What’s your guilty pleasure?
I drink American-style coffee every morning, made out of Italian espresso beans. I am definitely not proud of this. But I find it so comforting to have an embarrassingly humongous mug of drip coffee while I get ready in the morning and do my work. Italian espresso is too tiny and doesn’t let me sip it slowly over an hour or two. That being said, I still drink Italian coffee later in the day. I have a caffeine problem.
Q. Tell us a secret…
I had a dream one night that I had applied for, interviewed, and been offered a job as a tenured Professor of Classical Archaeology at Disneyland, and now I can’t get that fantasy out of my mind. I have no idea how that could work in real life, but I am pretty sure it would be the most amazing job ever. Google hires archaeologists for their Culture division, why not Disneyland? I would be the happiest professor at the Happiest Place on Earth! If anyone has a contact at Disney, hit me up. It is literally my dream job.