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We talk to Celtic Studies PhD student, Dhanya Baird, about her involvement in conferences and why the Celtic and Scottish Studies department is so special to her.

While studying for her PhD, Dhanya Baird has both organised and presented at multiple conferences in the field of Celtic Studies, including the recent Ulidia VI Fíanaigecht III which took place in June on the Isle of Skye.

In this interview, Dhanya talks to Róisín MacFarlane (Web, Communications and Social Media Intern, and current LLC student) about the benefits of presenting at conferences for students, her reasons for studying Celtic at the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), and how the department has influenced her. 

'I absolutely loved Edinburgh'

Dhanya completed her undergraduate and Masters degrees at the University of Calgary in Canada, gaining a Bachelor of Arts in Greek and Roman Studies and German, followed by a Master of Arts in Greek and Roman Studies.

Reflecting on her reasons for choosing the University of Edinburgh for her PhD, where her supervisor is Abigail Burnyeat, she cites the combination of the staff and city as having influenced her choice:

"I chose to come to Edinburgh to study Celtic Studies because several of the professors here were very much people I wanted to study with. They were in particular areas of study that I wanted to focus on, and I had been through the city several years earlier - just on a trip - and I absolutely loved it."

Working on conferences

As well as presenting at Ulidia VI Fíanaigecht III (on mythology's Cú Chulainn, his 'comaltai' foster-brothers, and their loyalty), Dhanya has been part of the organising team for the sixth annual colloquium on ‘Thinking About Mythology in the 21st Century’. The event is a collaboration with Scandinavian Studies at LLC, and will be held at the University of Edinburgh in November.

Dhanya, who was been working with Dr Triin Laidoner on the colloquium, believes that being involved in conferences can be highly beneficial for students: 

"I think through being actively involved in conferences - whether in the organisation of them or presentation at them - students learn quite a bit about how information is transmitted among academics, which is very important, and also presentation skills, which is important for so much."

Her experience of the Celtic and Scottish Studies department has inspired her on both an academic and a personal level:

"I think the thing that has influenced and inspired me most has been the people, and how inviting and welcoming the whole community has been in this department."

"They invite you to ceilidhs, they invite you to their homes, and it's shown me a lot about the type of person I would like to be."

Are you interested in studying Celtic and Scottish Studies at LLC?

Home to the longest established Celtic department in Scotland, we offer a range of four-year undergraduate degrees and a great mix of postgraduate programmes, both taught and research-led. Our fantastic resources include the School of Scottish Studies Archives, which was founded in 1951 to collect, archive and promote the cultural traditions of the nation.

Find out more about Celtic and Scottish Studies

Related links 

Find out more about the sixth annual colloquium on 'Thinking About Mythology in the 21st Century'

Visit the Ulidia VI Fíanaigecht III website