Julia Simons is a Classicist who specializes in ancient medicine. Julia received a Bachelor of Arts with a triple major in Classics, Latin and Greek and a first class BA Honours degree in Greek from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. In 2013 she received a Victoria Master’s by Thesis Scholarship, and her thesis ‘The Psychopathology of Desire in the Argonautika’ examined the symptomology of love in the Argonautica and evaluated allusions to contemporaneous philosophical theories and medical discoveries of body and mind. In 2015 she attended the Summer School in Osteoarchaeology and Paleopathology at the University of Pisa, Italy and from 2014 to 2016 she was a Latin Teaching Fellow at Victoria University. She entered the PhD program at Penn in 2016. She was named Paturick Fellow for 2018 and is a 2019 Dean's Scholar. In 2019 she was also named a Junior Kolb Fellow.
She graduated from Penn with a PhD in August 2023 and her thesis 'Tuberculosis in the Greco-Roman World' is the first large-scale investigation of tuberculosis in the Greco-Roman world that synthesises the bioarchaeological, literary and iconographic evidence for tuberculosis to shed light on the experience of the tuberculosis sufferer.
Her research of medicine and science embraces disease nosology, experimentation, anatomy and dissection, pre-Socratic philosophy, history of the mind, plague and contagion, disability, pharmacy, therapeutics, divinity, and rivalry between medical sects. However, more broadly she is interested in the experience of the people who were marginalized in ancient society; the sick, the disabled, those who worked with the dead, women, foreigners, slaves, the urban poor, prostitutes, witches etc. She is passionate about utilizing bioarchaeological data in her research and since at Penn has continued to train in paleopathology, attending an osteology workshop in Romania (2018) and studying with Dr. Janet Monge at Penn.