Devon FraserHistory grad Devon Fraser made a cheesecake she found in a recipe book that dates to the 1st century for a course in ancient science, technology, and engineering.

Ancient cheesecake recipe offers insight into the days of the Roman Empire

Recent history grad Devon Fraser has never fancied herself a baker, much less one who specializes in cheesecake.

But a UWindsor course called “Ancient Science, Tech, and Engineering” changed all that.

For Fraser’s final project in the course, she made a recipe from Apicius, a cookbook believed to date from the 1st century. Paper-thin dough layered with ricotta cheese, drenched in honey, and flavoured with oiled bay leaves was her adaptation of plakous, a dessert that would have been enjoyed by imperial Romans.

“It was good but it was really rich compared to modern cheesecake,” Fraser said. “I had a slice and said, ‘That’s enough.’”

Fraser made the dessert and an accompanying video for the ancient history course offered in winter semester 2021. Course instructor Robert Weir asked students to document in video their attempts at examples of Greco-Roman technology or science.

Dr. Weir said, in addition to Fraser’s cheesecake, highlights included students who made Roman artillery, dyed cloth, and concocted a face cream used by ancient Greeks.

“I was impressed,” said Weir. “I emphasized that they should have fun. As it turned out, several of the videos were fun and interesting to watch.”

Students graded each other, too. Fraser’s cheesecake video was among the favourites.

In the video, she pretends she is both the host and guest on a podcast. She describes the history of cheese making and its use in ancient dessert recipes. She includes the recipe for plakous, photos that show each step in its production, and a comparison of it to modern cheesecake — which usually combines cream cheese, butter, sugar, and eggs in a graham cracker crumb crust.

Fraser said the plakous was more difficult and time-consuming to make, despite an admitted shortcut.

“I didn’t make my own cheese,” Fraser said with a laugh. “That would have been a process… I made my own dough, which was enough of a process.”

Fraser said she took Weir’s class as an elective.

“I had taken Dr. Weir’s Intro to Greek Civilization course last semester and had really enjoyed it,” she said. When she heard he was offering a course that delved into ancient inventions, she signed up.

“I really liked him as a professor and since it was my last semester, I wanted to make sure I had some fun electives.”

Following Convocation, Fraser is headed to Western University to pursue Master’s studies in library and information sciences.

—Sarah Sacheli

Buttons representing varying Pride flagsLearn how and why sex and gender must be considered in research in a workshop on Friday, June 18.

Webinar to discuss sex and gender considerations in research

Learn how and why sex and gender must be considered in research in a workshop presented by the Office of Research and Innovation Services on Friday, June 18, as part of its series on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Better Research with Sex + Gender” will begin with a short guide on sex and gender considerations using as an example a COVID-19 research study, followed by a conversation with panellists Lisa Porter, Adrian Guta, and Andrew Allen.

They will identify the difference between sex and gender and help attendees incorporate these considerations into the preparation, study design, implementation, data analysis, and dissemination of research work.

The free session will run noon to 1 p.m. in Microsoft Teams and is intended for all faculty, staff, and students interested in learning more about EDI in research; register here.

Reem BahdiUWindsor law professor Reem Bahdi has accepted an appointment as dean of the Faculty of Law.

Dean of law a historic first for Canada

UWindsor law professor Reem Bahdi has accepted an appointment as dean of the Faculty of Law effective July 1, provost Patti Weir announced Wednesday.

Prof. Bahdi has been a faculty member at Windsor Law since 2002 and served as associate dean from 2012 to 2015. She has also served on numerous university-wide committees, including Senate, the presidential search committee, and as chair of the Academic Discipline Committee and the Research Ethics Board.

In 2005, she created the largest federally funded judicial education program in the Middle East and, over seven years, led an international team that helped introduce institutional reforms to advance human dignity in the administration of justice.

An interdisciplinary scholar and innovator, she is an elected member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists and recipient of the Law Foundation of Ontario's Guthrie Medal for her access to justice contributions to the profession and people of Ontario.

Bahdi has been the recipient of teaching excellence awards from the Student Law Society on three occasions and has been involved with the academic development of the law school curriculum. She has engaged at numerous points on projects to advance the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, to efforts to decolonize the curriculum, and to respond to anti-Black racism.

“I am thrilled to help lead Windsor Law, an institution that I care about deeply,” she said.

Dr. Weir noted that Bahdi is the first Arab woman and the first Palestinian appointed as a dean of a Faculty of Law in Canada.