J. Marla Toyne
What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Sciences
I am responsible for teaching and research, as well as service. I co-direct the Laboratory for Bioarchaeological Sciences at UCF, and I am Director of the Chachapoyas Bioarchaeological Project, in Chachapoyas, Peru.
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
I have been an assistant professor at UCF for 5 years. Prior to that I was at a post-doc at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario for 3 years.
What is your academic background?
I began my undergraduate career in Anthropology and Spanish Language at the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada and continued on to their Master’s program under Dr. Andrew Nelson. I then completed my PhD in Anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana under the supervision of Dr. John W. Verano. I returned to the University of Western Ontario for post-doctoral research under my mentor, Dr. Christine White.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
I honestly cannot think of anything. Everything has been good, but nothing stands out.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be?
Two things, but both deal with space.
1. A space/place for faculty socializing, lunch, lounge, afterwork drinks, or meals. A place on campus to meet and eat that is not a FASTFOOD restaurant. (Chili’s is still a fastfood joint). And one that would be restricted to faculty, staff and (possibly graduate students), to sponsor a positive environment for socializing and relaxing that is not work related (teach and research).
2. More research, lab space. So many buildings on campus are old and inadequate for space needs of most faculty. New Hires are forced into ‘available’ spots but they are not appropriate or equipped properly to begin work or advance new or innovative work.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Apply for every opportunity. Be a “yes, person” as much as you can. New opportunities help you meet new people. The academic work will still be there but new colleagues are much more exciting and rewarding.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
A tree or a nice bench in a shaded area on campus where people could sit and relax.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
Graham Worthy (biology), Jeff Rupert, (music), Zachary Knauer (COS admin), Melody Bowden (FCTL)
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
I would thank my parents for being so very supportive throughout my career. And all of my colleagues in Anthropology who have been very generous with their time and advice.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
First class, first day of university (undergraduate degree at University of Western Ontario), when the professor, Dr. Christine D. White, explained why she was an anthropologist, a bioarchaeologist who explained how she studies skeletons from the past to explore health and diet. The most important part was that even though she specifically worked with archaeological materials (skeletons) that the questions she asked were also about important social processes and the influence of our culture in all aspects of daily life. She highlighted the relevance of anthropology to anything and everything we do and that really appealed to me; the potential to engaged in research that matters.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
My first trip to South America as an undergraduate volunteer on an archaeological project with Dr. Tamara Bray, in Ecuador. She is a true leader and adventurer. She really showed me the way. And she writes like a dream! So inspiring and motivating. It was also dangerous and very rural conditions. It was great to be out of the ‘real’ world for 3 months with limited communication. Now that is what I live for every year, a couple months of completely disconnecting and working on archaeological projects in the jungles of South America. I just don’t look forward to the bedbugs.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Favorite restaurant is Ceviche – Spanish tapas and sangria.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
I love all types of music and have quite an eclectic playlist for any occasion. I love to read historical and science fiction novels, as well as biographies of important Canadians. I love movies but the short list includes, The Princess Bride, Star Wars (original films), The Blues Brothers.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
Vacation? What is that? I recently visited Croatia and would love to go back to Europe, likely to Scotland!