Joanna Mishtal

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, College of Sciences 2014 Womens History Month

What is your current job title and responsibilities?
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, College of Sciences.  Much of my work is research related, i.e., conducting anthropological fieldwork in Europe, writing articles and revising my book based on past research, as well as preparing grant proposals.  An important and enjoyable part of my work is teaching and mentoring students, both undergraduate and graduate.

What is your history at UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
I accepted a tenure-track position at UCF in 2008. From the start, I was hired to replace Dr. Allyn Stearman, who was retiring, and therefore teach applied anthropology, both the undergraduate course and the graduate seminar.  I also teach cultural medical anthropology.  Teaching these areas of anthropology is particularly rewording because my students conduct service-learning in our local communities as part of these classes.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
My favorite memory thus far is seeing masses of UCF students, and some faculty, jump into the water fountain in front of the library in November during my first semester at UCF.  I later learned we’re allowed to do that on that single day during the year, and apparently this is almost a 20-year long tradition. One of these years I might jump in myself.

If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
The one change I would make at UCF is to create some, even small, pots of money for Masters students to support their research.  Currently, we have funding for Honors and PhD students, but MA students fall through the cracks. In anthropology we generally travel abroad to do research – this is prohibitively costly for MA students who want to pursue independent projects. Yet, our MA students badly need some funding support to maximize their chances when they apply to PhD programs, so this form of support is crucial.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
My advice is especially for colleagues who come to Florida from other states: explore Florida! I have made a point of traveling up and down our amazing coastlines, on both sides, and truly enjoy Florida beaches and beautiful and interesting nature, especially the Everglades. Best beach if you’re not in the mood for waves:  Anna Maria Island (go to Bean Point and bring a glass of wine for sunset). Best beach if you want waves:  Merritt Island.  Best urban fun beach:  South Beach.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I love Shari Sushi Lounge in Thornton Park and their delicious saketinis – my favorites are mango and blood orange.  Once in a while I crave my “native” food and that’s when I go to Anna’s Polish Restaurant in Winter Park, where I start with their outrageous pickle soup, and usually follow with potato pancakes or the hunter’s stew. You can’t order wrong at this place.  Anna’s is also a place where I can practice my Polish, so I don’t get too rusty.

If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
It would be” “Biannual Research Grant for Masters Students” in the amount of $10,000.We have many talented MA students who need our help in funding their research.  It would be wonderful for to support their efforts and goals.

If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
I would choose to have lunch with Dr. MC Santana, the Chair of Women’s Studies. She has an inspiring energy about her, and shows so much dedication and creativity in her teaching, community involvement as well as mentoring students. She is an excellent role model for anyone in academia, but especially women.

Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
I’m grateful to my fellow anthropology colleagues at the Department of Anthropology. From my first day here at UCF, my departmental colleagues have been helping me in every area of my work with valuable advice and warm support.

Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
I model my own teaching style after my PhD advisor Donna Goldstein, PhD (CU – Boulder), for whom I TA’ed I several courses and watched her in action with students in a variety of classes, as well as in our graduate seminars. She brings great enthusiasm for anthropology into the classroom but also tries to connect with students and support their interest.

What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
In college, I was originally focusing on biology and chemistry, but when I took my first cultural anthropology class, I was immediately inspired and never looked back. Because of anthropology’s interest in cultures and people, I was excited by the fact that I can research almost any cultural question or phenomenon of interest in any part of the world. The chance to develop my own independent research inspired me to pursue graduate education in anthropology.  Happily, here I am.

Contact Us

Linda Walters, Director of the UCF Center for Success of Women Faculty

Phone: 407-823-1113

Mailing Address
Center for Success of Women Faculty
University of Central Florida
P.O. Box 160955
Orlando, FL 32816-0955

Physical Address
4365 Andromeda Loop N
Millican Hall, Suite 351
Orlando, FL 32816-1997

Internal Mail (UCF)
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