Sarah “Stacy” Barber
What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Assistant Professor, Anthropology. I am a Mesoamerican archaeologist responsible for teaching undergraduate courses and conducting archaeological field research in Oaxaca, Mexico, and in Florida.
What is your history at UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
I have been at UCF since 2007 as an Assistant Professor.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
I’m new enough to campus that one of my favorite moments was when the chair of the Anthropology Department called to offer me a tenure-track position at UCF. It was a freezing cold northeastern day. Suffice to say, I haven’t been freezing cold very often since I received that call.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
I would love to see some really cutting-edge architecture on our campus. Something by IM Pei or Herzog & de Meuron, for instance.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Take advantage of all the resources UCF has to offer: go to a play, go to the match of a sports team you’ve never seen, or attend a lecture on something you know nothing about. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your department or college, but UCF is a huge community of amazing and talented people.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I love to eat, so picking one favorite food is nearly impossible! If I absolutely had to choose, it would be anything made with avocado. There is a restaurant in Oaxaca City, Mexico, that makes an avocado pesto over linguini that I eat every time I visit.
What is your favorite book or movie or song?
I revisit many books, but two that never get dusty on my bookshelf are The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
What is your dream vacation spot?
My current dream vacation would be a month in east-central Europe: a train and road trip through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary.
What is your favorite sport to watch or participate?
I am a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan and an ex-track athlete. So I love to watch American football and the Olympics.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be?
An endowed chair, because I believe that UCF students benefit the most from interactions with talented, engaged faculty.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF, who would you choose and why?
President Hitt, because I’d be very interesting in getting his big-picture perspective on our university.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
All of my current and former colleagues in the Anthropology Department have been incredibly supportive. It’s such a pleasure to come to campus each day and interact with so many smart, talented, and just plain nice people. I’ve also benefited from the wisdom of people at the UCF Center for Success of Women Faculty (like Linda Walters and Leslie Lieberman) and the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (like Melody Bowden and Tace Crouse).
Name and describe a teacher from you past who truly inspired you.
I became a Mesoamerican archaeologist because of my interactions with Professor Bill Fash in the Anthropology Department at Harvard. Bill encouraged me to get my hands dirty (literally!) and try out archaeology at the site of Copán, Honduras, where he taught a summer course (see question #14). I never looked back, and am now trying to “pay forward” that experience by taking students to Mexico to get their own hands dirty for the first time.
What undergraduate class/program inspired you the most and why?
The archaeology field school I attended in Honduras between my junior and senior years in college, which was a program through the Anthropology Department at Harvard, inspired me more than any other experience I had in college. It was my first trip to Latin America, my first attempt at archaeology, and overall a life-changing experience. It gave me a tiny glimpse at how much I didn’t know about the world.