2015-2016 BLaST Graduate Mentoring Research Assistantships (GMRA)

Sheri Coker
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: I am currently mentoring several undergraduate students.For over 20 years, I taught biological sciences (biology, advanced placement anatomy and physiology, field biology, biochemistry) in the secondary schools
Research Interests: I'm fascinated by the subsistence lifestyle and the health benefits associated with it, particularly how game meats affect protein synthesis in humans. Using isotope tracer methodology and feeding induced studies in humans, we will compare Alaska reindeer and commercial beef to determine the anabolic efficiency of each.
Techniques: Isotope tracer methodology, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, medical assessments
Personal Interests: Hunting, fishing, gardening, camping, cooking, writing, reading, climbing, hiking, biking, photography

Scott Jerome
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: Experiential-based education and problem-based learning. 15 years as a head coach in NCAA skiing and cross country running.
Research Interests: Exercise science, human performance, overtraining syndrome, systemic inflammation
Techniques: Vo2max testing, Sub-maximal graded exercise testing, Anaerobic threshold testing via blood lactate, Wingate anaerobic power testing, Spirometry testing, SensorMedics Vmax respiratory analyzer, LactatePro whole blood analyzer
Personal Interests: Skijoring, cross country skiing, Alaskan rivers

Courtney Scerbak
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program Biology and Wildlife Department
Teaching Interests: I have closely mentored several undergraduate students through their own projects related to my thesis research during my time as a graduate student. I also enjoy participating in various science outreach activities, such as the Alaska Science Research Academy for high school students and the Museum of the North docent program for local K-6 student field trips.
Research Interests: Aging; neurodegeneration; cellular signaling; gene expression; use of Alaskan plants as food and medicine
Techniques: Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism (e.g.worm and bacterial culturing); fluorescent microscopy; healthspan metrics (e.g. length of life, neuronal and muscular function, ROS quantification)
Personal Interests: Being active outside with my family, running, swimming,gardening, and cooking

Michael Godin
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: I have been a teaching assistant for general biology labs for 3 semesters at the University of Alaska Southeast.
Research Interests: I am interested in the ecology of salmon and salmon consumers, particularly coastrange sculpin, brown bears, and gulls. I am in my second year of study towards my masters in Fisheries focusing on the effects of changes in salmon availability on the behavior and growth of these three major consumers.
Techniques: Electrofishing, seine netting, D-net sampling, biometrics, turbidity, ph, o2, and dissolved solids meters, Genomics, enzyme kinetics, PCR analysis, organic extraction, organic distillation, organic chemical analysis, thin layer chromatography, electrophoresis, sterile microbial technique and culture
Personal Interests: Hunting, fishing, gardening, kayaking and exploring places outdoors. I enjoy gathering or harvesting my own food and especially like trying new food options. I also like to tinker on various projects such as engines, duck decoys, or household repairs.

Lauren Wild
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: As a marine mammal biologist I have been a guest lecturer in Fisheries Technology courses at the UAS Sitka campus. I love working with students and adults of all ages, and collaborating with people from all walks of life, which helps me learn and grow as a research biologist.
Research Interests: My research focus is on marine mammal interactions with fisheries. I have a Master's degree in Marine Mammal Science from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where I focused on sperm whale acoustics. I have worked with a project called the Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Project for the last six years. This project is a collaborative effort between fishermen, scientists, and managers, to understand the interaction between sperm whales and fishing gear, and work to minimize the effects of depredation.
Techniques: Acoustics, telemetry and photo-id.
Personal Interests: When I am not out on the water or in the lab doing research, I can be found playing violin, hiking, bike riding, boating, or dancing!

Andrew Cyr
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: I have been mentoring undergraduates, high school students, and middle school students in my field of study for over 4 years. I have mentored youth at science camps, outdoor camps, environmental education camps, and language camps. I mentored in Morocco with the Peace Corps, teaching concepts ranging from environmental protection and agriculture, to health care and small business ideas. Presently I am mentoring with the Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory.
Research Interests: Hands-on, patience, and fun. We can get a classroom teaching setting with useless tests and boring lectures anywhere. But the beauty of mentoring is that it allows for a closer teaching environment, allowing for more hands-on learning, with patient and open minded mentors. I try to create a comfortable and fun learning environment where my mentee feels challenged, but supported, and feels free and unintimidated to ask questions.
Techniques: Toxicology, Contaminants, Fish, Biomonitoring, Bioaccumlation, Biomagnification, Mercury, POPs, non-motorized remote clean sample collection
Personal Interests: Cross country skiing, backcountry skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, alpine/rock/ice climbing, biking, non-motorized endurance travel, canoeing, rafting, packrafting, hunting, birding, recycling, energy research, woodworking and turning wrenches.

Hugh Leonard
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: I have served as a teaching assistant for Research Methods, Social Psychology, Positive Youth Development, Developmental Psychology, Introduction to Sociology and Psychology, The Abnormal Personality, and Advanced Research Methods in Personality and Social Psychology.
Research Interests: My research interests revolve around dissemination of best clinical practices, specifically, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). I am currently investigating the efficacy and cultural responsiveness of DBT for Alaska Native individuals.
Techniques: Structured interviews; observational coding; Univariate, Bivariate and Multivariate analyses.
Personal Interests: Cooking, playing sports, Lakers basketball, and hiking.

Marianne Lian
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: Biomedicine, chemical immobilization, anesthesia and wildlife diseases
Research Interests: Improvement of wildlife anesthesia, wildlife toxicology with emphasis on oxidative stress due to high contaminant levels
Techniques: Field anesthesia, blood gas analysis in field, ox stress assays
Personal Interests: Skiing and hiking with my dog, playing guitar

John Harley
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: Guest Lecture Environmental Toxicology, Guest Lecture, Introduction to Chemistry Research, Teaching Assistant Organic Chemistry I and Organic Chemistry 2
Research Interests: My research is focused on organisms' genetic response to environmental contaminants. Changes in mRNA transcripts often occur before outright toxic effects, and we can examine gene expression in order to determine the potential effects of novel and emerging contaminants. I have worked with a number of species including sled dogs, Steller sea lions, muskoxen, sea otters, fish, and humans.
Techniques: PCR, qPCR, RNA-seq, cold-vapor atomic fluorescence spectroscopy, atomic absorption spectroscopy
Personal Interests: Climbing, skiing, rafting, hiking, and all other forms of human powered exploration.

Joshua Hincks
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: When I was an undergraduate, my research opportunities, graduate student mentors, and independent projects are what inspired me to pursue my current interests. From leading projects as an lab technician at UC Davis to mentoring undergraduates at UAF, I hope continue building experience in providing an environment where undergraduates can be inspired and feel comfortable to contribute their ideas to our projects.
Research Interests: I am interested in pathogen induced behavioral modification. Particularly, the neurobiological mechanism of behavior associated with the behavioral change during rabies pathogenesis.
Techniques: Behavioral experiments, and Electrophysiology using the NemaMetrix
Personal Interests: I enjoy playing music, being outdoors, and spending time with animals.

Malabika Maulik
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: I have been a teaching assistant in general chemistry modules for undergraduates in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department. In addition, I have taught undergraduates for biochemistry and metabolism module. I have actively mentored high school and undergraduates on projects investigating the role of endemic phytochemicals in treating neurodegenerative disorders. Currently, I am mentoring two BLaST funded undergraduates on their projects that involve probing the effects of alaskan botanicals on a worm model of Parkinson's disease.
Research Interests: Neurodegenerative disorders mainly Parkinson disease Understanding parkinson pathology and signaling pathways Gene expression Phytochemicals, especially Alaskan botanicals in treating parkinson's disease
Techniques: Microbiology, fluorescent microscopy, confocal microscopy, worm behavior (healthspan, lifespan, motility etc), RT-PCR, RNAi, Bioassays, staining.
Personal Interests: Baking, Painting, Travelling

Nicole Knight
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: Teaching assistant for Instrumental Analysis, Chemical Equilibrium and Analysis, General Chemistry, and Calculus
Research Interests: Characterizing and assessing the potential health impacts of metal(loid)s in semi-arid mine tailings
Techniques: X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), electron probe microanalysis (EPMA), micro-focused XRF mapping, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS)
Personal Interests: Traveling, cooking, playing board games, and outdoor activities (e.g., hiking, snowboarding)

Sasha White
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: Spring 2014: Cell & Molecular Biology TA; Training new laboratory workers in basic lab techniques, basic cell culture techniques, comet assay experiment and analysis, and helping develop undergraduate proposals.
Research Interests: Alaska Native Health, traditional Alaska Native diet, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, westernization of Alaska Native diet, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, healthy obesity
Techniques: Endothelial cell tube formation assay (angiogenesis), Cell culture, Amplex Red assay (oxidative stress), Transient transfection and luciferase assay (chronic inflammation), Comet assay (DNA repair)
Personal Interests: Study the relationship between the change in the Alaska Native (AN) diet, specifically the intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), and the decline in AN health in order to determine if there is a direct link between the decrease in the intake of n-3 PUFA and the increase in type 2 diabetes in the AN population.

Stephanie Kennedy
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks BLaST Program
Teaching Interests: Mentoring philosophy: Through trial and error, I discovered that undergraduate students are most captivated by scientific principles when the material relates to a facet of everyday life. Generally, when I think back to my own experience as an undergrad, scientific concepts are best received with hands-on activities. I Mentored undergraduate students for the Ecology of Birds Turtles and Mammals course at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.
Research Interests: Wildlife Conservation Medicine, One Health, Immunology, Toxicology. Assessing immune status of the endangered Steller sea lion as it relates to contaminant exposure.
Techniques: DMA80 Mercury Analyzer, Spectrophotometer: Colorimetric assays for Haptoglobin quantification, and ELISA for immune cytokine quantification, Stable isotope preparation of Steller sea lion whisker
Personal Interests: Snowboarding, cross country skiing, sport climbing, running, biking, hiking, painting, traveling, scuba diving