2016-2017 BLaST Graduate Mentoring Research Assistantships (GMRA)

Sheri Coker
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
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

Andrew Cyr
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
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.

Taylor Gofstein
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Teaching Interests: Traditional lecture stressing problem-solving skills and critical thinking in the sciences. Community-outreach at all ages. Engaging students and community members from disadvantaged backgrounds. General chemistry, microbiology, clinical laboratory sciences.
Research Interests: Biodegradation of petroleum in marine and terrestrial environments, bioremediation, phytoremediation including rhizoremediation, petroleum contamination in rural Alaska, anthropogenic pollution
Techniques: Analytical chemistry (most frequently gas chromatography mass spectroscopy and UV/visible light spectroscopy), next-generation sequencing technologies, culture-based methods
Personal Interests: Couch potato-ing, traveling and exploring new places, museums, jigsaw puzzles, animals, reading, sewing, crafting

John Harley
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
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
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.

Scott Jerome
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
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

Genevieve Johnson
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Teaching Interests: I enjoy tutoring biology, math, fisheries, and statistics for UAF Student Support Services. I have mentored undergraduate students working with the University of Alaska Museum of the North collections through the Museum Research Apprenticeship Program. I also like participating in public outreach during museum summer camps and family events.
Research Interests: I am investigating the genetic population structure of Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) throughout Alaska. (marine fishes & invertebrates, landscape/seascape genetics, fisheries management)
Techniques: Next Generation Sequencing, double digest RAD sequencing, sequence based genotyping, DNA extraction and purification, DNA quantification
Personal Interests: Swimming, hiking, campfires, road trips, knitting and crafts, sharing music with friends & family.

Stephanie Kennedy
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
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

Madison Kosma
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Teaching Interests:
Research Interests: To understand the role humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) play in the early marine mortality of hatchery juvenile salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.). I am interested in using stable isotope analysis to determine the contribution of hatchery salmon to the diet of humpback whales observed near hatchery release sites.
Personal Interests: Outdoor: snowboarding, surfing, hiking, running, kayaking, rock climbing, softball, basketball, volleyball, etc. Indoor: aesthetics, apple products, technology, and succulents.

Hugh Leonard
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
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.

Malabika Maulik
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
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

Mitchell Reed
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Teaching Interests: I enjoy teaching undergraduate classes and mentoring students in laboratory settings. I like teaching broad concepts that allow students to take specifics from class and apply them to other aspects of science and life
Research Interests: Respiratory physiology, central nervous system chemosensitivity, SIDS, evolution of breathing
Techniques: Electrophysiology, Immunohistochemistry, microscopy
Personal Interests: Sports, fantasy baseball, hiking/backpacking, food/beer/wine

Lisa Smith
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Teaching Interests: In addition to my role as a teaching assistant in a number of courses (Cell Biology, Microbiology, Human Anatomy & Physiology, General Chemistry, and A Survey of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry), I have been fortunate to serve as a research mentor for several high school and undergraduate students as well as a visiting scientist/instructor in a seventh grade life-science classroom. My experiences with students have served to shape my teaching goals and interests, and have identified for me those areas that I feel most important in science education. My aim as a research mentor is to foster critical thinking in students and to bridge the gap between "classroom science" and "laboratory science". Our current science education paradigm favors a one-way transfer of information wherein students often do not have the opportunity to make connections between the concepts and facts presented in lecture and research methods and laboratory techniques that underlie these discoveries. I hope to help students make this connection and in the process, improve scientific literacy and expose students to the excitement of research and discovery.
Research Interests: My research efforts focus on characterizing the role of plasma membrane lipid rafts in the interaction between host and pathogen during viral infections. Using HIV-1 as a model virus, I am interested in determining the role of viral tropism in the induction of oxidative stress and subsequent neurodegeneration responsible for the onset of HIV associated dementia (HAD) seen in a subset of infected individuals.
In addition, I am interested in public health outreach and the importance of responsible communication between scientists and policy makers and the public in the context of infectious disease.
Techniques: Immunohistochemistry, Tissue Culture, Fluorescence Microscopy, ELISA, Differential centrifugation
Personal Interests: Anything to do with my dog! I enjoy traveling whenever possible- particularly aimless wandering through old cities, as well as knitting, baking, music and whatever allows me to spend time in the sun.

Marguerite Tibbles
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Teaching Interests: I have been teaching students of one form or another for many years. More recently, I have tutored undergraduate students in biology, geology and environmental sciences, as well as teaching English to children in France. I believe that teaching and mentoring provide a valuable learning experience, allowing both mentor and mentee to learn from each other and come to a greater understanding of the topic at hand.
Research Interests: My research interests focus on how fish interact with and use their environments. My work is currently focused on coastal Arctic lagoons, which are very dynamic and productive ecosystems. However, because of the remote nature of the lagoons and the logistical challenges of winter research, little is known about fish overwintering habitat in these systems. I am interested in using remote sensing techniques to identify overwintering habitat for whitefish, which are important to local subsistence fishermen.
Techniques: Synthetic Aperture Radar remote sensing techniques, GIS, gill netting, gastric lavage, diet analysis.
Personal Interests: Snowboarding, biking, hiking, camping, running, canoe trips and reading.

Sasha White
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Teaching Interests:I enjoy working with undergraduates through research. I feel that it is a great opportunity for both the graduate and undergraduate student to develop a collaborative relationship. This research assistantship has allowed me teach the concepts that I have learned throughout my undergraduate career and in my research as a graduate student. This is a vital step in applying the knowledge that you have gained. I hope to continue working with undergraduates throughout my graduate degree.
Research Interests: I am interested in studying 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.
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: I love spending time with my family and friends in the summer in Unalakleet, Alaska participating in subsistence activities. With two children I do not really have other personal interests beside family and school activities.

Lauren Wild
Affiliations: University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast
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!