BLaST Advisory Committee

The BLaST Advisory Committee (BAC) manages and oversees: program goals for the Fairbanks and rural campuses; policies and procedures; internal awards for travel, pilot projects, and equipment. General BAC duties include coordinating biomedical research engagement and training across the BLaST network, expanding biomedical research partnerships within, between, and outside the universities, facilitating linkages between research and teaching for Alaskans of all ages and educational levels, and developing sustainable funding.
The BAC was established with a teleconference on 1/22/2015. 

James Berner, M.D.
Phone: 907.729.1900
Office: C/O ANTHC, 400 Ambassador Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508
Position: Senior Director, Community Health Services
Affiliation: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC)

James Berner, M.D., is a PI on an EPA STAR grant to implement community-based environmental monitoring of emerging environmental threats. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, but his research interests has involved a wide range of areas, including focusing on village-based environmental assessments and developing monitoring tools to develop individual adaptation strategies, enhance food and water security, ensure village sustainability, and  studying direct contaminant and micro-nutrient levels in pregnant Alaska Native women.

Michael Castellini, Ph.D.
Phone: 907.474.6825
Office: 202A Eielson Building
Position: Interim Dean of Graduate School
Affiliation: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Michael Castellini earned his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1981 and has been a faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 1989.  He was the founding Science Director for the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, the Director of the Institute of Marine Science, Associate Dean and then Dean for the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Dr. Castellini is now the Interim Dean for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Graduate School and a member of the UAF Center for Arctic Policy Studies team.

Karsten Hueffer, P.h.D., FHEA, Tierarzt (DVM equiv.)
Phone:  907.474.6313
Office:  182D Arctic Health Research Building
Position:  Dean of Veterinary Medicine; BLaST Principal Investigator
Affiliations:  University of Alaska Fairbanks
Karsten Hueffer, Tierarzt (DVM equivalent), Ph.D., earned his veterinary doctorate from the School of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany and Ph.D. from Cornell University in Comparative Biomedical Science. Following a postdoctoral position at Yale University, Hueffer joined UAF. His research focuses on infectious diseases. He has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students in research. He serves now as Dean of Veterinary Medicine, leading the professional veterinary program in collaboration with Colorado State University.

Claudia Ihl, Ph.D., M.S.
Phone:  907.443.8417
Office: C/O UAF CRCD Northwest Campus, 400 E. Front Street, Nome, Alaska 99762
Position:  Assistant Professor of Biology, Northwest Campus - College of Rural Community Development
Affiliations:  University of Alaska Fairbanks
Claudia Ihl, Ph.D., is a UAF alumna receiving both an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. Her research focuses on the foraging ecology, habitat, diet, and sociality of muskoxen. Her position at the Northwest Campus relies heavily on her ability to teach in rural settings and engage rural students in her research.

Linda Nicholas-Figeuroa, Ph.D., M.S.
Phone:  907.852.1848
Office: C/O Ilisagvik College, 100 Stevenson Street, PO Box 749, Barrow, Alaska 99723
Position:  Assistant Professor Biology and Chemistry
Affiliations:  IIisagvik College
Dr. Linda Nicholas-Figueroa is an Associate Professor of Biology and Chemistry at Ilisaġvik Tribal College in Utqiagvik, AK. Dr. Nicholas-Figueroa has taught at Ilisaġvik College since 2010. In addition, she runs several STEM-themed summer camps for students since 2011 and had been an instructor for Rural Alaska Honor’s Institute (RAHI) at UAF for 5 years. She is a UAF alumna receiving a B.S. and M.A. in Biochemistry and Chemistry, respectively, and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on engaging Alaska Native youth in STEM education.

Stacy Rasmus, Ph.D.
Phone: 907.474.7352
Office: 224 Arctic Health Research Building
Position: Research Associate Professor
Affiliation: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Stacy Rasmus, Ph.D. is a researcher with the Center of Alaska Native Health Research (CANHR) at UAF. Her research primarily focuses on understanding the intersections between culture, health and wellbeing and the role of social determinants in reducing health disparities among American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. She is trained in the social and behavioral sciences with specific expertise in the translation of cultural knowledge and practice into health interventions to reduce disparities and increase wellbeing. She is currently PI of several federal grants that focus on increasing indigenous community and youth resilience and reducing disparities of alcohol misuse and suicide in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Arleigh Reynolds, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN.
Phone: 907.474.1928
Office: 170 Arctic Health Research Building
Position:  Director of One Health, BLaST Principal Investigator
Affiliations:  University of Alaska Fairbanks
Arleigh Reynolds, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN is the Director of One Health. He attended Cornell University; as a Cornell faculty member he taught courses and conducted research in the areas of Clinical Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, Metabolic Diseases of Domestic Animals, and Energy Metabolism. Reynolds has also taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania and the NYS College of Veterinary Science as well as conducting research for Purina.

Marsha Sousa, Ph.D.
Phone: 907.474.7931
Office: 185 Arctic Health Research Building
Position:  BLaST Student Training Core Director
Affiliation: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Dr. Sousa earned her Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics at Colorado State University. Her research interest is reproductive physiology of ungulates; she has studied regulation of the female reproductive cycle in sheep, caribou, reindeer, and muskox. Her primary teaching interest is in physiology and human health. Sousa taught and conducted research at UAF from 1989–2010 in the Biology Department, and at the Community and Technical College, where she was Director of Allied Health Programs and Associate Dean for Academics. In 2010 she moved to the University of Alaska Southeast as the Dean of Arts and Sciences and Vice Provost for Research. She returned to UAF in 2014 as Director of the Honors Program and Professor of Biology and is now retired.

David Tallmon, Ph.D., M.S.
Phone:   907.796.6330
Office: C/O University of Southeast - Juneau Campus, 11120 Glacier Highway, Juneau, Alaska 99801
Position:  Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences
Affiliations:  University of Alaska Southeast
David Tallmon, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Biology. Dr Tallmon completed his undergraduate work in biology at the University of California Santa Cruz and received both a M.S. and Ph.D. in Organismal Biology from the University of Montana. His research focuses on evolutionary and ecological dynamics of natural populations using demographic and genetic models, molecular genetic data, and field data.