BLaST

Current Faculty Pilot Projects

Carolyn Bergstrom photo

Principal Investigator: Carolyn Bergstrom
Title:  Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis and the development of a predictive model of the health and energetic status of estuarine fishes
Abstract:  Ecosystem health is reflected in the health of its organisms, including their nutritional suitability for consumption by humans. This project builds on the development of a new tool, Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis, to assess chemical composition and energetic quality of ocean fish near human establishments in southeast Alaska. These data will quantify current fish quality from these habitats, and provide a baseline in case of future habitat perturbations. 
Dates of Award: July 2018 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau Campus
Email: cabergstrom@alaska.edu
Staff page: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/dir/cabergstrom.html/


Andrea Bersamin photo

Principal Investigator: Andrea Bersamin
Title:  Tundra to Table: instruments and education pilot testing
Abstract:    
Dates of Award: July 2018 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: abersamin@alaska.edu
Staff page:


Angela Bowers photo

Principal Investigator: Angela Bowers
Title:  Nutritional quality of Macrocystis pyrifera at the northern end of its range
Abstract:  The goal of this project is to describe the seasonal nutritional biochemistry of giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, in Sitka Sound, Alaska. Giant kelp is an important subsistence food in Southeast Alaska.The objective of the proposed research is to test the hypothesis that the nutritional quality of Macrocystis in southeast Alaska is significantly lower than the nutritional quality of this macroalgae at lower latitudes. Through this project, rural students will be capable of conducting marine field research, be competent in skiff operations and repair, and practical problem solving as well as scientific method. 
Dates of Award: July 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: Sitka Sound Science Center
Email: abowers@sitkascience.org
Staff page: http://www.sitkascience.org/about/staff-members/


Principal Investigator: Robert Coker
Title: Influence of SkiKu on Resilience in Alaska Native Youth
Abstract: Unpredictable resources in Alaska have been further complicated by climate change, and the adoption of sedentary habits that represents a growing concern among Alaska Natives (AN). On the other hand, physical activity may even further enhance community support, family cohesion, and the overall quality of life. Through our partnership with the NANA Regional Corporation, we learned that the Skiku program was effective in improving physical activity in AN youth. In partnership with these AN communities, we now hypothesize that improvements in physical activity will translate to increased resilience and improvements in overall health and well-being. 
Dates of Award: Aug 2017 to June 2018 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: rcoker@alaska.edu
Staff page: https://people.iab.uaf.edu/robert_coker


Devin Drown faculty image

Principal Investigator: Devin Drown
Title: Mobilizing Alaska Genomics with Nanopore Sequencing
Abstract: The overall goal is to engage undergraduate researchers in measuring and testing the effects of the Alaska soil microbiome on ecosystem health. We will address how microbial communities alter ecosystem health, and how these effects interact with effects of global change. I will utilize recently developed transformative technology that enables remote collection of DNA sequence data. The data we collect will help to design future experiments on the evolution of soil pathogens. These plant-microbe interactions may influence how the plant community responds to changing climatic conditions and ultimately effect Alaskans who rely on the forest for food. 
Dates of Award: July 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: dmdrown@alaska.edu
Staff page: http://www.devindrown.com/mobilizing-alaskan-genomics/#more-974


Carie Green photo

Principal Investigator: Carie Green
Title: Measuring Emotions in Children's Environmental Identity Development
Abstract: Recognizing the prominent role that emotions play in the development of ones’ environmental identity development, this study will pilot an innovative methodology for measuring the affective attributes of Alaskan children’s relationship with the natural world. Specifically, the project will explore the use of mobile EEG, wearable cameras, and children's drawings as data collection methods for researching outdoor experiences with young children.
Dates of Award: July 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: cjgreen2@alaska.edu
Staff page: https://www.uaf.edu/soe/about-us/faculty/CarieGreen/


Principal Investigator: Cristina "Nina" Hansen
Title: Surviellance for and characterization of Leptospirosis in Alaskan caribou and reindeer
Abstract: This project contributes to the knowledge of leptospirosis in caribou and reindeer. There are sporadic reports of leptospiral titers in caribou, but very little is known of this disease in them. For this project, we have developed the following hypotheses: 1. Active leptospiral infections are present in Alaskan Rangifer. 2. A unique serovar is circulating in Alaskan Rangifer. To test these hypotheses, we will collaborate with the UAF's reindeer research program and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to obtain blood, urine, and tissue samples for analyses. This will be the first targeted surveillance for leptospirosis in Alaskan Rangifer. 
Dates of Award: July 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: cmhansen@alaska.edu
Staff page: https://www.uaf.edu/vmed/about-us/steering-committee/hansen-cristina/


Principal Investigator: Thomas Kuhn
Title: HIV-1 gp120-induced actin rod formation: A novel mechanism for HIV associated neurodegeneration
Abstract: Despite the success of antiretroviral therapies, the prevalence of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) remains high and affects over 45% of HIV infected individuals. Our research focuses on the formation of rod-like actin/cofilin inclusions, which impair dendritic spine morphology and synaptic plasticity all required for memory and learning. This novel neurodegenerative event is induced by the HIV coat protein gp120 as well as amyloid β, and inflammatory cytokines via a common signaling pathway involving NADPH oxidase, the cellular prion protein (PrPC) and an enhanced coalescence of lipid raft. Our studies target the role of the co-receptor CCR5 and CXCR4. 
Dates of Award: July 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: tbkuhn@alaska.edu
Staff page: https://www.uaf.edu/chem/faculty/tkuhn/


Mary Beth Leigh photo

Principal Investigator: Mary Beth Leigh
Title:  Phytoremediation of diesel-contaminated soil in rural Alaska
Abstract:    
Dates of Award: July 2018 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: mbleigh@alaska.edu
Staff page:


Principal Investigator: Andres Lopez
Title: Investigating the roles of Arctic lamprey populations in Alaska aquatic ecosystems
Abstract: We will use a 'genotyping by sequencing' approach to measure the amount and patterns of genomic diversity in populations of Arctic lamprey harvested in their spawning migrations along the Yukon River. By comparing the genetic measurements obtained in this study with existing reference genomes, we will test for functionally significant differences between populations spawning and rearing along the river. In addition, the information collected in this study will show if the lamprey harvested in Alaska belong to a large, broadly distributed common stock or a series of distinct stocks sharing a migration corridor. 
Dates of Award: July 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks 
Email: jalopez2@alaska.edu 
Staff page: http://www.uaf.edu/cfos/people/faculty/detail/index.xml?id=89


Josh Lupinek faculty image

Principal Investigator: Joshua Lupinek
Title: Virtual Reality Fitness: A Rural Alaskan Health Examination
Abstract: This project is Biomedicine related via investigating the intersection between virtual reality (VR) technology and the capabilities of increasing physical and mental health of remote Alaskan communities. This proposal outlines the benefits of researching if VR technology/equipment access (no charge to participants) increases the likelihood/willingness of these community members to increase their physical activity during the winter months.These unique rural Alaskan extreme environmental factors have a human health core and fit within the One Health umbrella. 
Dates of Award: July 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: jmlupinek@alaska.edu 
Staff page: http://www.uaf.edu/som/faculty-staff/faculty-directory/joshua-lupinek/


Jingqiu Mao photo

Principal Investigator: Jingqiu Mao
Title:  Characterizing transition metals in ambient PM2.5: a link between air pollution and human health
Abstract:    
Dates of Award: July 2018 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: jmao2@alaska.edu
Staff page:


Todd O'Hara image

Principal Investigator: Todd O'Hara
Title: Assessment of diets and Hg exposure in Alaskans
Abstract: This project will be facilitated through collaboration with a statewide Alaska Native network of organizations (e.g. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), Ilisagvik College).We have performed diet assessment and Hg exposure previously for humans (Mexico) and wildlife and are excited to do this for Sitka (with University of Alaska Southeast), and Barrow (with Ilisagvik College). In the laboratory undergraduate students will analyze samples for the proposed elements and lead laboratory discussions on statistical analyses and interpretation under mentorship of graduate students and professional research staff.
Dates of Award: July 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: tmohara@alaska.edu 
Staff page: https://www.uaf.edu/vmed/about-us/steering-committee/ohara-todd/


Laura Oxtoby photo

Principal Investigator: Laura Oxtoby
Title: Unalakleet River salmon: Investigating linkages between nutrient and life cycles
Abstract: The overarching goal of this project is to provide training and mentorship to undergraduate students, including an Alaska Native undergraduate student from Unalakleet, AK, to support scientific research on Pacific salmon from the Unalakleet River. Pacific salmon is a subsistence resource that is vital to the nutritional health, economy, and cultures of communities in rural Alaska. 
Dates of Award: Aug 2017 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: leoxtoby@alaska.edu 
Staff page: https://www.uaf.edu/case/personell/fellows/


Heidi Pearson photo

Principal Investigator: Heidi Pearson
Title:  Innovations in Biologger Technology to Assess Ocean Health
Abstract:    
Dates of Award: July 2018 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau Campus
Email: hcpearson@alaska.edu
Staff page:


Jacques Philip image

Principal Investigator: Jacques Philip
Title: Stories and images of community strength from a youth Dog Mushing Program in Rural Alaska
Abstract: This research proposes to engage community members in a rural community in interior Alaska to explore the effect of the Frank Attla Youth & Sled Dog Care-Mushing Program (FAYSDP) on social capital (the potential resources a group or individual may draw from its social relationships). The FAYSDP was started in early fall of 2012 in Huslia, a rural, mostly Athabascan community of about 300 people. The program has involved high and middle school students who learn dog handling and mushing skills from kennel owners, Elders, and other volunteers from the community.
Dates of Award: Aug 2017 to June 2019
Institution:University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: jphilip@alaska.edu
Staff page: https://www.iab.uaf.edu/directory/index.php?group=canhr


David Tallmon photo

Principal Investigator: David Tallmon
Title:  Rural Undergraduate Research and Learning using Salmon Adaptation Genomics and Experiments
Abstract:    
Dates of Award: July 2018 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau Campus
Email: datallmon@alaska.edu
Staff page:


Maegan Weltzin photo

Principal Investigator: Maegan Weltzin
Title:  Rabies glycoprotein interacts with neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in a subtype-selective manner
Abstract:    
Dates of Award: July 2018 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: mmweltzin@alaska.edu
Staff page:


Lei Zhang photo

Principal Investigator: Lei Zhang
Title:  Porous Metal-Organic-Framework Carrier as a Potential Platform for Drug Delivery
Abstract:  The goal of this project is to develop a novel type of metal-organic framework drug delivery system that is non-toxic, biocompatible and expected to exhibit higher drug storage capacity and longer drug release time compared to existing drug carriers. 
Dates of Award: July 2018 to June 2019 
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: lzhang14@alaska.edu
Staff page: http://cem.uaf.edu/me/people/lei-zhang.aspx