Student Profiles

Diana Redwood, MS, MPH

Current Interdisciplinary student Diana Redwood is a lifelong Alaskan who is an avid outdoors person. Her interests include bike commuting to work, skate skiing, backcountry skiing, and trail running.  Diana also has a garden and chickens, dipnets for salmon, and is learning how to hunt.

Diana is the Colorectal Cancer Control Program Manager at the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). She currently manages the ANTHC Colorectal Cancer Control Program, a grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This program works to increase colorectal cancer screening among Alaska Native and American Indian people through the provision of direct screening services, public outreach, provider education, and policy and systems level improvements in the Alaska Tribal Health System. She has worked at ANTHC since 2004 and has managed the colorectal cancer projects at the Consortium for the past five years.

Diana obtained her Master of Public Health degree and Master of Science in Nutrition from Tufts University, Boston, MA.

Based on her areas of interest, Diana chose to pursue an Interdisciplinary PhD here at UAF. Her dissertation looks at colorectal cancer screening outreach in the Alaska Tribal Health System, especially to first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, and children) of colorectal cancer patients. Her results will have direct applicability and will be used by the Alaska Tribal Health System for expanding screening outreach among Alaska Native people.

In collaboration with her PhD Committee, composed of professors from the UAF Department of Psychology and the UAA Department of Public Health, Diana designed a course of study that includes program evaluation, qualitative data analysis, public policy, and cancer epidemiology.

"This program has allowed me the flexibility to create an academically rigorous program that has direct applicability to improving public health practice in Alaska."

Zachary Jones, MA

Zachary earned a Master of Arts in Comparative History from the College of William & Mary in Virginia in 2008, and is currently working towards a PhD in Ethnohistory from UAF with a focus on Tlingit/Russian relations. He also holds a Certificate of Russian Language Studies from St. Petersburg State University, Russia, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Archives & Records Administration from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.   Zachary is currently the Archivist & Collection Manager at the Sealaska Heritage Institute, a Native non-profit organization representing the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people, and is an Adjunct Instructor of History at University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) where he teaches history, anthropology, and museum/archival studies. He has published on European history and Native American Indian history and sits on various state and regional boards.

Zachary’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program is an Ethnohistory, which amalgamates fields of study from history and anthropology. Since he is focusing on Native American Indian history it is essential for him to understand the principles of both disciplines, making an Interdisciplinary program a perfect fit for him.

Zachary’s research focuses on aspects of Tlingit Indian sovereignty amid Russian intrusions into Tlingit lands prior to 1805. A component of his research addresses the Russian violations of the Tlingit legal system, and the Tlingit response. After completing his degree, Zachary plans to continue as an archivist and a university instructor.  

Johanna Herron

Johanna has been in Alaska since 2000 and love to grow things, hike, pick berries, and spend time with her family.  Johanna came to UAF with an interest in health and began working for the Center for Alaska Native Health Research (CANHR).  Working at CANHR provided the opportunity to see many different fields work on a similar goal and sparked her interest in an interdisciplinary approach to education and solving problems.  When she started her own family she became interested in children's diets and the role schools play in influencing those diets, specifically Farm-to-School programs as a strategy for inspiring good eating habits in kids.  

Johanna is working towards a Master of Science degree in Community Nutrition through UAF’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program. During her studies Johanna has learned about data collection methods, nutritional epidemiology, school foods, school procurement, childhood obesity, and related policy.  “My classes gave me the knowledge and tools I needed to conduct my project effectively. I think interdisciplinary not only gives you a more rich degree program but more opportunities.  Often you hear people discount Interdisciplinary degrees, which has baffled me, because you are basically getting a tailored degree.”

Because the University didn’t offer a specific degree that matched Johanna’s interest, working through the Interdisciplinary Studies Program made sense for Johanna.  “I could have taken a traditional path but that wouldn't have stood out with my specializing in Farm to School.  Anybody can get a degree in Biology but not many have one in 'Community Nutrition', especially when it isn’t offered at the institution I was attending."

When asked what is most rewarding about her program, Johanna stated "The most rewarding thing is the ability to do something that directly impacts the environment around me and is of interest to many people in the state.  This would not have been possible under a "typical" degree program.  The Interdisciplinary program puts a trust in the student to shape their knowledge base appropriately and lets you cut out some of the coursework that is not as relevant or helpful to your project.”

Johanna’s research was to conduct a state-wide survey with school food service professionals about their perspectives for utilizing more local foods in their meal programs.  She found they were not only interested in the topic, but had a lot to contribute regarding challenges and needed resources if they were to try and use more local foods.  

Johanna currently runs the state farm to school program in Alaska, with plans to expand this career to address regional and local food systems on a larger level after completing her Interdisciplinary studies degree at UAF.

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