Meet the Staff

Principal Investigator

Jerry Lipka photograph for biography.

Jerry Lipka

Phone: 907-474-6439
Fax: 907-474-7270

For the past forty-plus years I have been working in cross-cultural education. I have had the privilege to work with Yup’ik elders and learn from them. I have been amazed by their knowledge and continue to learn from elders. Based on their knowledge and along with many collaborators, we have developed the Math in a Cultural Context series. Now through collaborative work with Dora Andrew-Ihrke and others, we are developing an alternative mathematical learning trajectory based on elders’ knowledge. 

Project Faculty

Dora Andrew-Ihrke biography photo with headdress.

Dora Andrew-Ihrke, Adjunct Faculty


I have been a bilingual aid, classroom teacher, and program coordinator of bilingual/bicultural education at Dillingham City Schools. My teaching was recognized by the larger educational community: 1985 a recipient of Dillingham City Schools’ Excellence in Teaching, 1990 a Milken Educator Award and Alaska Teacher of the Year, and a 2001 recipient of the Alaska Federation of Natives education award. Now I am a faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Education in the Math in a Cultural Context (MCC) program. From childhood on I have been working with Yup’ik elders. During the past years through the MCC program, I have been sharing the lessons I learned from my mother and other elders. This work has led to the development of the MCC curriculum series and to our latest work on developing elementary school mathematics based on elders’ knowledge.

Araceli Valle biography photo.

Araceli Valle, Math Faculty

Phone: 907-474-7232

Araceli Valle had a 20-year career in the computer industry (MS, Computer Engineering, Stanford) before turning her attention to sociocultural and motivational factors that impact human cognitive development (PhD, Developmental Psychology, UC Santa Cruz). Her research has explored origins of scientific thinking in informal learning contexts among middle-class US families, and literacy development in schools in the US and in Spain. She has taught at UC Santa Cruz, Mount Holyoke and Allegheny colleges. She joined the Math in a Cultural Context project as math faculty in Fall of 2013.

Evelyn Yanez biography photo from 2013 Summer Math Institute.

Evelyn Yanez, Adjunct Faculty


Eva Evelyn Yanez, a former Yup’ik teacher and state-recognized bilingual educator, has been involved in education for over 30 years. She has extensive experience working with Yup’ik Elders and collecting, recording, transcribing and translating traditional Yup’ik stories.

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Victor Zinger, Project Mathematician

Grant Support

Photograph of Amy Topkok for her biography.

Amy Topkok, Project Coordinator

Phone: 907-474-7306
Fax: 907-474-7270

Uvaa atia Ahnaughuq. My Iñupiaq Eskimo name is Ahnaughuq, which means “Little Girl.”   I’m named after my paternal ahna (grandmother) Katherine Koiyuk (Eningowuk) Barr of Shishmaref. My English name is Amelia Katherine (Barr) Topkok, but everyone calls me Amy. I was born in Kotzebue, and grew up in Kotzebue and Nome. My parents are Delano Naunauq and Minnie Esther Saumik (Onalik) Barr of Shishmaref. My paternal grandparents are the late Katherine (mentioned), and the late Gideon Barr Sr. of Shishmaref, and my maternal grandparents are the late Victoria (Wesley) and the late Herbert Onalik Sr. of Noatak. I am full-blooded Iñupiaq. I speak fluent Norwegian, little Iñupiaq, and grew up speaking English.

I am working with Math in a Cultural Context as the Project Coordinator. I earned my bachelor's degree in fine arts in 1997 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I began my masters' degree coursework fall semester 2012. My husband and I have founded the Pavva Iñupiaq Dancers in 1999 and dance frequently with my sons and other members of the group. I am also currently involved with the Alaska Native Education Title VII grant Parent Advisory Committee and firmly believe in providing positive and enlightening opportunities for our Native Youth as well as those interested in furthering their education. My other passions include photography, sewing atikluks, quilting, drawing, socializing, proud parent of three sons, and hopefully serving as a positive role model for other Native women in today’s demanding and fast-paced world.

Photograph of Keely Colby for her biography.

Keely Colby, Graphic Designer

Phone: 907-474-7152

Keely was born and raised in Midcoast Maine. Originally interested in Computer Science, she realized after her first year of school that she was meant for a more creative discipline. So, she switched majors to graphic design and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Media, Arts and Communication from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. While in school, she interned at Smith & Jones, a marketing firm in Troy, NY and at Intellidemia, a higher ed syllabus management company out of New York. She graduated in 2012, and was delighted to make the trip from Maine to Alaska to begin working as a graphic designer for MCC.

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Caroline Hoover, Student Assistant


Caroline is a Yup’ik Eskimo from Kasigluk, Alaska. She envisions herself as a future leader, a teacher, an inspirer, and a motivator to children and indigenous peoples of Alaska. Alaska has been her home, her only home. She plans on living here the rest of her life, improving the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in rural areas. Caroline was raised by three teachers; her mother, father, and sister. Because of their support, she plans on completing the general university requirements and acquiring a Bachelor’s degree in Rural Development. 

Professional Development

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Janet Henderson, Consultant

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Gretchen Murphy, Consultant

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Paula Savikko, Consultant

Evaluation and Research

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Alexandra (Lexi) Hill, Project Evaluator

Biography photo of Monica Wong.

Monica Wong

Dr. Monica Wong works with the mathematics education team at Australian Catholic University, Strathfield campus after completing her Ph.D. in 2009 in mathematics assessment and fractions. Her research interests include primary school students' development of proficiency in whole number and their acquisition of conceptual understanding of rational number. Currently she is working with final year BEd students and a local high school to enhance pre-service teachers’ pedagogical and mathematical knowledge in practice. Her other interests include quantitative and mixed methods research design, quantitative analysis and Rasch modelling. She is collaborating with Math in a Cultural Context on the assessment of the mathematical approach and curriculum material being developed for Alaskan teachers. Monica lives in Strathfield, New South Wales, Australia.

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