Meet the Staff

 Principal Investigator

Jerry Lipka


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, 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.

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.

Victor Zinger, Math Faculty


I was born in Russia, received my masters and doctoral degrees in mathematics and education from the famous and well-known university in St. Petersburg that was established in 1798.  Moved from St. Petersburg, Russia to Austin Texas in 1993 since then was teaching mathematics in the USA at the high schools and universities in Texas and Alaska and working with teachers and instructors.  I am living in Alaska since 2001 teaching mathematics at secondary and university level in Togiak, Ketchikan and Dillingham.  Currently I am a Professor of Mathematics at University of Alaska Fairbanks, living in Fairbanks, AK.  I am enthusiastic mathematics educator who believes that everyone could learn, enjoy and progress studying and succeeding in mathematics.  My former and current students always commended on my ability to reach out to everyone in my math classes and make the learning meaningful and productive. I really enjoy making my students successful in subject sharing with them power, beauty and incredible applicability of mathematics in almost every aspect of our lives. On a personal note, I really like to travel, cook, and interact with people.

Grant Support 


Amy Topkok, Project Coordinator


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.

Keely Colby, Graphic Designer


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 was delighted to make the trip from Maine to Alaska to begin working as a graphic designer for MCC.


Jumiah Johnston, Graphic Designer


Jumiah has recently transitioned from California to Fairbanks in pursuit of continuing his career in graphic design, illustrations, animation and art direction.  He enjoys working with Alaska Native elders and transfers their knowledge, digitally, so it may be passed down to future generations.

Sassa Peterson, Transcriber/Translator


Sassa Peterson has been a bilingual aide and classroom teacher as well as bilingual/multi-cultural facilitator for Dillingham City Schools and Sam Fox museum. She's taught in Homer and worked for Kenai Peninsula School district and Kenaitze Indian Tribe (a local tribal organization).  She has worked with elders for thirty years, having them share their expertise and skills in the classroom and museum through native dance, making of regalia and crafts.  She started working with elders in the university since the early 1990's and has been involved with MCC off and on for 20+ years. Most recently, she has been transcribing and translating for MCC and finds it rewarding to learn more from the elders' valuable knowledge, skills and expertise as well as in meetings that involve elders. She says the findings need to be passed on to future generations.

Caroline White, 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


Janet Henderson, Consultant


Evaluation and Research

Alexandra (Lexi) Hill, Project Evaluator


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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