Student Perspectives

“There are so many opportunities to gain practical experience at CFOS—whether in a course on field techniques, through an internship or being involved with the American Fisheries Society. As an undergraduate student you should try lots of things to find out what you like to do. Don’t come with a limited perspective. Keep your options open.”

Aaron Poetter, B.S. Fisheries ’03
Area Management Biologist
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

71% of UAF fisheries graduates stay to work in Alaska
37% go to work for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game 
20% go to work for federal agencies in Alaska


What are you studying or researching?

Bachelor of Science in Fisheries - focusing on Bristol Bay sockeye salmon runs, sustainability, and population diversity

Why did you choose to come to CFOS for graduate school?

I haven't yet applied to graduate school at CFOS, but since graduating I have been working with Peter Westley on to collect biophysical data for the State of Alaska's Salmon and People organization. Essentially we are compiling biological information to help assess the current status of salmon throughout Alaska.

What do you think makes UAF/CFOS unique?

The community and the professors are what make both UAF and CFOS unique. I transferred here after attending two other universities and immediately felt like I was a part of this school. People throughout campus have always been friendly and helpful. My advisor and professors both made sure I graduated in a reasonable amount of time and while learning information that is vital to a career in fisheries. Since becoming associated with CFOS, I have obtained many awesome jobs and broadened my perspectives of both fisheries and people. There are numerous academic and extracurricular groups and activities that made attending UAF and CFOS worth my time.

What class do you recommend that every incoming CFOS student takes and why?

I enjoyed all of the fisheries courses required for my degree. Two of my favorites were Fish and Fisheries of Alaska (F288), Ichthyology (F427), and Salmon & Society (F493). Each of these classes expanded upon topics I was already familiar with and interested in while allowing me to broaden my perspectives.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Get in touch with other students, either within your degree program or at a higher level to gain perspectives of what your future may hold. Network as much as you can, and ask for any information you want. Get involved in student groups such as AFS. You may be surprised by the opportunities that come your way.

What is your favorite thing to do in Fairbanks?

Obviously fishing is my favorite thing to do in Alaska, it is what brought me here when I was a child and as an adult. This state gives you the opportunity to do so many outdoor activities, you won't have the time to do them all. Skiing, hiking, hunting, foraging, skijoring, snowmachining, mushing, live music... you never run out of things to do in Fairbanks.

Madeline Jovanovich, 2016

What are you studying or researching?

Studying BA in Fisheries and Minor in Marketing. I am also working in Trent Sutton's lab working on burbot. We are evaluating vertebrae, whole otoliths and fin rays to estimate age.

Why did you choose to come to CFOS for graduate school?

I heard about CFOS through the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle. A couple of graduate students were at a booth explaining the CFOS and inspired me to look into it. I knew I was interested in Fisheries since my Freshman year of college.

What do you think makes UAF/CFOS unique?

UAF/CFOS is unique by how many opportunities the undergraduate and graduate students have. We receive E-mails on internships, seminars to attend and job possibilities. The staff and professors are incredibly supportive and encourage their students to be passionate.

What class do you recommend that every incoming CFOS student takes and why?

I recommend that every incoming CFOS student take the introduction courses so they have a better understanding of what they want to study, even though it is required. Examples are Fact and Fishin: Case Studies F102, Fish and Fisheries in a Changing World 110 and The Harvest of the Sea F103. All BS and BA students take the same classes for the first couple of years, but it's okay to change majors or concentrations.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

My advice is to talk to any academic advisers and do some research on the CFOS; the website online is incredibly useful.

What is your favorite thing to do in Fairbanks?

My favorite thing to do in Fairbanks is back country ski and camp.

What are you studying or researching?

I am studying the importance of ice algae in the diet of benthic invertebrates in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea. I am using fatty acids, isotopes and other biomarkers to trace the ice algal production through the water column and into animals such as crabs and clams.

Why did you choose to come to CFOS for graduate school?

I choose to come to CFOS because it has a great reputation for marine biological research, and specifically Arctic research. My advisor Dr. Katrin Iken had an amazing research opportunity which I could not pass up. Overall, CFOS faculty are working on some amazing projects spanning across all facets of Arctic research.

What do you think makes UAF/CFOS unique?

I think the working relationship between students, faculty and staff at UAF/CFOS is quite unique. Everyone here works very closely together and we are like a large family, always supporting one another.

What class do you recommend that every incoming CFOS student takes and why?

I think the IMS seminar is a great class to enroll in to get an overview of other student's and faculty's research. It also allows students to learn about other research topics than simply their own project.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

The best advice I can give incoming students is to be open to new experiences. Alaska can be a difficult place to live in, but if you embrace the seasons it can also be the most remarkable place you have ever seen. For your academic career I can only suggest to make the best of the opportunities given to you. If you do you can have the chance to experience amazing Arctic research cruises.

What is your favorite thing to do in Fairbanks?

This is a difficult question. I would say that my favorite thing to do in winter is skijoring and mushing. It is a fun way of exploring Alaskan winters with dogs.

What are you studying or researching?

I am researching the use of optical instrumentation to study particle flux, specifically trying to describe the influence of zooplankton on particle size structure in relation to depth in the water column. There are lots of unanswered questions within this realm, so I am now working on what questions are best addressed with the tools we are using.

Why did you choose to come to CFOS for graduate school?

I chose to come to CFOS to graduate school because of the breadth of the Oceanography graduate program; I particularly like that as a Master's student I am required to take 4 different disciplines in Oceanography, which is not the case in other programs. I found that people from CFOS were quick to respond to my questions and were easy to communicate with. This is the case not only with my own advisor but most other people I contacted at the school as well.

What do you think makes UAF/CFOS unique?

I think one of the biggest things that makes UAF and CFOS unique is the incredible opportunities offered to both undergraduate and graduate students alike for hands on field experience across so many disciplines.

What class do you recommend that every incoming CFOS student takes and why?

I recommend every incoming CFOS graduate student to take proposal writing as soon as they can. It is an invaluable experience where you get feedback on your project ideas from fellow graduate students as well as a very experienced professor, Dr. Katrin Iken, who is incredibly helpful.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

The best advice I could give to prospective students is to embrace all that Fairbanks and the school has to offer when they come into the program. As a graduate student you work incredibly hard, but the people surrounding you and the unique opportunities the interior of Alaska and UAF offer make it all worthwhile!

What is your favorite thing to do in Fairbanks?

My favorite thing to do in Fairbanks thus far is cross country skiing during the Winter; it gives me a reason to be outside even when it can be brutally cold and opens up so many opportunities for exploring places that would otherwise be inaccessible.

"Learn more about Jessica's research on how underwater cameras help identify carbon pathways in the ocean."

What are you studying or researching?

I am PhD student studying sea otters and their role in eelgrass ecosystems in Southeast Alaska

Why did you choose to come to CFOS for graduate school?

I was drawn to CFOS because of the diverse topics of research, post graduate job placement, access to field sites, and genuine desire to askfundamental ecological questions that have direct management applications.

What do you think makes UAF/CFOS unique?

The diverse set of research topics and faculty. While I am very focused on my work I am surrounded by all sorts of other research. This challenges my assumptions and world view, which greatly contributes to my overall education and development as ascientist. Also, the integration of social science into "traditional" fisheries and ecological course work. I know of no other life science department wheresocialscience plays suchapredominantrole.

What class do you recommend that every incoming CFOS student takes and why?

Either FISH 676 - Aquatic Food Web Ecology or FISH 604 - Modern Applied Statistics. Food webs because lets face it everything is a part of a food web, and stats because data is nothing unless you know how to use it.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Talk to current students about their experience. If you are coming to Juneau, get a new rain jacket.

What is your favorite thing to do in Fairbanks?

I don't know because I have never been there. In Juneau I like to hike, ski, go to first Friday downtown, and generally revel in the naturalbeauty right out my back door (or office window).

My family and I came to Alaska in 1994 with the Army, and since that time I have worked in various positions with the Air Force and the University.

Currently I am serving as Assistant Professor of Applied Business and Applied Accounting at UAFs Community and Technical College. Several years ago I decided to go back to school and earn my BA in Fisheries. In May of 2016 I finally graduated.

So why would a faculty member go back to school to get another undergraduate degree? For me the decision was easy. I am passionate about my academic discipline, applied business, and I am very passionate about fisheries, particularly Alaskan fisheries.

During the academic year I teach courses in small business planning and management and various marketing courses.

During the summer I run a halibut charter operation in Valdez and do some small scale commercial shrimping as well. The courses that I took through the BA program were invaluable for my business, they gave me a deeper understanding of fisheries, and even helped me in the courses I teach.

From fisheries economics to seafood business planning, the degree program was right in line with my interest, and the faculty are amazing.

I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is interested in the human dimensions or the business side of fisheries.

In this autobiographical piece, Kevin Fraley tells us why he decided to study fisheries and why he chose to come to UAF for college.

I grew up in Kalispell, Montana, as the son of a fisheries biologist. I was exposed to the outdoors and fish when I was very young. My dad got me interested in fishing and aquatic insects, and I often helped him when he made presentations about natural resources and fisheries.

Later, when I was in fourth grade, I volunteered in the “Hooked on Fishing not on Drugs Program” at my elementary school. “Hooked on Fishing” is a program where kids are taken out on fishing trips at local bodies of water to increase their connection with the outdoors and wildlife. I continued to help with this program until I graduated from high school.

Another fisheries-related activity I participated in was the “Fishing Without Barriers Day.” This is an activity where disabled anglers from all over Montana were taken out on Flathead Lake in charter boats to fish for the sporty and succulent lake trout. I helped these anglers fight and land the fish, and also assisted the charter boat captains with various nautical tasks.

I was and still am an avid fisherman, and this helped me appreciate the world of fish even more. I liked to fish for different and interesting fish, and I marveled at their strange and intriguing habits. It was then, in about seventh grade, that I decided I wanted to become a fish biologist like my father.

I continued to participate in “Hooked on Fishing” and “Fishing Without Barriers Day,” and I also began to volunteer for my dad at Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

I went with him several times to count Westslope cutthroat trout (Montana’s state fish) and bull trout redd (a nest made by fish in gravel to lay eggs and spawn) counts in the area.

I also tagged along on genetic surveys, population estimates, and fish stocking efforts.

Several summers ago I went on a three day mark and recapture population estimate with the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Fisheries crew.

This was a hook and line capture estimate, so it was lots of fun. It was also nice to hang out with the biologists on this trip. I realized that the field of fisheries must draw some pretty good people because everybody on the crew was very likeable and easy to relate to.

One summer during my undergraduate program, I was chosen as an American Fisheries Society Hutton Scholarship/Internship winner. During this internship I learned about fisheries techniques and the importance of public opinion. I was able to get the feel of what a fisheries biologist’s job is really like. I participated in a wide variety of fun jobs such as gill-netting, plankton sampling, electrofishing from boat and backpack, and stocking fish. I even learned how to sort aquatic insects by order.

All these experiences have made me realize that fisheries is the career for me, and I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. It also makes me feel good to know that I’m contributing to the health and good management of the fish populations that I love.

I decided to come to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for several reasons, chiefly because I wanted to experience the wildness of Alaska. It also helped that the unit leader of a prestigious fisheries school in the Lower 48 recommended UAF’s program over his own.

The staff at UAF and the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences were more personable and helpful than those at other universities. I also earned several substantial scholarships that have allowed me to attend UAF.

As a fisheries student at UAF, I looked forward to gaining new perspectives on what fisheries management is like in Alaska and learn about Alaska’s fish, many of which are new to me.

Fisheries has not always been my career choice, although I have been involved in subsistence and commercial fisheries since I was very young.

I grew up in Dillingham, Alaska subsisting and being involved with commercial fishing. I went off to a private college after high school to study biology, with the intent to go to medical school. After a summer internship counting salmon in a remote field setting I changed my course of studies to fisheries.

I have a particular interest in fisheries management as I have experience as a fisherwoman and an intern biologist. I am in my second semester of the fisheries program at UAF and have nothing but good things to say about my professors and peers at UAF. Because of the community atmosphere I plan to stay in Fairbanks and enter into the graduate program. I look forward to being a part of the exciting growth and development that the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences is undergoing.

(Note: In Spring 2010 fisheries senior Shelley Woods received the Outstanding Student Award for the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. She was recognized at the UAF annual student awards breakfast in late April and at an American Fisheries Society Fairbanks Sub-Unit barbecue in May.

Woods also received a $2,000 scholarship from CFOS as the outstanding senior in the fisheries undergraduate program. She plans to graduate this fall with a B.S. in fisheries and then continue on to graduate studies in fisheries at CFOS.

Other scholarship winners for the fisheries program include outstanding junior Keegan Birchfield ($2,000), sophomore Chris Oliver ($1,500) and freshman Mark Setzer ($1,500). Learn more about fisheries scholarships here.

Hello, my name is Jess Johnson and I am originally from Montana. I came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries. I graduated with my B.S. in fisheries in spring 2008. At UAF, I was an active member of our student subunit of the American Fisheries Society. In 2007, I was the secretary for the subunit and I am currently serving as the president.

I have had two great job experiences in fisheries during my undergraduate career at UAF. The first one was with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game where I worked as a College Intern II with Lisa Stuby on her project that involved radio-tagging Chinook salmon on the Kuskokwim River. The second opportunity I had was with the Bureau of Land Management where I worked as a Biological Aide with Jason Post on his project that involved taking age, sex, and length on Chinook and chum salmon on the Tozitna River. After graduation, I plan to use these valuable fisheries experiences and the knowledge I gained from my education at UAF to find a position as a Fisheries Biologist with a state department or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Where do you work now and what do you do?

I work for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Dillingham Alaska. I am the commercial fisheries manager for the west side of Bristol Bay (Nushagak and Togiak Districts) and I manage the Togiak herring fishery. How did your time at CFOS prepare you for your current position? My time at CFOS was great. I learned a lot about Alaska fish and fisheries as well as ecology. Obviously to be a biologist with ADF&G one must have a degree (at least a bunch of credits) in fisheries or biology so in that respect I would not be where I am today without having spent time at CFOS.

What brought you to Alaska for school?

When I was a kid in Arizona my best friend was from Alaska and the stories of the fishing and outdoors just seemed great. I decided in third grade that I would live in Alaska.

What did you like about studying at UAF?

I really liked the community of it. My brother went to a school with 25,000 students and I just can’t imagine that. UAF was small and friendly and still a very good school. It was also relatively cheap and had a good fisheries program.

What piece of advice do you have for current CFOS students?

College isn’t all about classes. Of course you have to pass the classes but be involved in other things and have fun. Get off campus and see Alaska, it is a beautiful place. If you want to work for ADF&G when you are done try and get summer jobs there.

Former Knauss Fellow

“I found that the CFOS faculty members were always helpful when it came to finding summer work opportunities through agencies or the school. During the school year hands-on fisheries techniques classes kept me interested with tangible scholastic activities.”


by Amanda Byrd, former student

Fairbanks often differs considerably from what most people expect prior to their arrival. Contrary to portrayals on television (such as Northern Exposure), Fairbanks is not a vast wilderness with wild animals running through it (for the most part, anyway), though a short drive in any direction will take you to wilderness. Instead, it is a fairly typical city: larger than some, smaller than others. You can find many of the conveniences you would expect to find in a city of its size in the lower 48. Fairbanks has fast food chains, national department and discount stores (Costco, Home Depot, and Walmart), and restaurants. In addition to the many taxidermy shops, we have Chinese, Japanese, Asian fusion, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Mediterranean, Puerto Rican, Vietnamese and American restaurants; a Regal 16 screen movie theater; sporting goods stores; and the list goes on. The point is that we have many of the stores that people in the lower 48 have become accustomed to.

The cost of living in Fairbanks is thought to be high, primarily because of the expense of shipping. However, perspectives vary. Fairbanks prices are very similar to Long Island, NY, but expensive compared to those in Charlottesville, VA. It is possible to live here at varying levels of comfort, solely on a stipend if you budget your funds. Grocery bills vary from person to person, depending on what they eat and where they shop. In general, monthly grocery bills begin around $100. For comparison, milk is generally around $3.50-$4.00 a gallon, bread is around $1.79-$2.89, and soup is around $1.10. Noodles can be purchased for 5/$1.00 during sales. As far as other expenses go, gas prices range $4.00-$4.50/gallon, theater movies are $8.50 ($5.50 on cheap night), rental movies are around $3.75, and dining out averages $20.00.

Now that you have an idea of what sort of place to expect, let’s discuss the weather. As you might know, Alaska is the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” In Fairbanks, the number of daylight hours varies from about 21 hours in June (and no, it never gets dark) to about 3 hours in December. Winter is often long, usually lasting from early October through April. Spring and fall are virtually nonexistent, lasting only a couple of weeks, often in September and May. And summer always feels a lot shorter than it really is. Temperatures can range from an occasional bitter –60°F during the coldest, darkest winter months to a sweltering 90 degrees during the daylight-filled summer months. However, more typical extreme temperatures lie around –30°F in the winter and the 70s to upper 80s in the summer. Interior Alaska is so dry that it is likened to an arctic desert, and UAF is situated to receive very little wind. So, it is a dry cold rather than the wet cold you would find in Minnesota. Being prepared for both of these extremes is a must. When it is 30°F or colder, you will want to have the warmest clothes on. Frostbite is a real danger, but can be easily avoided with simple common sense. Bunny boots (military-issue pressurized boots), Sorels (pac-type boots with wool felt liners), mukluks, or similar types of footwear are highly recommended, although you can survive without them. Some people adjust to the weather behaviorally by spending shorter periods of time outdoors and wearing hiking boots with two pairs of warm socks. However, this is not advisable in extreme weather. A very warm arctic parka is a necessity, as well as a thick wool hat, a scarf, wool socks, and heavy long underwear. Mittens are preferable, as they provide more warmth for your fingers than do gloves. These items can be purchased here in Fairbanks, but if you already have them, then you can save money by bringing them with you. Shopping at Big Ray's and The Prospector is the best place for warm winter gear. Big Ray's is locally owned and has a huge range of great-priced boots and clothes. The Prospector is the best place for gloves. When it warms up you don’t want to be stuck wearing all these heavy clothes, so bring spring and summer  clothes as well. You can expect to be wearing shorts once temperatures reach 45 to 50°F. This may sound absurd to you now, but it’s true. The vast range of temperatures requires you to be prepared for both extremes and everything in between. Oh, and don’t forget the bug spray. The mosquitoes are as big as they say.

What to do in your spare time: Ski on the beautiful UAF trails right from your back door (literally). The trails are groomed for both skate skiing and classical and are perfect for a leisurely ski or a hard workout. Ski equipment is available at many stores in town including Play-it-Again-Sports, Beaver Sports and Goldstream Sports. Also ski rental is very affordable at Outdoor Adventures ( on lower campus in the Wood Center. This organization is run for students, staff and affiliates and provides equipment rentals and amazing Alaskan trips. Trips range from 1-day hikes, bike trips or whitewater rafting, to weeklong sea kayaking in Prince William Sound or hiking in the Brooks Range. The Pub on campus is a great venue for live music, wine and beer tasting, movies and a whole lot more, and it is smoke free! (Remember, you must be 21 years to enter.) Student activities organizes events for students and through them you will meet a wide range of students and partake in social events. The UAF trails also cater to walkers, snowshoers and dogs. There is a Pooch Loop, which is around 1 mile and weaves through the ski trails. On weekends in winter, Alaska Dog Mushers Association ( holds sled dog races at Mushers Hall on Farmers Loop (5 miles from campus). This is a spectator sport and you may even be asked to help in holding the sleds or dogs before the races. Chena Hot Springs is 50 miles along Chena Hot Springs Road. This a great place to visit after a backpacking, ski, or hiking trip.

by Katie Palof, current graduate student

Juneau is not what people expect when they think of Alaska. It is situated in a temperate rainforest and surrounded on three sides by water and the other by glacial ice fields. Living in Juneau is much like living on an island—the only way out is either by plane or ferry. Besides that, Juneau is a typical town. We have modern conveniences but are definitely limited in choices. Living in Juneau definitely makes you experienced in Internet shopping! We have a Wal-Mart, Fred Meyers, Costco, and a couple grocery stores. In addition to all of the tourist’s shops downtown, we also have a few good restaurants, a movie theater, a couple gyms, etc. So, we have many of the stores and conveniences that people in the lower 48 have become accustomed to. In addition, Juneau has miles of beautiful, breathtaking trails that can be explored in the summer and winter (with snowshoes or skis), along with Eaglecrest ski area, which is open November through April for ski enthusiasts.

The cost of living in Juneau is thought to be high, primarily because of the increased shipping costs. However, this opinion varies from person to person. It all depends on your perspective. For example, the Juneau cost of living is slightly lower than that of Long Island, NY, but far higher than Charlottesville, VA. It is possible to live here, at varying levels of comfort, solely on a graduate stipend…if you budget your funds. Grocery bills vary, of course, from household to household, depending on what you eat and where you shop. In general, monthly grocery bills begin around $300. For a ballpark idea of some prices: milk is about $3.00 a gallon, bread ranges from $2.00 to $5.00, and canned soup is around $1.00 to $4.00. Top Ramen Noodles can be purchased for 4/$1.00 usually. As far as other expenses go, gas prices are currently $4.26/gallon (but are climbing in accordance with the economy), movie tickets are $10.00, movie rentals are around $3.95, and dining out averages around $20.00.

Checks are accepted almost anywhere in Juneau (and in Alaska in general). Photo identification is required, usually a driver’s license (preferably Alaskan), and a phone number. Many local banks offer free checking accounts to students and do not require much of a minimum balance. For this reason, an account register is a must. Plan to switch your bank accounts to a local bank or credit union as soon as possible after you arrive. This will make banking a lot easier for you. We are finding that more and more businesses do not accept checks and many Juneau businesses do not accept all types of credit cards and some (including the movie theater) do not accept any credit cards. It’s a good idea to carry some cash with you just in case.

As you have probably noticed, transportation to and from Alaska is expensive. Unfortunately, there is almost no way around this. Alaska Airlines is the ONLY airline that flies in and out of Juneau, and you can expect to pay at least $500 to get from Juneau to Seattle, WA. Tickets to the East Coast often range in the upper $800. You can get the best deal by purchasing your ticket about three to six months in advance, although at least one month in advance should produce a decent price. Also it’s a good plan to keep up with the sales available through Alaska Airlines ( and to get a mileage plan number, because there are lots of ways to earn miles. If you plan on driving to Juneau you will need to take the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry system) to actually bring your vehicle into the city. You can catch a ferry to Juneau from the west coast in either Bellingham, WA, or Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Or you could take the scenic route through Canada and end up in either Skagway or Haines, Alaska. If driving is your plan consult the Alaska Marine Highway website ( for schedules and remember that advanced reservations are needed for vehicles.

It is a good idea to have a place to stay when you first arrive in Juneau. Many new students get a room in the dorms at UAS (University of Alaska Southeast) or stay at their advisor’s house. If you get in touch with some of the current grad students before you arrive, we can arrange some bed/couch/floor space for you. Phone numbers or email addresses for grad students can be obtained from your advisor or Gabrielle Hazelton, our go to person here in Juneau. Your best plan is to get to know Gabrielle, as well as the other office workers, once you arrive here in Juneau to ensure that your stay here is well informed and stress-free.

Please take a moment to get in touch with us, so we can help you get set up. If you would rather stay in a hotel/motel, there are several in Juneau for you to choose from. If you arrive in the fall, you can expect a student orientation in the beginning of the semester, along with some type of welcoming get together. Make sure you check your new UAF e-mail account for updates on these events.

Now that you have an idea of what sort of place to expect, let’s discuss the weather. As you might know, Alaska is the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” However, in Juneau our daylight is not as extreme as northern Alaska; the number of daylight hours varies from about 18 hours in June to about 6.5 hours in December. Juneau is situated in a temperate rainforest and we joke that we have 2 seasons: winter (snow) and spring/summer/fall (rain). Winter can be long, but usually lasts from late November through March. Spring and summer are virtually nonexistent, lasting only a couple of weeks, often in May and June. Fall always feels like the longest season, some years starting in August and continuing until December or so, depending on when we get snow.

Juneau has a fairly temperate climate, and most of the year temperatures range from 20°F in the cold winter months to high 60s during the daylight-filled summer months. However, the majority of the year (spring, summer and fall) the temperature is Juneau is a comfortable 55°F. Juneau receives an annual average of 57 to 90 inches of rainfall and 98 inches of snow. Being situated between multiple tall mountains Juneau tends to be a rainy, foggy valley, so be prepared for many overcast days, but also be prepared to enjoy the sun when it shines. Investing in a good waterproof yet breathable raincoat is a MUST HAVE for getting by in Juneau.

Juneau does not face the extreme cold temperatures of northern Alaska, therefore “winterizing” your vehicle is NOT necessary. Snow tires and/or 4-wheel drive are helpful for dealing with the snow and ice, as well as the large number of hills and steep driveways. The majority of your lower 48 cars will work out just fine up here, and if you decide you need snow tires, Costco offers them at a fairly normal price.

If you do not have a car or truck, getting around Juneau can be hard. Bicycling is a very good possibility, with the proper gear and information and if you don’t mind riding in the rain most of the time. Keep in mind that cycling in the winter can be hazardous. Great care needs to be taken, especially when it’s dark and the roads are icy. We do have a public transportation system that covers most of the highly populated areas of Juneau. However, as of summer 2008 it does not run out to the CFOS building at Lena Point. From the last bus stop to the Lena Point facility is about 5.5 miles, easily doable by bike, but a pretty far walk. To see the most current maps and bus routes, visit

Finding a place to live in Juneau can be hard, but it isn’t impossible. You will want to make arrangements as soon as you can. Graduate students live in a variety of accommodations: a dorm room, a room in someone’s house, or an apartment. Most students try to live in the Auke Bay or Back Loop area, both of which are closer to the University, but any apartment in the “valley” area would be good. If you are looking at apartments in downtown Juneau or “West” Juneau (really Douglas island—definitely your furthest housing option) you will probably drive about 30 miles roundtrip to the University and back; however, it will take you about 30 minutes one way to make this commute. Due to the tourist season many apartments are occupied until late September by seasonal employees, so if you don’t have much luck for an apartment at first you may want to find temporary housing and wait. Additionally, housing is difficult to fine from January to May due to the influx of all the legislature staffers. Landlords vary in whether or not they will allow pets, especially dogs. It can be a big gamble and severely limit your housing possibilities if you have a pet of any kind.

Newspaper ads (visit, signs posted on campus, and word-of-mouth exchanges tend to dominate as advertisement. If you want to peruse a paper for housing before you get here, our local paper is the Juneau Empire. It would probably be easiest to have your advisor send you a copy or check out their website: The listings in the classifieds may give you an idea of what you can expect in terms of housing and other things. Be forewarned! Good housing vacancies are filled extremely quickly, as is true at most universities. Generally, there are more vacancies in May than there are in September. Don’t get too discouraged. Just keep your eyes open and realize that one semester in a less than ideal location is merely an opportunity to seek out a prime spot. Rent varies according to proximity to the University, size, and quality. Check the housing information flyer you receive with other UAF propaganda for the cost of a dorm room. Renting a room in someone’s home is a fairly easy option, costing about $500 per month. Rent for a furnished, one-bedroom apartment begins around $850 a month, plus utilities. Unfurnished and one-room efficiency apartments are usually a little bit less.

The Lena Point Fisheries Facility will be your home away from home during your time here as a student. As already mentioned, once you arrive in Juneau, make contact with our office here. The staff will all be helpful and essential to settling you in to your Juneau–CFOS home. They are the ones you’ll see for access to buildings, labs, and offices as well as information on getting paid (an essential) and registering for classes. Also, please consult the office if you need to ship items to Juneau and do not yet have an address.