CNSM Celebrating Excellence Awards 2019-2020

Outstanding Students

Jonilee Polanco

Biological Sciences:  Jonilee Polanco

Jonilee is a Dominican and Puerto Rican first generation student on her mother’s side. She is a proud queer scientist who has been involved in research since her sophomore year, and started at UAF at the age of 16. She is funded through the NiH as a BLaST scholar, interned at NASA Headquarters in Florida, and was granted an NSF international research experience at the end of the world in Sub-Antarctic Chile. She is passionate about diversity and the arts being integrated into the sciences and hopes to pursue a graduate career in Ethnobotany.

 

 JD Harwell

Chemistry:  JD Harwell

"There’s a recipe to a JD Harwell. It goes something like this:  1 Part Chemist, 2 Parts Comedian. 2 Parts Entrepreneur, and 3 Parts Entertainer. Splash in a dash of car salesman and add devoted Daddy liberally. Blend for a lifetime and you’ll just about have one.

JD practices “Kaizen,” the philosophy of continuous improvement. He believes reaching a goal or top of a mountain is no reason to rest. It’s just a great view from which to see a bigger mountain. JD left his career in 2016 and became a Nanook in pursuit of a bigger mountain.

He devoted himself to studying Chemistry and Biochemistry at UAF which propelled him into the top 2% of students worldwide on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Accepted to multiple medical schools, JD will begin MD school in Fall 2020. Upon completion, he plans a career in medicine and biotechnology caring for patients and developing innovative treatments, freeing them from limitations."

 Brian Grams

Geography:  Brian Grams

Brian Grams is a Geography major, minoring in Geographic Information Systems. His academic goal is to graduate within the next year, with a career goal of pursuing aviation, building flight hours towards a commercial pilot certification, eventually incorporating his degree to use in remote sensing ventures. Born and raised in Alaska, Brian takes full advantage of the great outdoors including hunting, hiking, biking, backcountry snowboarding, and snowmachining. In the summers you can find him commercial fishing in Bristol Bay to fund his continued learning and travels throughout the world. At UAF Brian has been inspired to strive for high levels of academic achievement and has defined a true heading in life. 

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Mathematics:  Rohan Weeden

I started my time at UAF studying Computer Science and finally graduated with an M.S. last fall, but I became hooked on Mathematics after taking ‘Intro to Proofs’ to fill out my schedule. I decided to apply for an additional year of undergrad, this time studying Math, and I can confidently say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Outside of school, I spend most of my free time contributing to open source software, and playing fiddle/violin in several local bands. I am looking forward to starting a summer internship (albeit remotely) at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on developing cloud computing solutions. After that, I intend to continue working in software, but I don’t know where I’ll end up. I’ll just have to see where life takes me.

 Rowan Biessel

 Geoscience:  Rowan Biessel

Hi! My name's Rowan and I’m a third-year Geoscience student interested in geophysics, remote sensing, and geodesy. The summer of my freshman year, I started working at the Alaska Satellite Facility and stumbled upon an unexpected passion: microwave remote sensing. Since then, I’ve been learning how to code and setting my sights on future work with the Geophysical Institute and Alaska Satellite Facility for an eventual Masters and PhD. I hope to someday incorporate microwave remote sensing and InSAR geodesy into an automated volcano monitoring framework for Alaska. This summer I’ll be interning at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) project. 

Outside of school and work, I love to spend my time outdoors, appreciating Alaska’s incredible beauty. In the summer, I’m an avid hiker and backpacker, and in the winter, a skier. When I’m not outside, I’ll be watching classic films, playing video games, playing my bass, or creating music in a garageband.

Evans Callis

Physics:  Evans Callis

A lifelong resident of Fairbanks, Evans Callis has had a passion for learning about the natural world from a very young age. This fascination with science carried through into high school and college, where he also discovered a passion for science outreach and education. As president of the UAF Society of Physics Students for the past two years, he has helped organize and conduct numerous public outreach events, including the community science night Astropalooza and CNSM’s Science Potpourri.

Outside of the educational world, Callis enjoys reading, hiking, cross-country running, hockey, and working on computers. Through his time at UAF, he has been inspired to use what he has learned and the connections he has made to strengthen Alaska’s student success and inspire younger students, especially those from rural Alaska, to pursue academic and professional excellence.

 Brittany Bowling

 Wildlife Biology:  Brittany Bowling

Brittany Bowling is an almost-graduate of the Wildlife Biology and Conservation program at UAF. When she’s not in class, she enjoys spending her time either working at the UA Museum in the mammals collection or acting in (and occasionally helping produce) various theatre performances. Working at the museum has also enabled her to work on her marmot hair research both in and outside of Alaska. After graduating she plans to take a year off before continuing on to graduate school to get a Master’s degree. Ultimately she plans to use that degree to work for a non-profit and do conservation work for endangered species. Ideally she wants to work with wild cats, though really any predator species would make her happy (not that she doesn’t love working with marmots)!

Richard Cleveland

BA in Elementary Education:  Richard Cleveland

Hello, my name is Richard Canaar Cleveland and I am from Quinhagak, Alaska.  I grew up in Quinhagak loving to hunt, fish, and enjoying the great outdoors.  My grandpa inspired me to love the outdoors, he taught me how to hunt and fish early on.  He not only inspired me to love the great outdoors, he also inspired me to become a teacher because he was a teacher himself.  His encouragement cannot be compared to anything and it keeps me yearning to learn more teaching.  I am excited to begin my journey as an elementary teacher.  My goal is to be a positive, fun, and a memorable role model for my future students.  

 Stefan Johnson

BA in Secondary Education:  Stefan Johnson

Hello, my name is Stefan Johnson. I was born and raised in Palmer, Alaska. Throughout my life I have developed a keen interest in history, which is why I decide to go to school to become a social studies teacher. During my free time I enjoy reading, hiking, and skiing, or any outdoor activity! While I attended UAF I enjoyed the various extra-curricular activities on campus. I worked as a club officer on a variety of clubs including the UAF Brzilian Jiujitsu Club and the Alaska Alpine Club. Having been raised in Alaska I am personally invested in our state. Having obtained my degree in both education and history I hope to help people grow and connect with their communities.

Victoria Wetterhall

Statistics:  Victoria Wetterhall

Victoria is a senior at UAF, with plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in Fall 2020. She was born and raised in North Pole, Alaska. Victoria is an accomplished musician as well as a mathematician. She’s been a valued member of the Fairbanks Youth Symphony, West Valley High School band, and UAF Wind Symphony. She’s had the prestigious opportunity to travel and perform throughout multiple countries in Europe, as well as Carnegie Hall in New York. Victoria’s original intent was to pursue a career in music. However, she decided to pursue mathematics instead after rediscovering her love of math while taking Functions for Calculus at UAF. Her passion is statistics, especially statistical modeling. She loves statistics because not only does she get to do math, she also gets the opportunity to learn about a variety of different fields while helping others solve their problems. She loves to be challenged and welcomes any opportunity to help others. Victoria plans to graduate and go on to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in statistics. She hopes to one day go on to a career in statistical consulting or data analytics.

 Grace Nelson

Natural Resources & Environment:  Grace Nelson

Grace Nelson grew up in Lititz, Pennsylvania where she developed a love for the outdoors at an early age.  Volunteering with the Lancaster County Youth Conservation piqued her interest in natural resource management particularly stream restoration.   After graduating as a homeschooled student, Grace moved to Alaska in 2016 to pursue a degree in NRM and a minor in digital journalism.  During her time at UAF, she competed on the Alaska Nanook Rifle team and worked as a media assistant for the athletic department.  During her senior year, she served as Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president.   After graduation, Grace intends to pursue a career in which she can promote conservation through education and outreach.

 
Departmental Awards:

Biology & Wildlife Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Assistants:

Stephanie DeRonde

Robert Williams 

Brina Kessel Medal for Excellence in Science

 Noah Khalsa

CNSM Outstanding Teaching Awards

Todd Brinkman

 Biology & Wildlife:  
Todd Brinkman

Tom Kuhn

Chemistry & Biochemistry:  
Tom Kuhn

Sean Regan

Geosciences:  
Sean Regan

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Mathematics & Statistics:  
Margaret Short

Hyunju Connor

Physics:  
Hyunju Connor

Lisa Lunn

Veterinary Medicine:  
Lisa Lunn


Faculty Promotion  

Diane Wagner

 Biology & Wildlife:  
Diane Wagner
Promoted to Professor

Daniel Mann

Geosciences:  
Daniel Mann
Promoted to Professor

 

 

Peter Fix

Natural Resources & 
Environment:

Peter Fix
Promoted to Professor

Valerie Gifford 

School of Education
Valerie Gifford
Promoted to Associate Professor

 

 

 

Emeritus  

Vladimir Romanovsky, Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus

Roger Ruess, Professor of Biology, Emeritus