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.
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.