CNSM Celebrating Excellence Awards 2020-2021

Outstanding Students

Sage Robine

Biological Sciences:  Sage Robine

This year, I am graduating with a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology. For my four years at UAF, I was also a member of the Women’s Ski team training 15 hours per week and traveling across the western United-States for ski races. I have also done research with Dr. Kristin O’Brien, working on characterizing metabolic changes in threespine stickleback fish in response to temperature. I have also worked with Dr. Jason Burkhead at UAA over the summer of 2019 and I plan to return to his lab for more lab work this summer. I am excited to continue to pursue a career in research while also enjoying the outdoors through skiing, running, biking and rock climbing. A big thank you to my mentor, Kristin O’Brien, and all the people involved in UAF skiing which brought me to Alaska. Go Nooks!


 Lahra Weber

Chemistry:  Lahra Weber

I am a Chemistry student with concentration in Biochemistry and just graduated with my B.S.
from UAF. I am also planning to attend UAF in the fall for my M.S. in Chemistry. I highly enjoy
the field and am grateful for the great faculty at UAF that I get to learn from and do research

I am also on the UAF volleyball team as an Outside Hitter. I love playing the game and
getting to travel with my team for games, as well as doing community service within the
Fairbanks community with them.

My greatest motivation are my parents and their extremely dedicated work ethic. While
they have not gotten many chances in life, they showed me that hard work can still get you
very far. I am therefore grateful to have been given many opportunities

 Eleanore Mearns

Geography:  Eleanore Mearns

Originally from Northern Idaho, I sought out my degree in Alaska to have hands-on experience in a region that is heavily affected by climate change. For the past three years, I have seen how melting permafrost and declining sea ice affect communities and studied how it will continue to do so. After completing my degree in Geography, I hope to use my skills to further progress our scientific understanding of climate and weather, through modeling and forecasting. Through my education, I have developed a love for programming and cartography, which I hope to utilize daily. During my undergraduate career at UAF, I pursued outdoor-oriented hobbies such as rock climbing, hiking, and skiing. My love for the campus has allowed me to pursue positions as Student Ambassador, Orientation Leader, and Resident Hall VP. 

 Lida Zakurdaew

Mathematics:  Lida Zakurdaew

Hi, I’m Lida! And I am so flattered to have been named the Math Department’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student this year.
I usually describe myself as a big nerd who loves nothing better than spending dark and stormy nights on the 6th floor of the Rasmuson Library. However, when I don’t have proofs or papers to write, I also like to dabble in ballroom dance, aerial silks, rock climbing, and plenty more. Above all, I love spending time with people (pre-pandemic, obviously). This general love of people has inspired me to do my best to give back to the world. Mostly, this has meant volunteering my time at the Literacy Council when I’m in Fairbanks, or helping my friends with their math homework. Post-graduation I hope to start making a bigger impact. My plan is to enroll in law school to become a public defender. From what I’ve heard, it seems that my math education will really come in handy.

 David Harvey

 Geoscience: David Harvey

David is a proud gay, first-generation, and non-traditional geophysics student in the UAF Dept. of Geosciences. Since his childhood, when he would spend hours watching videos and reading books about volcanoes, David knew he wanted to become a volcanologist. He grew up in Oregon and spent his summers camping and hiking around the Cascades, developing a strong sense of curiosity for the natural world. David transferred to UAF from Peninsula College in 2019 after being awarded a generous scholarship from the Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) program. Support from the BLaST program allowed him to begin researching volcanoes as an undergraduate with UAF Professor and Alaska Volcano Observatory scientist Dr. Jessica Larsen. He will continue studying Alaskan volcanoes with Dr. Larsen at UAF in Fall 2021 while working toward a Master of Science. Beyond research and academics, David enjoys exploring the outdoors in Alaska, perfecting his fried chicken recipe, and binge-watching old seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race. He would like to thank his friends, chosen family, partner, professors, and mentors for all their invaluable support during the past four years.

Morgen Crow

Physics:  Morgen Crow

Hey, I'm Morgen Crow. I'm here studying math and physics, but I do plenty of other stuff, like rock climbing (indoors and outdoors), running, and skiing. Climbing's been a love of mine the past couple years, and running and cross-country skiing have been in my life since middle school. Besides that, I like to keep up with politics, listen to music (I'm talking the close-your-eyes kind of music listening), and watch movies and anime with my best friends. This summer, I'm doing physics research full-time, so wish me luck. Next year, I'll be graduating with a double major and looking ahead, future to be determined. If I had to be inspired, it would be by anyone with goodwill towards humanity: scientists, doctors, and civil rights advocates. Increasingly, I've come to appreciate the importance of community at every scale, and people advancing that are examples to us all.

 Alexandria Sletten

 Wildlife Biology & Conservation:  Alexandria Sletten

Hi, my name is Alex Sletten and I am graduating this semester with my undergraduate in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. I first moved to Alaska in 2014 while I was in the military. I immediately fell in love with the state’s landscape and wildlife and this changed my whole academic and career trajectory. I enjoy hiking, camping, kayaking, and fishing. Any chance that I can get to be outdoors and appreciate nature, I seize. I currently work as a College Intern I with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Arctic Marine Mammal Program here in Fairbanks. As a result, I have come to enjoy working with marine species and wish to continue this work. I hope to enroll in a master’s program at UAF in the coming semester with a project to explore the prevalence of micro-plastics found in digestive tracts of marine mammals.

Victoria Wetterhall

Statistics:  Victoria Wetterhall

Victoria is a senior at UAF, with plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in Fall 2021. 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 hopes to one day go on to a career in statistical consulting or data analytics.

 Will Samuel

Natural Resources & Environment:  Will Samuel

Will is a lifelong Alaskan who has a passion for the outdoors. His inspiration for this field of study developed when he worked as a guide, traveling through the Alaskan backcountry. He then moved to work for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game while finishing his degree. He split his time between the Natural Resource Management and Fisheries programs at UAF, concluding with a Senior Thesis research project. This research focused on evaluating the effects of a stream restoration in Cripple Creek near Fairbanks, Alaska. After graduating with his B.S. in May of 2021, Will plans to pursue a M.S. degree in Fisheries. He is currently the Vice President of the Midnight Sun Fly Casters, a local sport fishing and conservation group. He is also a volunteer Training Chief for the local Wilderness Search and Rescue Team.

Departmental Awards:

Biology & Wildlife Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Assistants:

Stephanie DeRonde

Robert Williams 

Brina Kessel Medal for Excellence in Science

David Harvey

Faculty Promotion  

Devin Drown

 Biology & Wildlife:  
Devin Drown
Promoted to Associate Professor

Hyunju "Kim" Connor

Hyunju "Kim" Connor
Promoted to Associate Professor

Molly Murphy

Veterinary Medicine 
Molly Murphy
Promoted to Associate Professor



Carmen Nicole Mölders, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Emeritus

Curt Szuberla, Associate Professor of Physics, Emeritus

Ranier Newberry, Professor of Geology, Emeritus

Thomas Kuhn, Professor of Biochemistry & Neuroscience, Emeritus