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Connecting Alaska's press to UA News

June 7, 2022

Research, workforce development and economic growth news stories and other feature articles from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Southeast and the UA Foundation. Compiled by the University of Alaska System Office of Public Affairs.

University of Alaska Fairbanks
From Alaska to Ukraine, gene-sequencing professor chases viruses

Devin Drown jumped into tracking variants of the COVID-19 virus after the pandemic arrived in Alaska in early 2020. With a doctorate in genomics and two decades of experience in the field, the UAF associate professor’s background fit the moment.

Drown, a specialist in genome sequencing, helped track omicron’s spread in Alaska, just as he’d done with other, earlier variants. He and others working in his lab in the West Ridge Research Building are part of a federally funded team that sequences and analyzes coronavirus samples provided by the Alaska State Virology Laboratory on the Fairbanks campus.

Logan Mullen
(Logan Mullen inserts a cartridge that contains chemical reagents that attach fluorescent chemicals to nucleotides in the genetic material, giving each type of nucleotide a specific color that can be detected and recorded by the sequencer. UAF photo by Leif Van Cise.)

UAF team lauded for innovative home design

Using shipping containers and energy-efficient techniques, a team of University of Alaska Fairbanks students has created a prize-winning new design for rural Alaska housing construction.

The four students in the Solar Design Challenge class offered through the UAF Bristol Bay Campus were among the top entries at an international competition sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in April. Later this summer, they hope to convince officials that their design could ease a housing shortage in Nome. Contact Jeff Richardson for more information. 


UAF co-hosts Arctic defense forum

Top military and University of Alaska officials gathered for the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable in Fairbanks on May 3-5, 2022.

Established in 2010 and co-chaired by U.S. European Command and the Norwegian Defence Staff, the 2022 ASFR was the first held in the United States.

U.S. Northern Command, one of six Department of Defense geographic combatant commands, hosted this year’s event. The University of Alaska Fairbanks and Eielson Air Force Base were selected as the hosting locations. The UAF Center for Arctic Security and Resilience managed local preparations for the event through U.S. Northern Command. Contact Andrea Miller for more information. 


University of Alaska Anchorage
UAA receives $4M grant to bolster health care workforce

UAA’s College of Health received a $4 million federal grant to support Alaska’s health care workforce by expanding key programs and making facility improvements. 

The grant enables UAA to graduate an additional 100 health care workers annually, reducing the state’s dependence on out-of-state recruitment and short-term travel workers. The expansion will allow for a Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) skills lab, a diagnostic medical sonography procedure room and increased space for surgical technologist training. Additionally, the grant will fund an interprofessional operative suite designed for medical students, physician assistants and advanced student nurse practitioners. 

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo tours UAA's health campus.

(With the recent award of a $4 million federal grant, UAA's College of Health will be making facility improvements, such as the diagnostic sonography procedure room, among others. Photo courtesy of Thompson & Co. Public Relations)

Students make decisions for the new Seawolf Investment Fund

Ten students in Alex Slivka’s Student Managed Portfolio course this spring had important work to do. They read from a diverse array of books on finance, forecasting and risk. They followed the ups and downs of industry sectors, analyzed securities and gave multiple presentations. Finally, as a group, they made decisions that have real-world impact. They are the first students to make recommendations for the new Seawolf Investment Fund, which was created in 2021 with a $1 million gift made by UAA alumnus Gary Klopfer and his wife, Jane Cuddy Klopfer.

Only students taking upper-level finance courses at the College of Business and Public Policy get this experience, and the coursework was challenging. “When we first looked at all the books we had to read and all the writing, it seemed overwhelming,” said Robert Pype. “But I’ve gotten the most out of this class than any I’ve taken at the university.” Contact Mariah Oxford for more information. 


Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference returns to in-person

The 2022 Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference returned to an in-person event this year and was held for the first time on the Kachemak Bay Campus May 14-17. Jericho Brown, 2020 Pulitzer Prize winning poet, winner of the American book award and a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award, was this year’s keynote speaker. Joining him were Marcus Burke, Victoria Chang, Christina Chiu, Marie Fuhrman, Toni Jensen, literary editor Tynan Kogane, Marie Mutsuki Mockett and literary agent Anjali Singh. These award-winning writers joined forces to deliver 12 craft classes, four craft conversations, as well as readings and individual meetings.

Contact Erin Hollowell for more information. 

University of Alaska FY23 budget focuses on students, affordable education and key economic and Arctic initiatives

During its first in-person meeting in more than two years, the University of Alaska Board of Regents adopted an FY23 spending plan that aligns with the university’s key goals, funds student scholarships, improves student-facing IT systems, supports key economic growth initiatives and Arctic research, invests in areas critical to Alaska’s economic development, increases capacity for high-demand workforce and career training, and addresses student demand for accessible, affordable, high-quality education.


Did you know that the University of Alaska system plays a critical role in alternative energy research that can set the standard for the rest of the country? 

Learn more about this incredible work here


For more information on the UA Newswire, contact UA Manager of Communications & Marketing Monique Musick at mmusick@alaska.edu