Elizabeth Parry

Elizabeth Parry

Biological Sciences
My Ph.D. is focused on developing a new tool to measure food security using a One Health lens, with a particular focus on Alaska Native populations.


How did you initially become interested in your specific field of study? 

I have an interdisciplinary educational background, with a B.S. in Zoology, and an MSc. in Environment & Development. Although I wasn’t familiar with One Health when I chose these degrees, once I became  aware of the concept, I realized that it perfectly represented my fascination for the intersections of humans, animals, and their shared environment, and really represented my educational background. I have also always had a passion for public health, particularly when it comes to health in Alaska. Based on these interests, it was my committee advisor that suggested I focus on food security, and I’m so glad she did! I think that the combination of One Health and food security is not only critical, but acutely relevant to life in Alaska.


What attracted you to pursue graduate studies at UAF? 

As a “nontraditional” student, in that I also work full-time outside of school and have a growing family, I was attracted to UAF not only for its reputation in research, but also for its student support, and its willingness to work with me without me having to sacrifice other important aspects of my life. I get to work with Dr. Andrea Bersamin as my committee chair at UAF, along with Dr. Micah Hahn (UAA), Dr. Todd Brinkman (UAF), and Dr. Douglas Causey (UAA/Harvard).


What motivates you? What do you think is important about your work?

I am motivated by research that has real-world applications, particularly when it comes to health. My research is very exciting to me because it addresses a critical health disparity that requires innovative solutions. It’s an interesting and important challenge to try and tackle!


What does receiving the Robert and Judy Belous Global Change Research Endowment mean to you? 

I am truly honored to be the recipient of the  Robert and Judy Belous Global Change Research Endowment. While the award greatly lessens the financial burden of graduate school, to me, the award has far more than a monetary value. Given that the mission of the award is to support research focused on the ways in which global environmental changes affect our world and our future, I see this award as also a recognition of the importance of research into One Health and food security in Alaska, particularly among Alaska Native populations that maintain subsistence lifestyles. Food insecurity is a critical health inequity in Alaska, and it is particularly complex due to the ramifications of climate change. While I am extraordinarily grateful that this award values my research in this realm, I also see it as a supportive and hopeful step towards more research to address health inequities impacted by climate change throughout the state.  


Have you faced any challenges in your pursuit of graduate studies? 

My biggest challenge is definitely balancing school with work and family. It’s a constant challenge, but it has been made so much easier with the encouragement and support I have received from my committee and UAF. The support and flexibility are what allow me to manage the workload and multitasking, along with learning how to set both realistic goals and boundaries for myself.


What are the next steps in your career? 

I am aiming to complete my degree by 2025 (fingers crossed!). After that, I hope to remain in research, and would love to focus on Arctic health research.


What advice would you give to incoming or current graduate students?

Don’t be afraid to embrace the challenges, even if they seem intimidating or scary. Embracing these challenges is how we grow, and often the best way to find new opportunities. At the same time, don’t forget to listen to yourself, and set boundaries where you need to. This is your degree, and it's important to shape it in a way that is manageable and meaningful to you. It’s easy to get lost in the stress of deadlines and forget why you chose to pursue a graduate degree in the first place.