Kevin Huo came to UAF from California but, far from hibernating in the frozen North, he has used this place to launch himself around the world.
He went to Finland with a student group modeling the Arctic Council of circumpolar northern countries. He rode the Sikuliaq, UAF’s Arctic oceanographic ship, from Nome, Alaska, to Seattle. In February 2020, he headed for Heidelberg University in Germany.
The anthropology and political science junior said UAF has constantly placed interesting projects in his path.
“So many opportunities have come along, and I’ve just picked it up and gone with it,” he said.
Huo comes from Foster City, California, just south of San Francisco. His parents, both born in Taiwan, came to the U.S. to earn master’s degrees. His mother became a preschool teacher and his father an architect.
UAF attracted Huo in part because he was an avid bird-watcher, and he originally intended to study wildlife biology here. He admired two alumni who became internationally known naturalists, George Schaller and Margaret Murie.
“I wanted to escape California and this bubble of a world, and Alaska was perfect,” he said.
He flew to Fairbanks for the first time to start school in fall 2017.
Soon, Huo met some anthropology and political science professors and switched majors. He enjoys cultural anthropology the most.
“It’s such an open yet niche area of study, and very interdisciplinary,” he said. “I’m fascinated with the community-building aspect of anthropology.”
He and a friend even created a show on the student radio station, KSUA-FM, to focus on the topic. “We’re still trying to figure out what is anthropology,” he said.
While in Germany, Huo studied medical anthropology — a topic he said can cover anything from shamanism to Medicare.
It wasn’t his first foray into the field. At UAF, Huo and a partner conducted a two-year research project looking at health issues faced by students on campus. They did some data analysis, and the results confirmed what Huo called “common sense.”
“The more you work out and the more you stay active, the happier you’ll be,” he said.
That’s important advice for students in a place where winter temperatures can keep people inside. “A lot of students don’t realize that,” he said. “It was an unconscious awakening for students who participated in the survey.”
Huo himself, coming from California, also found Fairbanks reality a little shocking.
“I didn’t anticipate the darkness and the cold,” he said. “It was an adventure more than an academic experience.”