BLaST celebrates Scientist of the Month

Julie Anne Brown poses for a photo
Photos courtesy of Julie-Anne Brown
BLaST Scholar Julie-Anne Brown, Fairbanks, Alaska

Since 2016, the Biomedical Learning and Student Training program at UAF has highlighted scientists from all biomedical fields through its Scientist of the Month articles. BLaST Scholar and UAF biology undergraduate student Julie-Anne Brown was selected as the October 2023 BLaST Scientist of the Month. To read more about BLaST's monthly Scientist of the Month series, visit to their website.

Julie-Anne Brown, a fourth-year BLaST Scholar, is from Roseville, California. She grew up in the military and has lived in Hawaii, Florida and Alaska. She is applying to Ph.D. programs in cell and molecular biology with a concentration in animal genetics. Brown is a senior and will graduate with her bachelor’s in science degree in biology with a concentration in physiology in May 2024. She is also a third-year UAF Honors student and Climate scholar. Brown said she enjoys reading, going on trips with her family and hanging out with her cat Calypso while watching TV.

Brown joined Kelly Drew's rat laboratory project in her freshman year and contributed to their proposal process for a successful NIH grant. Brown analyzed videos of rats’ post-surgical procedures to catalog abnormal behavior, and now is creating graphs to look for correlation between cage temperature, body temperature, and the activity noticed. She also socialized the rats to make them more tolerable to human interaction, leading to a decrease in overall stress.

Julie Anne Brown at computer
J. Brown, Sept. 2023
Brown working on graphing at her desk at UAF.

Brown recently joined a research team at the International Arctic Research Center and University of Alaska Museum of the North, working under fisheries graduate student Maggie Harings, and Erik Schoen and Andrés López. Brown helps with sample preparation, DNA extraction, PCR, and gel electrophoresis on environ-mental DNA filters. The goal of this project is to identify the abundance of salmon DNA in the water to enhance the local capacity for sustainable fish population management in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region. By developing this approach, the project aims to help tribal and agency scientists monitor and hopefully reverse the adverse impacts of declining salmon runs on subsistence communities.

Brown shares, “I want to thank Hoshi Sugiura (lab technician) and Dr. Kelly Drew for helping me navigate the world of research as well as teaching me the importance of patience in the research world. It was a slow start and at times has been difficult to make hours, but they always helped me even when I had questions which had quite simple answers. I want to thank Maggie for helping me by taking time out of her graduate studies to teach me important lab skills to further me in the research world. I want to thank my BLaST Research Advising, and Mentoring Professionals, Hannah Robinson and Sarah Barcalow, for helping me navigate not only research, but life in general. All of you have also had a part in my studies, whether it was proctoring an exam, helping me answer a question, or just being there when I needed someone. Thank you so much.”

Data graphic showing time vs temperature
J. Brown, Sept. 2023
Data graph by Brown and fellow undergraduate lab member Ethan Hack, Fairbanks, Alaska.

Maggie Harings shared, "Julie-Anne has proven to be a diligent researcher in the lab and I have no doubt that her inquisitive nature will continue leading her down a path of success!“ Andrés López, Brown’s new faculty mentor for fall 2023, shared, “I am excited to have Julie-Anne work with our eDNA team and look forward to her contributions over the coming months!”

Any questions about this or any BLaST Scientist of the Month article series, please contact Amy Topkok at or 907-474-2403.