URSA announces Spring 2024 Project Award recipients

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity (URSA) congratulates the following individuals and groups who received an URSA 2024 Spring Student Project Award.


Photo of Tony Blade outdoors near sea ice.

Tony Blade (Fisheries & Marine Sciences)
Mentor: Lara Horstmann
Project Title: Microplastic presence in Pacific walrus tissue
Pacific walruses are an important subsistence resource for Alaska Native communities. This project will process, filter, and examine walrus muscle and blubber samples for microplastics. Possible trends across age and sex groups will also be investigated, as well as comparisons to store bought meats.


Photo of Emilie Entrikin holding produce.

Emilie Entrikin (Interdisciplinary Studies)
Mentor: Jessica Glass
Project Title: Documenting the colonization of Chum salmon in arctic rivers using environmental DNA
The occurrence of salmon in the arctic rivers could be going from uncommon too common as habitats are changing and salmon continue to colonize further north. I will be analyzing the eDNA samples I gathered last summer to document the occurrence of Chum salmon in arctic rivers.


Photo of Marina Gonzalez Mazo.

Marina Gonzalez Mazo (Art)
Mentors: Miho Aoki and Patricia Carlson
Project Title: H&H: An Artistic Exploration of Sexuality and Devotion
A solo art exhibition for my graduation in the BFA program, where I explore how 3D printing and design can be applied to jewelry design and how digital art can be made into products. The art pieces will explore sexuality and the connection to devotion through their formal form and composition.


Photo of Yesim Goyette

Yesim Goyette (Geoscience)
Mentors: Sean Regan and Tamara Harms
Project Title: Geological Sources of Nitrogen to Waters of Interior Alaska
The high concentration of nitrate in Fairbanks drinking water cannot be explained by anthropogenic or environmental factors. I am examining the possibility of geologically sourced nitrogen through spatial correlation of nitrogen (N) concentrations and stable isotope values (𝛿15N) of rocks from stream catchments with nitrate concentration of those streams.



Photo of Maura Grahek backpacking outdoors.

Maura Grahek (Biological Sciences)
Mentor: Mario Muscarella
Project Title: Functional Gene Abundance Among Boreal Forest Sites
In this project, I will quantify functional gene abundances in soils. I will use a new approach called digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) to quantify genes involved in greenhouse gas production and mercury methylation. This technique will enhance the accuracy of our measurements and our understanding of microbial processes in soil.





Photo of Hunter Keller at night

Hunter Keller (Mining Engineering)
Mentor: Tathagata Ghosh
Project Title: Plowmate: The Drill Hole Saver
Plowmate is a novel solution in mitigating the loss of a drill pattern under snow. When a storm is imminent, Plowmate is installed into each hole. After the storm passes, the drill pattern is quickly plowed. Plowmate is then removed, leaving the integrity of each drill hole intact.




Image of Theodore Krauss with a small fish.

Theodore Krauss (Natural Resources and Environment)
Mentors: Christina Buffington and Cory Whiteley (Tanana Valley Watershed Association)
Project Title: Assessing Salmon Habitats on the Banks of the Chena River
UAF student and Tanana Valley Watershed Association plan to investigate different types of river banks including natural, bioengineered, and riprap banks in order to assess the extent to which they contribute to or detract from macroinvertebrate abundance and salmon habitation on the Chena River after river break up.

Photo of Isabelle Nicolier with a large fish.

Isabelle Nicolier (Biological Sciences)
Mentors: Jessica Glass and Sydney Almgren
Project Title: Population Structure and Genetic Diversity of Pacific Herring
The goal of this project is to determine the population structure and genetic diversity of Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) in Alaska's coastal waters. Specifically, I will compare samples of Bering Sea Pacific Herring with samples from the Gulf of Alaska. These samples will also be analyzed at different life stages.

Photo of UAF Aeronautics Club members Casey Lambries, Kathryn Finley, Micah VanderHart and Wyatt Richards.

UAF Aeronautics Club: Casey Lambries, Kathryn Finley, Micah VanderHart, Wyatt Richards (Mechanical Engineering)
Mentor: Michael Hatfield
Project Title: Design-Build-Fly
The Aeronautics club aspires to fully design and manufacture an unmanned aircraft per the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design-Build-Fly (DBF) competition. Our plane demonstrates immediate real-world application by simulating urban taxi applications.

Photo of Lindy Guernsey, Max Johnson, Audrey Eikenberry and Jessica Pennock.

Lindy Guernsey, Max Johnson, Audrey Eikenberry, Jessica Pennock (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Mentor: Richard Wies Jr.
Project Title: Electric Ferry/Car Battery Bank and Data Logger Prototype
Creation of a scaled-down prototype of a battery charging/discharging system for electric ferry/car applications to demonstrate the potential for reducing fossil fuel emissions in Southeast Alaska.



Photo of Dakota Peterson-Thompson, Margaret McCormick and Connor Sosebee

Dakota Peterson-Thompson, Margaret McCormick, Connor Sosebee (Mechanical Engineering)
Mentor: Rorik Peterson
Project Title: Static Flow
This Senior Design Project focuses on winterizing outdoor particulate matter collection technology from AirVitalize Innovations.


Photo of Derek Dayan, Janet Felix and Evan Wells with mentors Robert Herrick (far left) and Il-Sang Ahn (far right).

Derek Dayan, Janet Felix, Evan Wells (Mechanical Engineering)
Mentors: Il-Sang Ahn and Robert Herrick
Project Title: Venus Vibe Check
The project is to design, fabricate, and test a seismometer package that will be deployed on Venus by NASA.


URSA Student Project Awards are available for fall, spring, and summer terms. These awards support undergraduates (individual and group applicants) in all academic disciplines and located at all associated rural campuses to pursue research and creative activity projects at UAF. For more information on this semester’s student projects, visit the URSA Award Recipients webpage!

Contact the URSA office for more information on how to get involved: uaf-ursa@alaska.edu | 907-450-8772.