Faculty profiles

Leif Albertson


Extension Home, Health and Family Development Faculty
Email: lealbertson@alaska.edu

Main interests include public health, environmental health, gardening, nutrition and residential energy issues with particularly interest in residential indoor air quality in rural Alaska homes.


Mara Bacsujlaky


4-H and Youth Development Agent
Email: mcbacsujlaky@alaska.edu

Mara Bacsujlaky has over ten years experience in community and positive youth development in remote rural and urban Alaska. She is the PI for the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region and co-PI for Charting Success in Rural Alaska, a component of the National 4-H Council’s National Mentoring Program, as well as co-PI for a five-year Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) grant that provides life-skills programming to foster and incarcerated youth in Fairbanks. She is also a principle grant writer for Extension youth development programming. Extracurricular interests include learning Hungarian, ski-joring, hiking and running.


Steve Brown


Extension Agriculture/Horticulture Agent
Email: scbrown4@alaska.edu

Steve Brown is the District Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension Service Agent for the Mat-Su/Copper River Districts of Alaska. His subject matter specialties are the twin geospatial technologies of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as they relate to agriculture and the environment. In his spare time he is an avid mountaineer and marathon runner.


Kendra Calhoun


4-H and Youth Development Agent
Email: klcalhoun@alaska.edu

More information coming soon


Julie Cascio


Extension Home, Health and Family Development Agent
Email: jmcascio@alaska.edu

Julie is the Home Economist in the Mat-Su/Copper River Valley District. Health, Strong Women Program/ Home and Family Development. In her work with the Cooperative Extension Service, Julie supports indivuals and the family in safe food preservation methods, local food use, healthy food choices, food safety, healthy indoor air quality, reducing home energy use, increasing financial independence, and more. Julie works with the StrongWomen strength-training groups, Master Food Preservers, and Familly and Community Education and supports the volunteer leaders. Julie offers trainings in Chronic Disease Self Management, Certified Food Presrevation and AlaskaHost.


Candi Dierenfield


4-H and Youth Development Agent
Email: cldierenfield@alaska.edu

4-H Military Liaison for Alaska and Pacific Air Force. Co-PI on the CYFAR grant, working with teens in state custody in Interior Alaska. Current focus: work force development, STEM, and financial literacy.

Research Interests: Currently working on dissertation for PhD in Education/eLearning (focus on developmental and social impacts of a maternal deployment on military teens.)


Greg Finstad


Research Associate Professor of Range Ecology,
Program Manager, Reindeer Research Program
Email:  glfinstad@alaska.edu

Research Interests:

  • range ecology
  • range management
  • plant-animal interactions
  • climate-vegetation dynamics
  • reindeer husbandry and management

Current Research Programs:

  • range management & nutrition
  • forage selection
  • ration development
  • educational outreach & service
  • reindeer production
  • pasture evaluation

More information about Greg Finstad...


Peter Fix


Associate Professor of Outdoor Recreation Management
Natural Resources Management Department Chair

Email:  pjfix@alaska.edu

Research interests

  • human dimensions of natural resource management
  • motivations for recreation participation
  • recreation planning frameworks
  • recreation research methods
  • natural resource based tourism
  • recreation economics
  • nonmarket valuation

Current research programs

  • Alaska resident statistics program
  • visitor preferences for interpretation at Wrangell - St. Elias National park
  • wildlife viewing management in Alaska

More information about Peter Fix...


Gino Graziano

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Invasive Plants Instructor
Email: gagraziano@alaska.edu

I am an Invasive Plants Instructor with an interest in ecology and management of non-native species. Education is a primary role for all ages. I focus on engaging youth in science through active participation in projects such as exploring how chokecherry influence moose winter forage behavior and forest succession, and exploring the distribution and ecology of earthworms in Alaska. Adults outreach includes working with homeowners/property managers, and managers of public lands to develop integrated pest management strategies. I provide online and face to face continuing education opportunities for educators, certified pesticide applicators of Alaska, and others interested in the ecology and management of noxious and invasive weeds.


Joshua Greenberg


Associate Professor of Resource Economics
Email:  jagreenberg@alaska.edu

Research interests

  • bioeconomic modeling
  • economic issues pertaining to the allocation of Alaska renewable natural resources
  • economics of Alaska's reindeer industry

More information about Joshua Greenberg...


Derylee Hecimovich

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Extension 4-H and Youth Development Agent
Email: dahecimovich@alaska.edu

4-H and Youth Development Agent. Background/expertise in natural resource management, environmental education, wildlife & livestock management, animal science, emergency preparedness. Interests also include horses, dogs, horticulture, outdoor recreation, nutrition and art.


Phillip Kaspari

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Extension Agriculture Agent
Email: pnkaspari@alaska.edu

Phil has been the Agriculture Agent with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service in Delta Junction for 17 years. He leads UAF Cooperative Extension Service’s pesticide safety program and estimates to have trained 200 pesticide applicators. Phil has been a committee member of Delta’s Noxious Weed Program since it’s beginning in 1995 and has been involved with the Alaska Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plant Management (CNIPM). He serves on the Salcha-Delta Soil and Water Conservation District and is an active member of the Delta Farm Bureau. Phil came to Alaska 32 years ago when he answered an ad for farm help with the Delta agricultural project. He and his wife Mary have 300 acres of hay, raise yaks for food and fiber, and plant a summer garden


Meriam Karlsson


Professor of Horticulture
Email:  mgkarlsson@alaska.edu

Research interests:

  • Greenhouse-, high tunnel- and controlled environment crop production
  • Plant growth in response to light intensity, quality, day length and the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
  • Energy efficient production techniques in greenhouse- and season extension environments
  • Crop growth, development and productivity under large high latitude seasonal variations in temperatures, light levels and day lengths
  • Development of guidelines to optimize vegetable, small fruit and floral crop production
  •  Environmental plant physiology as it applies to commercial horticulture at high latitudes

Current research programs:

  • Alaska high tunnel, greenhouse and controlled environment production  (USDA-Hatch, 2013-2017) 
  • Controlled environment horticulture for Alaska  (USDA-Hatch, 2007-2013)
  • Develop and integrate components for commercial greenhouses (NE-1035 multi-state project, 08-13)
  • Controlled environment use and technology  (NCERA-101 multi-state project, 2011-2016)
  • Resource management in commercial greenhouses  (NE-1335 multi-state project, 2013-2018)

More information about Meriam Karlsson...


Sarah Lewis


Extension Home, Health and Family Development Agent
Email: sarah.lewis@alaska.edu

Sarah Lewis is a life-long Alaskan and Juneauite. With a professional background in architecture and social work, Sarah enjoys working with diverse people to address a variety of family and community challenges. In her work with the Extension Service, Sarah has focused on family and community resilience topics such as increasing local food use, reducing home energy use, increasing financial independence, and educating families and youth about healthy food choices and safe food preservation methods.


Marla Lowder


4-H and Youth Development Agent
Email: mklowder@alaska.edu

Marla was raised on dairy/potatoe farm in south eastern Idaho. She enjoys working with youth and adults through informal education. She runs two camps each summer and helps volunteers to organize many more events for the Tanana District. She oversees the state Horse and state Youth In Governance programs. Her interests include working with youth, equine, government, and camping.


Bret Luick

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Food and Nutrition Specialist
Email: bluick@alaska.edu

Dr. Bret Luick is an Associate Professor of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His research interests include social and environmental determinants of food security and diet quality, with particular emphasis on local economic pressures. His currently funded research programs include developing the use of locally harvested fish in schools, and use of a social marketing for the prevention of childhood obesity. He has served on Journal of Nutrition Education's board of editors.


Lisa Lunn

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Extension Vetrinarian
Email: llunn2@alaska.edu

Lisa Lunn is a veterinarian, specializing in large animal internal medicine, with an emphasis on Food Animal health and welfare. Promoting the One Health initiative, as it relates to ruminant disease and public health, is important to Dr. Lunn and she uses this approach with her classroom teaching of veterinary students. As the first Veterinary Extension Specialist in Alaska, she is focused on mapping out diseases in the State and developing educational programs focuses on promotion of livestock health and productivity, food safety, and improving food sustainability in Alaska. 


Casey Matney

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Agriculture & Horticulture Agent
Email: camatney@alaska.edu

Casey is the agriculture and horticulture Extension agent for the Kenai Peninsula. He will provide recommendations for soil amendments and fertilizers, pest and weed management. He is interested in conducting research to better understand the effect of climate on plant growth and survival. He has worked as a rangeland management Extension specialist for Colorado State University for five years, consulting with private, state and federal land managers about managing rangelands for livestock and wildlife. He also taught rangeland courses and served as co-chair for the CSU Drought Team.


Jenifer McBeath


Professor of Plant Pathology/Biotechnology
Email:  jhmcbeath@alaska.edu

Research interests:

  • plant pathogen-mycoparasite interactions and biological disease controls using Trichoderma astroviride on disease-causing fungi
  • enhancing plant disease resistance
  • work on potato diseases

More information about Jenifer McBeath...


Art Nash


Extension Energy Specialist
Email: alnashjr@alaska.edu

Art provides curricula development, instruction and technical assistance for other Extension agents and the general public. Art manages Alaska’s radon program, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. It involves social media outreach, workshops, data collection and technical assistance. He also has been a principal investigator on Healthy Homes and emergency disaster grants. Art creates and teaches public workshops in wood gasification, home energy efficiency, northern climate aging in place modification, remote off-grid energy options, greenhouse heating and community alternative energy development. Art also presents at national and international conferences on unique energy solutions in rural areas of Alaska. These involve direct collaboration with tribal, state, federal and nonprofit agencies and university-affiliated experts.


Heidi Rader


Tribal Extension Educator, Master Gardener Coordinator
Email: hbrader@alaska.edu

Heidi Rader is a life-long Alaskan. As part of a Master’s Degree with the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences (now SNRE), she studied high tunnel vegetable production. She has served as the Tribes Extension Educator for the Tanana Chiefs Conference region since 2007. In addition to teaching hands-on workshops in roughly 30 remote villages in Interior Alaska, she also teaches Online courses with a statewide reach. Heidi uses lots of ways to get research-based information out to the public: social media, websites, a blog, Extension publications, You Tube, and news columns. She is currently developing a mobile app that will facilitate the collection and dissemination of crop growing data from gardeners across the state.


Julie Riley


Extension Horticulture Agent
Email: jariley@alaska.edu

More information coming soon


Leslie Shallcross

Leslie Shallcross

Extension Home, Health and Family Development Agent
Email: lashallcross@alaska.edu

More information coming soon


Milan Shipka


Director of Research and AFES

Email:  mpshipka@alaska.edu

Research interests:

  • reproductive physiology and behavior of traditional and alternative ruminant species in the Alaska livestock industry, such as reindeer, muskoxen, and cattle

Current research programs:

  • reproductive biology of reindeer and musk ox and management of reproduction in theses species in farmed settings

More information about Milan Shipka...


Kay Shoemaker Howell

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Science and Natural Resources 4-H and Youth Development Agent
Email: kwshoemaker@alaska.edu

Kay serves statewide as the lead for the Salmon Watersheds Environmental Education Program, the Schools on Trails Initiative, and as the co-chair for the Get Outdoors Alaska Coalition. As a member of the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educator's Assn., she writes curriculum for non-formal educators and teachers and does outreach education to remote rural villages across Alaska. Through 4-H Youth Development programs, Kay teaches environmental science and literacy applying Reflective Storytelling as a model for place-based and culturally relevant experiential education.


Darren Snyder

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Extension Agriculture and Horticulture/4-H and Youth Development Agent
Email: dgsnyder@alaska.edu

Darren Snyder serves Southeast Alaska as the Agriculture and Horticulture Agent (50%) and 4-H Positive Youth Development Agent (50%). As the Ag/Hort Agent, he supports and teaches consumer gardening education programs such as Master Gardener and basic gardening and develops and supports projects including school and community gardens. He also supports commercial ag/hort producers of alaskan vegetables, poultry, peonies and professional landscapers. Through 4-H, Darren directs the AK Experience: Alaska Outdoor Skills and Adventure residential camp for teens and multiple 4-H Clubs and activities throughout the region including topics such as cross country skiiing, luge sledding, shooting sports, outdoor skills, hunters education, gardening and emergency preparedness.


Elena B. Sparrow

E. Sparrow

Research Professor/Education Outreach Director
Email:  ebsparrow@alaska.edu

Research interests

  • nutrient cycling
  • microbial ecology
  • climate change effects
  • science education

More information about Elena B. Sparrow...


Linda Tannehill

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Extension Home, Health and Family Development Agent
Email: lktannehill@alaska.edu

Linda serves the Kenai Peninsula District in the areas of food safety, food preservation, health, physical activity, disaster education, financial literacy, and 4-H Youth Development. Currently she is a StrongWomen Ambassador for Tufts University, Chair of the Central Peninsula Change Club, and Alaska Point of Contact for the Extension Disaster Education Network.


Sarah Trainor

Sarah Trainor

Assistant Professor of Social-Ecological Systems Sustainability

O'Neill 370


Email: sarah.trainor@alaska.edu

Research Interests:

  • climate change adaptations
  • climate change vulnerability assessments
  • communicating science for decision makers

More information about Sarah Trainor...


Susan Todd


Associate Professor of Resource Planning
Email:  sktodd@alaska.edu

Research interests

  • conflict resolution
  • environmental mediation
  • resource management planning and public involvement

Current research programs

  • innovative methods of involving the public in environmental decisions
  • the alagnak wild river management study

More information about Susan Todd...


David Valentine


Director of Academic Programs
Email: dvalentine@alaska.edu

Research Interests

Dr. Valentine's broad research interest is in ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, and element cycling in northern ecosystems. His past research focused on the role of soils in forests, grasslands, and wetlands in generating or consuming trace gasses, especially carbon dioxide and methane, that influence Earth's climate. His recent research has focused on the effects of wildfire and moisture stress on soil respiration and carbon balance. He teaches courses in soils, nutrient cycling, sustainability, environmental ethics, and environmental decision making based on integrating the major foundations of natural resource management: natural sciences, economics, human values and behaviors, ethics, and policy.

Current Research Programs

1) Bonanza Creek LTER:  effects of moisture stress on soil respiration and C balance

2) Bonanza Creek LTER:  longitudinal evaluation of soil properties along two successional chronosequences

3) Bonanza Creek LTER:  mapping soil properties of the university forest as part of a periodic forest inventory

More information about David Valentine...


David Verbyla


Professor of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Natural Resources
Email: dlverbyla@alaska.edu

Research Interests
GIS technology for resource inventory and climate change studies, integrating remote sensing and GIS for regional analysis, support for spatial analysis using GIS

Current Research Programs
Alaska land cover change, MODIS products evaluation, bonanaza creek long term ecological research (LTER)

More information about David Verbyla


Mingchu Zhang


Associate Professor of Agronomy/Soil Sciences
Email:  mzhang3@alaska.edu

Research interests:

  • nutrient management
  • soil carbon dynamics
  • forage and field crop production in subarctic area
  • waste management and composting

Current research programs:

  • soil carbon
  • forage quality and production with different management practices
  • selection of cereals cultivars suitable for sub arctic cultivation
  • compost and use of fish waste product for organic farming

More information about Mingchu Zhang...

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