2024 Events

2024 Free Events at UAF 
Really Free Market 2024

Jo Heckman Portrait

Honoring Distinguished Alumni

An Evening with JO HECKMAN 
Monday, June 3, 2024 at 7pm
BP Design Theater (401 Usibelli Engineering Building)
Lecture will be livestreamed.  Reception to follow. 

Jyotsna “Jo” Heckman grew up in India and moved to Fairbanks in 1975. She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Jo was a founding member of Denali State Bank and retired as president and chief executive officer in December 2011 after 26 years of service with the bank. Jo was appointed to the University of Alaska Board of Regents by Governor Sean Parnell and served from 2011-2019. She is the recipient of the UAF Alumni Association’s William Cashen Service Award, the UAF Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Farthest North Girl Scouts Council’s Woman of Distinction Award, and in 2008, was selected as Business Leader of the Year by the UAF Associated Students of Business. In 2018, the Midnight Sun Boy Scout Council honored Jo and her husband, Steve, as distinguished citizens. Currently, Jo is working on exploring the agriculture industry in interior Alaska. She teaches culinary classes through the Summer Fine Arts Festival and, UAF Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning. She writes agriculture and food security articles for her website, jostablealaska.com, and has a podcast called “Jo’s Table Alaska,” showcasing food growers and producers in interior Alaska.

TT logo

Mondays at 7PM. These events will take place at the BP Design Theater, located in JUB 401 in the JUB building on UAF Campus, located at 1764 Tanana Loop. The Fairbanks Tall Timber Lecture Series  is made possible by a generous contribution from Explore Fairbanks.

All presentations are in-person, webcasted and recorded to be posted to here within two weeks of the live event.

The Fairbanks Tall Timber Series was created to honor those who have served the Fairbanks community well.  Join veteran newsman Robert Hannon either in person or via Zoom as he interviews these stalwart members of our community.  

Jack Wilbur6/10
Jack Wilbur
Jack Wilbur is a fourth-generation Fairbanks resident. Born and raised in Fairbanks, Jack attended Lathrop High School and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He earned a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Jack began his career with Design Alaska in 1975 as a Mechanical Engineering Assistant. He became the Lead Mechanical Engineer in 1980 and was President of the firm from 1995 to 2014. He is currently Design Alaska’s Chief Financial Officer. Jack is proud of his pioneer heritage. He believes that there is no better place to live and raise a family than Fairbanks and that community service is an obligation to the communities in which we live. Jack serves the community as Board President for Fairbanks Ski Coalition (the non-profit corporation that operates Ski Land) and as a member of the Fairbanks Gas Utility and Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra Boards of Directors. Jack and his wife, Carol, were honored by the Boy Scouts of America – Midnight Sun Council as the Distinguished Citizens of 2024.


Samantha Kirstein6/17
Samantha Kirstein
Samantha Kirstein arrived in Fairbanks just before President Eisenhower signed into law the official proclamation admitting Alaska as the 49th State on July 7, 1958. She attended Main Jr. High School, Lathrop High School, and UAF. Sam spent her next 20 years in Alaska’s bush and rural Alaska villages. The family business was wilderness lodges for hunting and adventure guiding. She raised and homeschooled four children. When Sam returned to Fairbanks, she was hired as the Executive Director of the Fairbanks Food Bank, a role she served for 25 years. Sam wasn’t ready for retirement, so she has continued her passion and commitment to the Food Bank and is currently the Community Development Director. Under her guidance and direction, the Food Bank went from collecting 300,000 pounds of surplus food to currently collecting and distributing four million pounds of local surplus food. In 2007, Sam was named a Woman of Distinction by the Farthest North Girl Scout Council. For Sam, every day is a blessing. “In our town, neighbors really do help neighbors.”


John Manthei6/24
John Manthei
John Manthei’s preferred habitat is in the woods or on the water, while his preferred activity is making things, and he has been doing just that for over 70 years. There was a brief interlude during his college days and a couple of years after when he dabbled in botany, and even that couldn’t keep John out of the woods. His need to make things led him to a career in cabinet and furniture making and construction. He also became a dog musher, lived in the bush, and built dog sleds. Along the way, John enjoyed helping others make things, so teaching became another passion. John was one of the founding members of The Folk School of Fairbanks, which offers a variety of programs and classes. He loves to share his knowledge of making things from materials that he has harvested from the woods and show others how to join in the fun.

Greg Hill7/8
Greg Hill
Greg Hill wasn’t looking for a job in June 1990 but applied to run the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s public libraries at the urging of his mom, who was volunteering for the Alaska State Parks and learned of the opening in Fairbanks. By the end of August, he and his family arrived from Texas (and have been glad they escaped ever since). Greg met his wife in college, went to graduate school in Comparative International Relations, and worked at the U.S. State Dept. and at the Texas Legislature, where he was befriended by the director of the Legislative Reference Library and encouraged to obtain a master’s in library science degree at the University of Texas. There, he learned about the noble principles of public libraries and found his true professional passion. After directing two Texas libraries, Greg ran the FNSB libraries for 23 years. In retirement, he has continued the award-winning Guys Read Gals Read program he created in 2006 to encourage pleasure reading among 4th-grade students, the age at which most American students stop reading for fun. He was president of the Alaska Library Association twice but had more fun singing professionally in Austin with an acapella doo-wop group for 40 years (and counting).


Jennifer Jolis7/15
Jennifer Jolis
Jennifer Jolis moved to Chalkyitsik, Alaska, in 1966 as a VISTA Volunteer. That experience changed her life and continues to influence her today. After moving to Fairbanks, Jennifer has been a clerk at Safeway (in the building that is now the downtown Post Office), a social worker, a restaurant owner (twice), camp cook in the Aleutians, book store manager, meeting and convention director for the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, instructor of culinary arts and finally retired in 2017 as the Executive Director of the nonprofit Bread Line, Inc. Jennifer’s motivation has always been about people and connecting people with people. Jennifer was one of the founders of the Fairbanks Child Protection Task Force; she was instrumental in welcoming the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention to Fairbanks; she owned and operated two restaurants that filled her with proud moments and lifelong friends. In 2016, Jennifer was named a Woman of Distinction by the Farthest North Girl Scout Council. Currently, Jennnifer is closely involved in creating the Fairbanks HopeLink’s Warming Shelter. Jennifer states, “The people of Fairbanks and Alaska have made this my home and allowed me to follow many different paths. To make differences large and small. From my first morning in Fairbanks, looking out my window in Skarland Hall (UAF), across the valley to the mountains, I knew I’d found home.”

Susan Henrichs7/22
Susan Henrichs
Susan Henrichs was born and raised in Anchorage. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. from the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. In 1982, Susan returned to Alaska as an Assistant Professor of Chemical Oceanography with the Institute of Marine Science, now part of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. After over twenty years as a faculty member, she became the Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost in 2003. She was appointed Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in 2007. Susan retired in 2018 with the title of Provost Emeritus. Both as a volunteer and occasional part-time employee, Susan has continued to work on behalf of the University, with activities ranging from tending pansies in the flowerbeds near Gruening to analyzing UAF revenues and expenditures. She received a UAF Meritorious Service Award in 2022.


Roger Brunner7/29
Roger Brunner
Roger Brunner grew up moving with his family from site to site as Nuclear Power came online in the 1950s and 1960s. He graduated from Michigan State with a BS in Computer Science with a minor in Math and then hitchhiked around Europe. He traveled the US working as a DJ and doing day labor. After working in a bottle factory, he decided to go to Notre Dame Law School, chosen because it had the most overseas programs. That worked out when he met Niesje Steinkruger in Tokyo. They married, came north in 1975, and worked for Julian Rice and Lloyd Hoppner. After a decade with the firm, Roger had his own law practice for 19 years and then served as Vice-President and General Counsel for the University. He has been active in Fairbanks Rotary and the Rotary Youth Exchange. While President of his club, he set up the “Books for Babies” program. Roger has judged Science Fairs, participated in “Guys Read,” and coached students for the math competition “Mathcounts.” Roger loves being on the floor with his grandkids, whom he taught to call him “Cool Guy.” He worked on the “Lost Alaskans” project and has spent a decade copying and digitizing early Alaska State court case recordings from the 1960s.

Wendy Dominique8/5
Wendy Dominique
Wendy Dominique was born in Annapolis, MD., to the best single Mom. She came to Alaska in 1989 after a tour in Germany with her active-duty military husband. They have three boys, Reggie, Rashad, and Rolando. Wendy worked for the federal government in several positions for over 32 years. In 2003, Wendy ran for a position on the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board. She never imagined that she would continue to serve on the School Board for 17 years (she was the longest-running school board member in the history of the FNSBSD), including two years as president. As a School Board member, Wendy worked tirelessly to ensure every student was treated equitably; she was involved in hiring five superintendents and enjoyed just about all aspects of working for the community in a position that gave positive responses most of the time. She created avenues for parents to register their complaints and ensure they were reviewed and listened to. In 2018, Wendy was named a Woman of Distinction by the Farthest North Girl Scout Council. Wendy works part-time at UAF and continues working with the FNSBSD School District. She is working on finishing her bachelor’s degree, showing that it is never too late to continue one’s education and that learning is a lifelong endeavor.


George Rydlinski8/12
 George Rydlinski
George Rydlinski grew up in Chicagoland’s Wonder Years of the 60s and 70s. He was drawn to music by his local high school band. He pursued a Bachelor of Music in bassoon performance from Northern Illinois University. After freelancing in and around Chicago, George joined the Army in 1983. He served as bassoonist with the 76th Army Band in Kaiserslautern, West Germany, and several US Army Bands in various locations. George retired in 2004 from active duty and the 9th Army Band at Fort Wainwright. He immediately went to work with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra office as the marketing manager, a position he held until his second retirement in 2022. George has been an adjunct faculty member at UAF and was the music director of the Fairbanks Youth Symphony from 2006-2017. He joined the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra in 1996 as principal bassoonist. George has been active with Fairbanks Light Opera Theater (FLOT) as a pit musician and was the musical director for many FLOT performances. George is officially retired but still semi-active, performing with his bassoon and baton. He resides with his wife of over 40 years in North Pole.


Explore Fairbanks

Healthy Living Logo

Tuesdays at 7PM. These events will take place at the BP Design Theater, located in JUB 401 in the JUB building on UAF Campus, located at 1764 Tanana Loop.

All lectures are in-person, webcasted and recorded to be posted to here within two weeks of the live event.

Romel Wrenn6/4
AI and Predictive Cardiac Maintenance
Romel Wrenn, MD, Cardiologist




Mark Ombrellaro

Advances in Vascular Surgery: Forget About the Pump. It’s All About the Pipes 
Mark Ombrellaro, MD, 
Vascular Surgeon



Dawn Brefczynski, Mary Knight, Nellie Toy6/18
Spotting a Stroke: BEFAST
Dawn Brefczynski, RN, Mary Knight, RN and Nellie Toy, RN



Andrew Cox6/25
Gut Health: Preventing and Managing Digestive Disorders
Scott Luper, ND, Naturopathic Physician




Russ Pierce7/9
Transformative Care & Weight Wellness: the Role of Medications
Russ Pierce, DO, Family Medicine Physician


Peter Dillon7/16
Changing Attitudes:  Use of Alcohol and Healthy Living
Peter Dillon, MD, Family Medicine Physician




Ruth Carson7/23
Movement Magic:  Aging Joints and What We Can Do
Ruth Carson, PT, Physical Therapist



Stewart Kerr7/30
Arthritis Surgery Victory: Guidelines for the Win
Stewart Kerr, MD, Orthopedist




Beth Grey8/6
Fairbanks as We Age: Pieces of the Livability Pie
Beth Grey, Project Manager, Aging and Disability Resource Center, Fairbanks Senior Center



Tony Bonitabus8/13
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: An Alaskan Version
Mishelle Nace, MD, Pediatric Hospitalist


Healthy Living Lectures are made possible by the generous contribution from Foundation Health Partners.

Foundation Health Logo

Discover Alaska Logo

Wednesdays at 7PM. Discover Alaska is offered in cooperation with the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology. These events will take place at the BP Design Theater, located in JUB 401 in the JUB building on UAF Campus, located at 1764 Tanana Loop.

All lectures are in-person, webcasted and recorded to be posted to here within two weeks of the live event.

Brian Barnes Portrait6/5
Overwintering in the Arctic: Animal Strategies for Surviving the Long, Cold, and Dark
Brian Barnes, Professor of Zoophysiology




Todd Brinkman portrait6/12
Changing Interactions Among Alaska’s Wildlife, People, and Environment
Todd J. Brinkman, Assoc. Professor of Wildlife Ecology




Christa Mulder Portrait6/19
Berries in a Changing Climate: Threats and Opportunities
Christa Mulder, Professor of Ecology




Mary Beth Leigh6/26
Cleaning Up Contaminants with Native Plants and Microbes
Mary Beth Leigh, Professor of Microbiology


Andrea Bersamin7/10
Food, Nutrition, and Health in Alaska
Andrea Bersamin,
of Nutrition

Eugenie EuskirchenMahmooda Sultana7/17
Measuring Methane from Alaska to Mars
Eugénie Euskirchen, Associate Professor, and Dr. Mahmooda Sultana, Instrument Scientist, Planetary Environments Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Knut Kielland

Herbivores and the Structure and Function of Alaska’s Boreal Forests 
Knut Kielland, Professor of Ecology

Kelly Drew7/31  
Hibernation for Space Torpor and Remote Emergency Medicine
Kelly L. Drew, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Greg Breed8/7
Longevity and Senescence: Are Maximum Lifespans of Whales Longer Than We Believe?
Greg Breed, Associate Professor

Stacy Rasmus

Tools for Life: Alaska Native Solutions to End Suicide
Stacy Rasmus, PhD, Director of the Center for Alaska Native Health Research

UAF Institue of Arctic Biology Logo

Music in the Garden Logo


Thursdays at the UAF Georgeson Botanical Garden
The first band begins at 6pm, the second at 7:30pm.

Music in the Garden does not cancel due to weather. In case of unhealthy conditions such as smoke, Music in the Garden will be moved to the Regents' Great Hall in the Fine Arts Complex, UAF Campus. When raining, Music in the Garden will take place under the covered Rotary pavilion in the garden. Please call Summer Sessions at 907-474-7021 to check.

Parking is limited, attendees are encouraged to use a FREE shuttle that departs from the Nenana Parking Lot, located across from the Patty Center, beginning at 5:30 p.m.





Fireweed Fiddle

6pm- Fireweed Fiddle


Steve Brown and the Bailers

7:30pm- Steve Brown and the Bailers



Cold Steel Drums

6pm- Cold Steel Drums


Marc Brown and the Blues Crew

7:30pm- Marc Brown and the Blues Crew



Cold Steel Drums

6pm- Ice Jam


Sourdough Rizers

7:30pm- Sourdough Rizers



Summer Music Academy Logo

6pm- UAF Summer Music Academy


Marc Brown and the Blues Crew

7:30pm- Red Hackle Pipe Band




6pm- Serevende Marimba Ensemble


Valley Below

7:30pm- Valley Below



Almost a Minyan

6pm- Almost a Minyan


O Tallulah

7:30pm- O Tallulah




6pm- WT Effington


Badger Street Jazz Band

7:30pm- Badger Street Jazz Band



FSAF Stepwise

6pm- FSAF Stepwise: Liam Lewis and Olivia Breidenthal



FSAF Emily Anderson and Ryan Bowers

7:30pm- FSAF American Roots: Emily Anderson and Ryan Bowers



6pm- Muskie Pines


South Cushman Social Club

7:30pm- South Cushman Social Club



Diamond Fuller

6pm- Diamond Fuller 


Ryan Bowers and the Brain Trust

7:30pm- Ryan Bowers and the Brain Trust



Headbolt Heaters

6pm- Headbolt Heaters


Fairbanks Jazz

7:30pm- Fairbanks Community Jazz Band



Susan Grace

6pm- Susan Grace


ET Barnette String Band

7:30pm- ET Barnette String Band

For more information, or to make an accommodation request at least five days in advance of this event, please contact the UA HR Accessibility Team at ua-ada-accessibility@alaska.edu or by phone at (907) 450-8200.

Music in the Garden Concerts are made possible by the generous contributions of these sponsors:  SRS, Phillip Marshall, 529 Alaska, Design Alaska, College Rotary, Toy Quest, Carpenters local 1243, Denali State Bankand the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

Carpenters logo     Design Alaska logo GBG logo toy quest logo Denali State Bank Logo Alaska 529 logo Golden Heart Physicians Logo