Kristen Reece

April 2023 – Undergraduate

Native Village of Selawik
Fairbanks, AK

Scholarship: Wells Fargo Undergraduate and NextEra Energy Foundation 
School: University of Alaska Fairbanks   
Degree: Biological Sciences
GPA: 3.4

My Iñupiaq name is Atluk. My family is from the rural village of Selawik, Alaska. Our village is known for its whitefish and sheefish population, which is a significant portion of the subsistence harvest. I am a non-traditional undergraduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) studying Biological Sciences as a Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) Scholar. After leaving UAF in 2005, I decided to return for my bachelor’s, but on a very different path this time.

My experience in the Biological Sciences began in January 2022 in support of the BLaST Undergraduate Research Experience Program at UAF, while I was finishing up my associate’s degree in Allied Health at Iḷisaġvik College. I was fortunate to have been chosen to work in the Ichthyology and Genetics Laboratory with my mentor, Dr. Andrés López, and graduate student of the fisheries department, Maggie Harings. This was my first experience working in the laboratory and conducting scientific research. I have spent the last 20 years in the Early Childhood Development career field, so the scientific research world is still very new to me.

With the support of my family, encouragement from my mentors, and motivation from my community, I am on a successful educational journey to represent underrepresented Indigenous scientists in the fisheries field. I am connecting Indigenous traditional knowledge with Western science in fisheries and genetics research.

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