Photos provided by alumni unless otherwise noted. Above: Engineering alumna Victoria Nelson ’21 studies on a hammock during finals week in April 2021 at the Troth Yeddha' campus. UAF photo by Leif Van Cise.
Russ Knapp ’69 received the 2021 William R. Cashen Service Award from the UAF Alumni Association. Russ graduated from the University of Alaska with a wildlife management degree. His best memories are of playing hockey on the outdoor ice rink with the campus club team. He was reintroduced to UAF through a hockey reunion in 2005, when he traveled to Fairbanks from his home in Nassau, New York. He has returned every year since. He regularly attends Alaska Nanooks hockey games, both in Fairbanks and on the road. He is active in a variety of groups supporting the UAF hockey program and has been instrumental in preserving Nanooks’ hockey history.
Shirley Saucerman ’69 — “I have fond memories of UAF and the wonderful people there. My brother, Charles Saucerman ’72, went home to be with the Lord in 2012. I did psychiatric residency training in Pennsylvania then returned home to Alaska in 1984. Since then I have enjoyed living in Anchorage.
Charles was accepted to the University of Hawaii Medical School at age 19. Shortly afterward, he was diagnosed with a mental illness. He later successfully studied 2 1/2 years of medical school. Mental illness disrupted his life. Food changed it!
My brother and I both graduated from UAF in biological sciences when Brina Kessel was heading the department. Our parents taught school in rural Alaska beginning in Angoon in 1958 and later in Seldovia, Teller, Portage Creek, Manokotak and Togiak.
I worked in Tecate, Mexico, in a small hospital delivering babies and in the ER before residency training.
I tell his story and how we have tremendous power over our health with the food we choose to eat. People may recover from many chronic illnesses, including bipolar disorders and schizophrenia, by using the principles described in my book, ‘Recovery from Bipolar Disorders and Schizophrenia: My Brother’s Story, Recovery of Others, Research and Model Programs from Around the World.’ The digital book is available here.
I specialize in nutritional psychiatry and lifestyle medicine.”
Photo caption: Kim (right) and Marsha Francisco.
Kim Francisco ’74 — “‘You’re so damn dumb you can’t even spell dog!’
‘I can too. G-O-D.’
The tense moment at the supper table unexpectedly turned into fits of laughter from my mother and siblings. My father smiled but just shook his head. I sat red-faced wondering what I had said that was so funny.
‘Dick, don’t worry,’ my mother said. ‘Kim is very smart, and Linda and I taught him to read. We’ll teach him to spell.’
I returned to the little classroom in the basement where my older sister ‘played’ student teacher, and I was forced to go through flash cards, spelling exercises and math.
I became an avid reader and wanted to be a writer. Spelling still is difficult, and I bless whoever created GrammaTech so Bill Gates could add it to Word.
I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, listening to my father’s stories about spending World War II in the Navy in Alaska. My grandmother traveled to Fairbanks as a personal nurse by steamship and river boat in the early years of the 20th century. She wasn’t impressed — ‘just saloons and mud streets, filled with drunks.’ While my ambition growing up was to be a veterinarian, I also wanted to hunt and fish in Alaska. Had there been bucket lists in those days, Alaska would have been on mine. I read Service, London and Russell, along with everything else I could find.
Brian Brubaker ’96 — “I was a UAF student from 1989-1996. I have a lot of fun memories. Some of my favorites include: time with friends at Hot Licks, walking through the ice fog at minus 30 to get to Professor Gislason’s calculus class at 8 a.m. in Brooks with its ancient heat radiators, Saturday night shifts at the Wood Center front desk, protesting tuition hikes by sleeping overnight in the Butrovich lobby, and signing the Lathrop Hall asbestos tile for Gov. Hickel.
I broke up with Amber Hopkins ’97 in the spring of ’94 when I was passing her in the entryway of Constitution Hall. (We didn’t have text messages then.) Big mistake! Fast forward six or seven years and I wised up. Now we’ve been hitched for 18 years, and it’s working out pretty well so far.
We left Fairbanks in 2004, and now we are anchored down in Anchortown. You don’t recognize all the super-fun people in the aisles of Fred Meyer so much here in the big city, but the weather’s nice in the banana belt. Amber is an analyst programmer for the Alaska Child Support Services Division now, after 19 years working for UA and UAA. I’m a finance and logistics analyst for the Municipality of Anchorage’s Office of Information Technology.
We love our future Nanook, Emily! She’s a fourth grader at Aquarian Charter School. Amanda is her Girl Scout troop leader, and she’s been making the most of pandemic learning. Emily likes Percy Jackson books, won her school spelling bee this year and loves playing Uno with me.”
Photo caption: Somer Hahm (second from left) stands with Team Flying Geese after installing a quilt at the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge barn.
Somer Hahm ’08 — “The Far North Quilt Trail Project is my most recent artist-led endeavor of creative place-making. 2020 was an amazing year for my project. I received an individual artist award from the Rasmuson Foundation, support from the Alaska chapter of the Awesome Foundation and funding from the Alaska State Council of the Arts, in partnership with The Folk School Fairbanks, in the form of a community arts development grant. Currently, we have 18 barn quilts on the trail since its inception in July 2019, nine of which were painted and registered on the trail by community members. The Far North Quilt Trail has resonated during the global pandemic. It’s a citywide scavenger hunt for public art that can be done outside and in a social bubble! Igniting the eyes and minds of Fairbanksans to support, create and enjoy vibrant geometric paintings has been a success. Follow along online and on social media @thefarnorthquilttrailproject.”
Photo caption: Ryan Muspratt holds a fish in 2019.
Ryan Muspratt ’08 — “After graduating with a B.B.A. both in accounting and in management and organizations, while completing four years on the UAF hockey team, I moved to Anchorage. There, I worked at KPMG as an auditor and was able to earn my CPA license. After nearly five years at KPMG, I moved to Arctic Slope Regional Corp., where I held roles in both the Finance and Operations departments. In 2016, I was moved to the ASRC subsidiary Petro Star Inc., in the chief financial officer role, and have been doing that ever since. Petro Star owns and operates two of the three operating refineries in Alaska, one of which is located in North Pole. Petro Star owns Sourdough Fuel in the Interior area, as well as North Pacific Fuel, which manages heating oil and dockside fuel operations in Valdez, Kodiak and Dutch Harbor. In my current capacity, I manage the Accounting, Financial Planning and Analysis, IT, Administration and Bulk Sales departments. Working at KPMG, ASRC and Petro Star has allowed me the opportunity to travel to all corners of this state and spend a fair amount of time where I went to university. I also have the benefit of working for fellow UAF alum Charlie Kozak ’97, ’98, chief financial officer of ASRC.
In my time since UAF, I have had the good fortune of working on a volunteer basis with Special Olympics Alaska, UAF School of Management advisory boards and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Recently, I was selected as an ‘Alaska top 40 under 40’ awardee.
I am newly married to my amazing wife Jenna. We pulled off a small pandemic wedding in Talkeetna. We are both passionate about living here in Alaska with the outdoor recreation and quality of life it provides.”
Photo caption: Erica Moeller and Danke pause during a hike to Angel Rocks near Fairbanks.
Erica Moeller ’18 — “I moved to Alaska in 2013 as an Army logistics officer and was stationed at Fort Wainwright. After leaving the Army, I decided UAF would be the perfect stepping stone to re-enter the civilian world. I pursued a bachelor’s in biology, with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary science. I graduated in 2018 and, despite trying to find work in my new field, found myself gravitating back to logistics.
I worked for a local trucking company and was lucky enough to be hired into a federal civilian job on base, but nothing really called to me. Through a series of misadventures that have turned into blessings, I found myself starting the Roaming Root Cellar, a small boutique store that sells only Alaska-made and -grown food and gifts. Roaming Root has the mission of connecting our community with local goodness, year-round. We’ve been in business just over a year, and it’s truly been an adventure. Over the last year, I grew the business from a bus (we started in a 23-foot, 1976 Bluebird International) into a 2,400-square-foot storefront in the Chena Pump Plaza. I have never worked a job that has required so much but given so much as this journey through entrepreneurship has.
Over the last eight years, Fairbanks and its community has become my home. My husband and I bought our house four years ago and have steadily increased the number of dogs and snow toys we own. When not working, we try to take full advantage of the beauty and wilderness around us by skiing, backpacking and biking our way through the seasons.”
Photo caption: Abigail Steffen visits her hometown of Elgin, Illinois, in 2021.
Abigail Steffen ’20 — “After graduating in December 2020, I spoke at the internationally attended National Council for Science and the Environment Drawdown Conference 2021. I presented on the development of Alaska climate policy, along with my research team, led by Amy Lovecraft at the Center for Arctic Policy at UAF.
This research was published by the Center for Arctic Policy in March 2021 and titled ‘Alaska’s Climate Change Policy Development.’ Since 2019, I have served on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Joint Climate Change Task Force, which is working to create a climate action plan for the borough.
Graduating during a pandemic proved interesting, but I took the opportunity to reconnect with what inspired me to pursue environmental science in the first place: getting outside. I began fat biking, skiing and even watercoloring to capture the natural world I hold so dear.
This summer I will be an Alaska Conservation Foundation Ted Smith intern with the Sitka Conservation Society. I will work on protecting the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the world. I will also promote climate policy on the local, state and national level and help to promote local and youth voices in the process.”