Hello, my name is Jason Gasper and I graduated from UAS in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in biology with an emphasis in marine biology. My tenure at UAS was academically fulfilling and exposed me to a wealth of experiences that provided me with a foundation for both life and career.
Juneau is one of the most unique cities in the United States. It is a small town where you can be surrounded by whales and fish during the day and catch a lecture on undersea coral gardens at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor’s Center or see a play at Perseverance Theater in the evening. From an academic perspective, the physical environment in which UAS is situated is first-rate.
Several classes, such as Dr. Ginny Eckert’s Ecology class stick out in my mind. One of my best class memories was a lab on ecological succession at the Mendenhall Glacier (only 15 minutes away from the university). The glacier is a perfect place to study succession due to the whole area being buried in 200 feet of ice only 200 years ago. The most memorable part of that lab was witnessing a massive avalanche barreling down Stroller White. I have never had classes that dynamic outside of UAS!
Dynamic classes are the norm for UAS. I had many great professors during the 4 years I spent at UAS, thus, it is impossible to single out an individual. Most of my professors encouraged me and other students to pursue our interests and gain career-orientated experience, which is not hard to do because of the myriad of government agencies present in Juneau. For example, from 1998-2000 I assisted local NMFS biologists on shark tagging trips in Prince William Sound. This research involved bringing live salmon sharks aboard a vessel to record scientific information and deploy archival satellite tags. It was truly a life-changing experience.
After completing my degree at UAS, I gained admittance to the University of Washington, School of Marine Affairs. This program focused on marine policy, and I choose to specialize in fishery policy. My thesis was about marine sport fish harvest and guide-client behavior interactions in and around Glacier Bay National Park.
After completing my Master Degree, I was hired as the Assistant Management Biologist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Region I office. Then in the fall of 2005 I began working as an intern at the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Sustainable Fisheries Division’s office while I started a Ph.D. at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. My dissertation will include a bioeconomic model and policy analysis of potential commercial dogfish fisheries in Alaska.
I highly recommend the UAS program to any individuals who love the outdoors and are looking for unique field research opportunities. There are, however, a few downsides to UAS. While attending classes in the Anderson Building, I found it difficult to concentrate at times. There were many days when watching snow falling on the beach and thinking about skiing at Eaglecrest made class almost unbearable. Priorities!
UPDATE: Jason is currently a student in the University of Alaska School of Fisheries graduate program.