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Micaela with seal for tagging

Any student that has engaged in biology at UAS could whole-heartedly say that it is inferior to none. I came to UAS as a REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) student in 2006 while I was attending school in Colorado. I was immediately whisked away to the Alaskan Arctic where I spent my days on the frozen ocean assisting Dr. Brendan Kelly and his research group to capture and track seals to learn more about their behavior and population structure. I was gaining world-class research experience and I knew I could not give that up and go back to Colorado; so I decided to transfer to UAS where I graduated with dual degrees in Biology and Mathematics.

While working for multiple UAS faculty members, such as Dr. Brendan Kelly and Dr. David Tallmon, I found myself learning the true value of scientific inquiry and what it meant to "think outside the box", while dedicating myself to the research at hand. One thing that is frequently overlooked is that professors do not go to UAS because it is a "big name" institution; they are there because they love their work. UAS biology professors are experts in their fields and they not only love their research, but they dedicate themselves to their students. It truly is amazing to sit in an evolution class with Prof. Tallmon or an animal physiology class with Prof. Tamone and hear them talk so passionately about the subjects they have dedicated their lives to.  

REU Student Housing

The biology department at UAS is very small; thus, every professor and every student plays an integral role in shaping the program from year to year. Although it isn't as large as other programs, UAS has amazing research and learning opportunities for students who are willing to work hard, and put forth full effort. Throughout my time at UAS, I have trained in population genetics, learned how to track animal behavior, participated in multiple research expeditions to the Arctic, and stomped in the streams of Glacier Bay National Park and Juneau. In addition, I was awarded research opportunities with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which allowed me to do biodiversity studies in the North Atlantic and study wildlife pathogens in Montana. But most of all, I left UAS able to hold my head up high in the scientific community. In interviewing for research assistantships, PhD programs, and graduate fellowships, I found that I am just as competitive and well-trained as any of my peers that have went to very prestigious schools such as Harvard and Princeton. I can truly say that my education at UAS lacked nothing. Students who come to UAS as freshmen can sit comfortably knowing that they are getting a top tier education, and students who transfer to UAS will be amazed to see how a passionate group of professors can inspire students to pursue the advancement of science. This is why, summer-after-summer, UAS attracts top biology students from around the US to participate in the REU program, and every year those students don't want to leave. I think that speaks for itself.

Micaela Martinez-Bakker

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