Student Research Projects and Other Accomplishments

Jessica Passini, ISER's 2014 policy award intern, has been working with Diwakar Vadapalli and the Office of Children Services, studying trends in age, gender, and ethnicity among children in foster care in Alaska. She will give a talk to discuss their findings. She will also talk briefly about her life growing up in Alaska and her previous research as an undergraduate at UAA. Jessica is a senior, working toward a degree in psychology and sociology. Title of her talk is "Trends in Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska" (Wednesday, December 3, 12 to 1, ISER Conference Room, Diplomacy Building)

KTVA 11 interviewed Sociology Alumni Michael Montgomery

MontgomeryOn October 13, 2014, Sociology Alumni Michael Montgomery was interviewed by Alaska's KTVA 11 about his research regarding developing acceptance of homosexual relationships and marriages.  The segment is titled "Changing Times in Alaska".

*Please note, Michael Montgomery is a Sociology Major, not a scientology major.

University Honors College- 10th Annual Undergraduate Research & Discovery Symposium

Congratulations to all the students who participated and won during the symposium!  2014 OURS SOCIOLOGY
  • Jessica Passini is the 2014 ISER Policy Research Award recipient. Congrats Jessica!
  • Rachel Wintz received the 2014 Discovery Award (which comes with a $2,000 monetary award). Congrats Rachel!!!
  • Marina Kreuzenstein and Michael Montgomery won 2013-2014 Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) Awards.  They also made an oral presentation at the symposium.  Congrats Marina and Michael!
Participants in the symposium included: Rebecca Duerre ("Neighbor Works Anchorage: Measuring Residential Satisfaction"), Nikita Robinson ("Mapping Landscape Values on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula"), and Elanor Watts (The Kenai Survey: Land Use Values and Perceptions").


I AM UAA: William Johnson Jr., UAA Sociology Alumni William Johnson JR. was in the Green & Gold I am UAA Staff Spotlight in 2014!  He recently left his position as an Administrative Assistant for the Military Programs and an National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) trainer. Good luck with your move William!


UAA Seawolf Dining and Catering Donates Meals to Students - 2013

Congrats to Sociology students, Nathaniel Chriest and Rachel Wintz who presented research on food security of students at UAA and made a difference!  A link to the article published in the UAA Green & Gold is available by clinking on the title above.  


2013 May Sociology Graduates       Graduation lunch  

Graduation lunch- Dept. of Sociology    Graduation lunch- Dept. of Sociology, 2013

Students graduating in May & December 2013 gathered together with their families and Sociology Faculty at the Moose's Tooth on May 4th, Saturday for a celebratory lunch. CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!!!!


Nathaniel Criest was accepted into Applied Sociology Masters program at the Northern Arizona University (with out of state tuition scholarship), Sustainable Communities Masters program at Northern Arizona University (with 50% assistantship) and the Sociology Masters program at the University of Wyoming with full tuition scholarship and graduate assistantship. Congratulations Nathaniel!

Sarah McHenry, Student Club co-presidentSarah McHenry, also a December 2013 graduate, received a Second Bridge Scholarship from UAA's Center for Community Engagement and Learning in 2013. She volunteered with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) Nepal where she worked at a community farm project in December 2013-January 2014 that focused on social justice. She received an undergraduate research grant to work on community gardens during Summer 2013. Currently she is applying to creative writing graduate programs. Good luck Sarah! Sarah McHenry Second Bridge Scholar 2013

Terri Coker (sociology minor) worked closely with the Student Affairs on a project about student advising at UAA. She presented her survey results at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in April 2013. She was also a Community Engaged Student Assistant in Geography 101 class project with Heifer International, under the mentorship of Dr. Van Dommelen. Terri also received the 2012 UAA Seawolf Leader Award. Congratulations, Terri!!


Rachel's winning video from the American Democracy Project, Student Plenary Video Contest


Conference Presentations & Attendance

Ninth Annual Undergraduate Research & Discovery Symposium (April 18, 2014)
Rasmuson Hall 220, Sociology Presentations, 12:15-1:15 pm (Awards ceremony - 3:30 pm in RH 101)
PLema_201412:15 pm, Priscilla Lema (Mentor, Dr. Edwards)- "Equal access for all: Do low-income residents have equal access to health food in Anchorage?"
12:30 pm, Haley Dampier & Tsugumi Kozuma (Mentor, Dr. Farrell)- ""The United States of Origin- Interpreting the immigrant experience of UAA students"
12:45 pm, Marina Kreuzenstein (Mentor, Dr. Riley)- "Sense making of the suppression of American Sign Language"
1 pm, Michael Montgomery (Mentor, Dr. Edwards)- ""Shaping factors for attitudes towards gays and lesbians in America"

RH 112, 1:45 pm, Apr 18, 2014, Fri.
Rachel Wintz, ISER Policy Award, "Alexander Avenue Storm Drain Reconstruction: Advocacy in Action."

Posters (completed in sociology classes) included at the Symposium are:
Rebecca Duerre (Sociology): "NeighborWorks Anchorage: Measuring Residential Satisfaction" (#76)- 3rd place, "Best in Show"
Marina Kreuzenstein (Sociology): "Sense making of the Suppression of American Sign Language" (#75)
Michael Montgomery (Sociology): "Shaping Factors for Attitudes toward Gays and Lesbians in America" (#88)
Elanor Watts (Sociology): "The Kenai Survey: Land Use Values and Perceptions" (#32)
Priscilla Lema (Environment & Society): "Equal Access for All: Do low-income Residents have access to health food in Anchorage?" (#43)
Nikita Robinson (Environment & Society): "Mapping Landscape Values on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula" (#34)
Haley Dampier and Tsugumi Kozuma (International Studies): "The United States of Origin--Interpreting the Immigrant Experience of UAA Students" (#79)

Eight Annual Undergraduate Research & Discovery Symposium (April 19, 2013)

Nathaniel Criest & Rachel Wintz presenting at Undergraduate Research Symposium
Daily Activities of Clients of Social Service Agencies in Fairview, Anchorage, AK, Rachel Wintz
Food Insecurity with the University Student Population: A Survey at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Rachel Wintz & Nathaniel ChriestBrianne Bower presenting
Get it Cheaper, Get it Quicker: The Relationship in US Neighborhoods between Fast Food and Economic Class, Brianne Bowers
Race and Gender Differentiation Among Front-End Employees in the Restaurant Industry in Anchorage, Alaska, Laura Orenga de Gaffory
Kids Count Alaska, Maegan Simmons
Undergraduate Academic Advising at University of Alaska Anchorage: A Survey on Student Awareness and Experiences, Terri Coker
Sociology Students and Faculty at Undergraduate Symposium  Students with Dr. Edwards

UAA Student Showcase (April 10-11, 2014)

Curtis Leitch presented his paper "Modern Schools and Changing Family Dynamics in Bhutan" at the 2014 Student Showcase on Thursday, April 10th at 6:30 pm at the Rasmuson Hall, Room 110. His mentor is Dr. Pfeiffer (SOC A361, Research Methods).

UAA Student Showcase (April 4-5, 2013)

Rachel Wintz Presenting at 2013 UAA Student ShowcaseKeerstin Beitter presented her paper "Options, Christian, and Secular Counseling for Women Faced with Unplanned Pregnancy," she wrote in SOC 347: Sociology of Religion class (Dr. Pfeiffer), on April 4th at the Student Union (7:30 pm, Student Union, Leadership Lab).

Rachel Wintz presented her paper "Does the church benefit its community?" she wrote in SOC A361: Social Science Research Methods class (Dr. Pfeiffer) on April 5th (11 am, ADM 143A).

Priscilla Lema (Environment & Society major) presented her paper "A Comparison of U.S. & Australian Indigenous Populations," she wrote in SOC 307: Demography class (Dr. Farrell), on April 5th (12:30, ADM 145).

Rachel Wintz and her mentor Dr. Karl Pfeiffer (Apr 2013)

Past UAA Student Showcase Presentations

Michelle Heun presented her paper, The Tea Party: A Reflection of American Ideals and Values, at the 2011 Student Showcase

Irina Ikatova presented her paper, Aging in Alaska: Causes and Implications, at the 2009 Student Showcase

Kate Sanders presented her paper, Beyond Industrialized School Lunch: Creating a Healthy Solution, at the 2009 Student Showcase.

Pacific Sociological Association
Jason Harper presented at the 2014 conference in Portland, OR at the Undergraduate Roundtable 14 on Social Stratification, Inequality, and Poverty. His paper was titled "James Harper, New York City's Nativist Mayor." (Friday, March 29th, 2014)

Jason Harper attended the conference in March 2013 in Reno, NV, on behalf of the Sociology Club.

Kent Spiers presented " I am the Same Kid as Yesterday: Youth Homelessness and Sexual Orientation" at the poster session (San Diego, CA, March 2012)

Katie Marquette presented "Equal Rights/Equal Benefits: An Exploration of Domestic Partner Benefits & Employment Protections in Alaska’s Private Sector" at the poster session (Oakland, CA, April 2010) (received the UAA Office of Undergraduate Research Discovery Grant and the USUAA Student Travel Grant to attend).

Grant Varvil presented "Alaska’s Female Commercial Fisherman: A Comparison of Characteristics of Female & Male Permit Holders" at the Undergraduate Roundtable session on Minorities: Race, Gender and Ethnicities(Oakland, CA, April 2010).

Brit Del Moral  presented "Salmon Farming: An Environmentally Unsustainable Industry & a Hazard to Human Health" (San Diego, CA, April 2009)

Brit Del Moral (with Dr. Diane Hirshberg) presented "An Exploration of Experiences & Outcomes of Recent Alaska Native Mt. Edgecumbe High School Graduates" (Portland, OR, April 2008)

Stefan Novotney (with Daniel Warnke, Jose Diaz and Reem Sheikh) presented "Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Popular Culture" at the Undergraduate Roundtable session on Sociology of Popular Culture (Hollywood, CA, April 2006) (received a Discovery Award to attend)

Association for the Study of Food and Society (New York, NY, June 2012)
Nathaniel Chriestpresented "Do EcolabelsMatter"

Real Food Challenge, Breaking Ground (Baltimore, MD, February 2013)
Nathaniel Chriest attended

Association for Psychological Science convention (Boston, MA, May 2010)
Grant Varvil received a Discovery Award to present his paper "Number of Women vs. Men Holding Commercial Fishing Permits."

Brit Del Moral (with Dr. Diane Hirshberg) presented "An Exploration of Experiences and Outcomes of Mt. Edgecombe High Schools Graduates (1986-2006)."

The National Indian Education Association Annual Conference (Honolulu, Hawaii, October 2007).
BOREAS Final Conference: Environments, Movements, Narratives in the Circumpolar North (Rovaniemi, Finland, 2009)
Katie Marquette was  one  of 22 international  student  recipients  of  a  National  Science  Foundation travel  grant  to  attend  the  BOREAS  final  conference  on  the  development  of  Arctic  rural  communities and indigenous cultures.

2012-2013 Practicum & Race class e-portfolios

Below you will find links to student portfolios created during Fall 2012 & Spring 2013, in SOC 487 (Practicum) & SOC 408 (Sociology of Race & Ethnicity) by Rachel Wintz, Nathaniel Chriest, Terri Coker, Jeri deSocio, Laura Orenga de Gaffory and Sarah McHenry. They all graduated now but they left behind wonderful portfolios to share with the world.


Rachel Wintz Rachel Wintz- Rachel received a Undergraduate Research in the Community Award in 2012. You can access her portfolio "Homeless and Out of Hope" here. She presented her research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in April 2013. Now an alumni, she subsequently worked on a general portfolio that took stock of all of her work while at UAA.

Rachel Wintz- eportfolio screen grab

Rachel Wintz- eportfolio


Nathaniel Chriest Nathaniel Chriest, also an alumni, received an Undergradute Research Grant for his "Do eco-labels affect consumer choice?" project in 2011. He presented his findings at the Symposium in April 2011 as well as at the Association for the Study of Food and Society conference in New York, NY in summer 2011. His portfolio was a professional e-portfolio tailored for graduate school applications, encompassing all of his projects.

Nathaniel Chriest eportfolio screen grab

Nathaniel Chriest- eportfolio


Sarah McHenry was exploring alienation from food source and how it affects human society. To that end she worked on a project about community gardens and how they contribute to better community health.

Sarah McHenry eportfolio screen grab

Sarah McHenry - eportfolio

Jeri deSocio - eportfolio

Laura Orange de Gaffory - eportfolio


Terri Coker- eportfolio



2012, 8th Annual Undergraduate Research & Discovery Symposium

JordanPresentingSee full program here

Kent Spiers, I am the Same Kid as Yesterday; Youth Homelessness and Sexual Orientation

Jordan Love,Gender Stereotypes in Disney Films

Nathaniel Chriest, Do Eco-labels Affect Consumer Choice?

Katy Sanders, Undergraduate Student's Perceptions of Planned Homebirths

Kent Spiers & Lillian Sloth, Kids Count: Who Gets the Cookie?  A Report on the Well-Being of Alaska's Children (ISER Research Award)

Kent Spiers et. al., UAA Student Preparation for College-level English: A Study of Student Perceptions (FLEUR award)

Erica Mitchell received Special recognition as one of the two Discovery Award nominees (with monetary award) from the Honors College.

KentPresenting Nelta_Jordan Nelta_KentEricaMitchell ZeynepNathaniel NeltaKatey


ISER Policy Research Award Recipients from Sociology

Fall 2014: Jessica Passini

Spring 2013: Rachel Wintz- worked with Dr. Diwakar Vadapalli (Public Policy), writing a case study about a successful local community organizing campaign that spanned a four-year period.

Spring 2012: Kent Spiers - worked with Dr. Virgene Hanna on the 2011/2012 Kids Count Data Book.

Fall 2011: Lillian Sloth - worked with Dr. Virgene Hanna on the 2011/2012 Kids Count Data Book.

Spring 2011: Erica Mitchell -  worked with Drs. Rosyland Frazier and Diane Hirshberg.

Spring 2010: Leigh Coppola -  worked with Dr. Rosyland Frazier. Melissa Bradley - worked with Dr. Ginny Fay.

Fall 2009: Kate Sanders (Sociology/Gender Studies) -  worked with Dr. Marie Lowe.

Spring 2009:  Grant Varvil -  worked with Dr. Gunnar Knapp on a study of Alaska Fisheries. Katie Marquette -  worked with Dr. Diane Hirshberg on a study of the availability of domestic partner benefits and antidiscrimination policies in the private sector in Anchorage. Irina Ikatova -  worked with Dr. Virgene Hanna on a Kids Count Alaska Project. 

Spring 2007: Brit DelMoral assisted Dr. Diane Hirshberg on a study of recent graduates of Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska.


2011 Undergradute Research Symposium

Congratulations to our sociology students on attending the 2011 UAA Research Symposium.
Erica Mitchell and Carolyn Tix successfully submitted a proposal to UAA Undergraduate Research, and were invited to present their sociological research on Friday April 15th in the poster session.

Erica Mitchell presented her research poster on "Alternative to Care: Nurse Practitioners as Primary Care Providers for Medicare Patients." Erica worked as an intern for ISER, assisting in data analysis for their current research. The presented project focused on Medicare patients access to primary care physicians, and the future potential of nurse practitioners to become primary care providers

erica resized research
Erica Mitchell

Carolyn Tix presented her research poster on "A Survey of Healthy Multiplicity: Exploring a Non-Disordered Model." Her research centered on an exploratory survey of multiples online. Multiples are many individuals living in one body. Her research focused on the distinctions between the disordered medical model, and the emerging alternative functional model.

Carolyn Tix

Carolyn Tix

Congratulations to Michelle Heun as well for presenting her paper, The Tea Party: A Reflection of American Ideals and Values, at the 2011 Student Showcase.