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Usibelli awards honor leaders in teaching, research, service

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: (907) 474-7902

04/27/06

A. Gharrett
Photo courtesy SFOS
A. Gharrett
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P. Pinney
UAF Photo by Todd Paris
P. Pinney
Download photo

A. Gharrett
UAF photo by Todd Paris
Fairbanks, Alaska--The University of Alaska Fairbanks has announced the recipients of the 2006 Emil Usibelli Distinguished Teaching, Research and Public Service awards.

Kelly Drew, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will receive the award for teaching; Anthony Gharrett, professor of fisheries, will receive the research award; and Peter Pinney, professor of English, will receive the public service award. The trio will be honored at a reception May 1 at 4 p.m. in Wood Center Conference Rooms C and D.

Drew has been a member of UAF's faculty since 1993. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from UAF and a doctorate in pharmacology from Albany Medical College.

In multiple nomination letters, Drew's past students speak of her as an enthusiastic, supportive and attentive mentor who helped shaped their future careers. In addition, they note that Drew's emphasis on teaching extends beyond the classroom and the university. She seeks out research opportunities for graduate, undergraduate and secondary students and actively participates in multiple public science outreach activities at UAF.

Drew, who is a state-certified secondary teacher, says she finds teaching rewarding for some of the same reasons research appeals to her: the process of discovery.

"What I like most about teaching is discovering intellect and creativity in students otherwise overlooked by traditional observers," she says. "For these students, a teacher needs only to acknowledge their abilities and point them in the direction of their dreams."

Gharrett's work at UAF spans nearly three decades. He holds a bachelor's degree in biology from California Institute of Technology and master's and doctoral degrees from Oregon State University.

His colleagues in the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences note that he is an internationally recognized leader in his field of genetics. He has authored multiple papers and has a strong record of producing well-prepared graduate students.

During his 30-year career, Gharrett's research has focused on Alaska fish, primarily salmon and rockfish, and genetic markers within their populations. The results of these studies are used to help guide fisheries management practices. In addition, Gharrett and his colleagues recently discovered that the rougheye rockfish, which is commonly caught in commercial fisheries, includes two genetically distinct species.

"The research of Dr. Gharrett and his students brings distinction to our program and to the university," says Denis Wiesenburg, dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Pinney began his career at UAF in 1980 as a payroll clerk at Tanana Valley Community College. He holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and a master's degree in creative writing from UAF. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in education from Walden University and plans to graduate in 2009.

The diversity of those who supported Pinney's nomination for the award speaks to his active involvement in the local community. The list ranges from nonprofit leaders to borough assembly members to academic colleagues. And Pinney's vita details the sheer number of organizations he has worked with. He is a member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Heath and Social Services Commission and a founding member of the North Star Community Foundation and of UAF's gay student organization. He serves as treasurer for the local chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and is an annual volunteer for KUAC's fundraisers. Within the university, he has been an active participant in the faculty union and has served as president of the Faculty Senate.

"Without a doubt, Pete exemplifies the idea of public service and the notion that the University of Alaska Fairbanks is a partner in our Golden Heart community," says Michael Walsh, one of nearly a dozen people who wrote in support of Pinney receiving the award. "There is no better way to say it: Pete Pinney has dedicated his adult life to making Fairbanks a better, more tolerant and more caring place to live, work and raise a family."

The Emil Usibelli Distinguished Teaching, Research and Public Service awards are considered one of the university's most prestigious awards. They represent UAF's tripartite mission and are funded annually from a $600,000 endowment established by the Usibelli Coal Mine in 1992. Nominees are evaluated by a committee, which includes members from the faculty, the student body and a member of the UA Foundation Board of Trustees. Each of the winners receives a cash award of $10,000.

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