As Mellon Fellows, Theresa John and Jordan Lewis will receive a $30,000 stipend, and research and travel funds in addition to tuition and fees. Their fellowships include professional development opportunities, such as how to prepare for conference presentations, write grants and write for publication, how to successfully complete a doctoral dissertation, and how the tenure and promotion process works.

Lewis, an Aleut from Naknek, holds a master’s degree in social work from Washington University and is in his fourth year of doctoral work at UAF. His studies focus on gerontology and circumpolar health issues in rural Alaska communities, and his dissertation research explores the concept of successful aging from an Alaska Native perspective.

John is an assistant professor in the Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development. She began her doctoral work in January 2007 through the Second Language Acquisition Teacher Education project at the Alaska Native Language Center. Her dissertation will include the results of her ethnographic research on Yupik dance in Southwestern Alaska, where John grew up. John holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in cross-cultural education from UAF.

The Mellon Dissertation Fellowship program was established this year after the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation pledged $700,000 to the University of Alaska Fairbanks over the next five years to provide financial support to students in the dissertation-writing phase of their doctoral programs. The fellowship program aims to increase the number of Native students earning doctoral degrees and, as a result, the number of Native faculty members. The program will fund up to four fellowships each year.

According to Dr. Lawrence Duffy, Dean of the Graduate School at UAF and co-Lead of Graduate Studies for the University of the Arctic, UAF’s support of graduate education for Alaska Native students will soon be further enhanced by the implementation of an Indigenous Studies Ph.D. program, which is currently under review. Once in place, this program is expected to serve as the basis for forming an Indigenous Ph.D. Thematic Network under the new UArctic graduate division.

These exciting efforts at UAF are the outgrowth of a project headed by Dr. Raymond Barnhardt that is part of the UArctic IPY Higher Education and Outreach project cluster.