Meet the Research Team
Jaedon P. Avey, PhD
Jaedon Avey is a third generation Alaskan, whose family moved here in 1951. He has experience in qualitative and quantitative research, adult instruction, and therapy and psychological assessment. Avey has been with SCF Research since 2013 and contributes to projects on depression management, tobacco pharmacogenetics, screening for psychological trauma and alcohol sobriety. Avey volunteers on the board of directors of the Alaska Psychological Association and the University Kiwanis Club (Keystone Kops of Fur Rondy). He lives in Anchorage with his wife, young daughter and much of his immediate family. He enjoys camping, hiking, woodworking, game nights, yard sales and baseball. View Avey’s Curriculum Vitae
Julie A. Beans, MPH
Julie Beans was born in Anchorage and raised on the lower Yukon in St. Mary’s and Pilot Station and on the Oneida Nation reservation in Wisconsin. She is Yup’ik (Yupiit of the Andreafski) and Oneida from Wisconsin. She has a research background in toxicology, analytical chemistry and genetics research support. At SCF, Beans has worked on a wide range of research projects covering topics including: diabetes, chronic illness, pharmacogenetics and suicide. She is involved with SCF Research projects on many levels, including: grant writing support, data collection, data management, data analysis, results dissemination and study coordination. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, road trips and reading. View Beans’ Curriculum Vitae
Denise A. Dillard, PhD
Denise Dillard is Inupiaq Eskimo and was born in Fairbanks and raised in Anchorage. She has conducted post-doctoral quantitative and qualitative research since 1998 and is a licensed psychologist. She oversees the direction of research projects in behavioral health, cancer, pharmacogenetics, health disparities, patient-centered outcomes, and other areas. She works with SCF’s Board of Directors as they review research involving the Alaska Native community and serves on the Alaska Area Institutional Review Board. She has a son, Reid, and is close to her family. She enjoys spending time camping, fishing, quilting, going to hot yoga, and attending her son’s baseball games. View Dillard’s Curriculum Vitae
Brianna M. Goins
Brianna Goins was born and raised on the Kenai Peninsula. She moved to Anchorage to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage. She graduated from UAA in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Brianna joined SCF in 2019 as a Program Coordinator with a focus in grant administration. She looks forward to advancing her knowledge about research and continuing to take courses in pursuit of her master’s degree. Brianna enjoys taking classes to learn more about yoga, coffee, and cooking. Her hobbies include spending time with her cats, performing arts, traveling to new places, and exploring Alaska.
Tamara L. Hedlund
Tamara Hedlund grew up in the Iliamna lake region, and is Athabascan and Yup’ik and has lived in Anchorage since 2011. She coordinates SCF’s Tribal Review process which includes working with the research oversight committee for research project approval. Since joining SCF Research, Hedlund has had the opportunity to see how research projects work to improve the overall health and wellness of Alaska Native people. She enjoys spending time in Alaska’s great outdoors; hobbies include hunting, sewing and creating.
Vanessa Y. Hiratsuka, PhD MPH
Vanessa Hiratsuka is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and is also Winnemem Wintu, from Northern California. For more than 16 years, she has conducted quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research in American Indian and Alaska Native health systems. Her focus is community-based participatory research within an Alaska Native managed, patient-centered medical home primary care center in urban, rural and frontier communities to reduce health disparities and promote health and wellness in a culturally appropriate manner. She lives in Anchorage with her husband, Tom, and their two children. She enjoys crafting and giving homemade gifts to her friends and family. View Hiratsuka’s Curriculum Vitae
Kelley J. Jansen, MS, MAC
Kelley Jansen is of Aleut and Dutch descent and grew up in Mukilteo, Washington. She comes from a multi-generational fishing family with deep roots in Alaska. Kelley began working at SCF in July 2011. She holds a BA in Psychology, a MS in Clinical Mental Health, and is a nationally certified addictions counselor. She has experience in treating substance abuse and mental health disorders and a research background in systemic, social, and behavioral health issues. Kelly and her husband live in Anchorage with their four dogs. She enjoys competing in endurance sports and making art.
Brianna R. Lengele
Brianna Lengele is Athabascan and was born and raised in Anchorage, AK. Her mother was born in Cordova, but raised in Anchorage, and her father was born in Oregon. She found out about SCF Research through the Administrative Support Training Program (ASTP), found it extremely interesting, and wanted to know more about it. Her role as an administrative support is to assist researchers and other team members on multiple projects. Brianna has one cat and two dogs, and enjoys walking them in her free time. She loves to go camping, hiking, snow machining, and anything else that has to do with the outdoors.
Kate M. Lillie, PhD
Kate Lillie was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska and is Athabascan. She got her Bachelor’s in the Biological Sciences from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2012. She continued with her education and obtained a Ph.D. in Ecology from Utah State University in 2018. The focus of her dissertation was the development and fitness consequences of onshore behavior among polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation. Kate has been working at Southcentral Foundation since 2018 and will be supporting projects related to behavioral health research. Kate enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with her husband and their son. View Lillie’s Curriculum Vitae
Saharra I. McKee
Saharra McKee was born in Frankfurt, Germany but grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. She is Athabaskan and Italian with strong ties to her Italian culture. Saharra has a bachelor’s degree in art with an emphasis on graphic design and illustrations. Saharra began her career with SCF in June 2019 after completing the Administrative Support Training Program. She assists with recruiting participants, data collection, and other administrative duties. She is interested in learning more about research and the studies currently conducted at SCF. On her downtime, Saharra loves doing outdoor activities, travel, cooking, and understanding different cultures.
John David Richardson
John David (JD) Richardson is Yupik and was born and raised in Anchorage Alaska. JD is the youngest sibling of three and also an Uncle. He has been with SCF since February of 2016. He started as an intern with the Native Men’s Wellness Program and transitioned to administrative support with the Learning Institute. Since joining SCF Research, he has progressed to Program Coordinator. He is an International Studies Major and International Business Minor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. JD enjoys walking his dog, hiking, traveling, language learning, and Fantasy Football. His favorite football team is the Tennessee Titans.
Mike Todd, MBA
Michael moved from Texas to Alaska in the summer of 2016. His experience in market research spans a wide range of industries, including pharmaceuticals/biotechnology, technology, consumer packaged goods, and as a market research supplier. He has experience in qualitative and quantitative research, forecasting, market sizing, and portfolio analysis. Michael joined SCF Research in January 2017. He has three grown children and grandchildren living in Texas. Michael volunteers with the Wounded Heroes Project and the SCF Soldier’s Heart program, helping military veterans and first responders manage post-traumatic stress and discover Alaska. Michael enjoys hunting, fishing, skiing, camping, hiking, and exploring Alaska. View Todd’s Curriculum Vitae
Krista R. Schaefer, MPH
Krista Schaefer grew up in the Midwest and moved to Alaska in 2016 when she joined the SCF Research Department. Schaefer’s research experience includes broad subject matter on Alzheimer’s, tobacco cessation, pharmacogenomics, and blood pressure all within the Alaska Native community. Prior she did program evaluation, mathematical modeling, and women’s health initiatives. She enjoys all outdoor activities along with books, travel, and cooking.
Aliassa L. Shane
Aliassa Shane is Shoshone-Paiute and Aleut. She was born in Boise, Idaho, and grew up near San Diego, California, while her father served in the military. She worked with the California Native American Research Center for Health while earning a bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies at San Diego State University. At SCF, she supports the department manager on grant administration. She is currently attending the University of Alaska Anchorage for her Master’s in Public Health. Her hobbies include traveling, listening to live music and trying new things.
Jennifer L. Shaw, PhD
Jennifer Shaw is from Lawrence, Kansas and has lived in Alaska since 2003. She is of Ashkenazi Jewish and French-Canadian descent. Since 1998, Jennifer has conducted mixed-methods and applied health research on diverse topics as a medical anthropologist. She joined the SCF Research department in 2010 and is now a Senior Researcher. Her team works closely with behavioral services and has led research efforts on suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention and treatment, palliative care, and depression management. Jennifer loves camping, hiking, traveling, and exploring Alaska with her husband and their two giant Bernese Mountain Dogs, Princess Buttercup and Kismet. View Shaw’s Curriculum Vitae
Daniel S. Shrader
Daniel Shrader has spent most of his life in Anchorage and is of Inupiaq Eskimo and Aleut decent. In his role, he validates and coordinates the work of research administrative personnel to include program coordinators, and works closely with research managers and senior researchers on project requests and needs relating to administrative work. Since joining SCF Research, Shrader has had the opportunity to see how research projects work to improve the overall health and wellness of Alaska Native people. He enjoys spending time in Alaska’s great outdoors with family and friends, and his hobbies include hunting, boating, hiking and classic cars.
Devon T. Sigourney
Devon Sigourney is of Athabascan decent and was born at the Elmendorf Air Force Base and raised in Anchorage. He graduated from Bartlett High School in 2016. Devon started working for SCF in January 2017 through the Administrative Support Training Program. Since joining research, Devon has worked on multiple projects assisting with recruitment and data collection, processing specimens in the lab, as well as, working on his regular administrative duties. He is close with his family and enjoys spending time with them during his free time. Devon enjoys soccer, traveling, going to the movies, and finding the perfect shoes.
Brianna Sauraq Smith
Brianna Sauraq Smith is Inupiaq and was born and raised in Kotzebue, Alaska. She moved to Anchorage in 2010 and later graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with her Bachelor of Science in Natural Science with minors in chemistry and psychology. Throughout her undergraduate studies Brianna was part of the Research Department as an intern. She returned to the Research Department in November 2019 as Administrative Support for on-going projects. Brianna lives in Eagle River with her husband Cody and her Great Pyrenees/Poodle named Rutabaga. When she’s not in the office, she enjoys hiking the trails, baking, and sewing.
R. Brian Woodbury
R. Brian Woodbury grew up in northern Michigan, but has traveled broadly—first as a practical nurse in the U.S. Army and later as a manager of community health projects in Nepal. Brian has supported basic science research on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying addiction, and public health and health policy research on the treatment of cardiac arrest, vision impairment and eye disease, and the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. Brian joined Southcentral Foundation in 2017 and will be supporting projects related to community-based participatory research. Brian is an avid reader and outdoorsman, and enjoys spending his weekends exploring the natural beauty of Alaska. View Woodbury’s Curriculum Vitae
Kyle A. Wark, MA
Kyle Wark was born and raised in Hoonah, Alaska. His mother’s family is Tlingit (Deisheetaan Raven/Beaver clan), and his father is non-Native from Seattle (later adopted into the Chookaneidi Eagle/Wolf clan). He became an anthropologist to study his Tlingit people, and has primarily researched the impacts of colonization on Alaska Native health and wellbeing. Kyle joined SCF in July 2017, and will be working on projects related to genomics, genetics, and social determinants of health. He has lived in Anchorage since 2008, and enjoys reading, playing Go (an ancient Chinese strategy game), picking berries, and spending time with his family. View Wark’s Curriculum Vitae
Alexander Viera is of Athabascan and Yupik descent, and was born in Anchorage, Alaska. Alex joined SCF as a RAISE intern in 2011. He returned to SCF in August 2019 as a Native Men’s Wellness intern and transitioned into the Research Department in December 2019. He finds gratitude knowing the work done here at SCF Research directly benefits Alaska Native and American Indian people. He enjoys using technology to better his life and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In his free time, Alexander enjoys skiing, cycling, music events and spending time with friends and family.