|Life Science

TEACHING FOR ALASKA

Since 1999, enrollments in biology and wildlife have increased by 25 percent while there has only been a 5.5 percent increase in teaching space, which was achieved through reassigning
existing space.

UAF’s biological sciences program prepares students for high-demand careers and advanced degrees in all areas of biological sciences including animal and human health, wildlife management, physiology, ecosystems studies and others. As the state’s only doctoral degree-granting institution, UAF’s expertise in basic biological research provides an exceptional opportunity for students to learn in an environment that integrates teaching with cutting edge research. Increasing numbers of undergraduate students are combining coursework with a faculty-guided research experience.

All of UAF’s biology teaching facilities date from the 1970s or earlier. Although there have been some renovations, they have not been adequate to accommodate the 25 percent growth in enrollment over the past decade, ensure the employment competitiveness and competency of Alaska graduates in biological disciplines that are undergoing dramatic changes.

The Life Sciences Facility will provide versatile state-of the-art laboratories to support research and teaching in cell and molecular biology, physiology, infectious diseases and neurobiology; several classrooms, including a 150-seat auditorium; and a centralized instructional and administrative home for the Biology and Wildlife Department. The facility will allow continued growth of life sciences research and academic programs. Growth in the life sciences research and graduate programs (grants and student numbers) is nearly capped now because of space limitations.

Alaskan Student Needs

  • Of the 444 undergraduates majoring in biology and wildlife programs in FY08, close to 75 percent are from Alaska.
     
  • More than 40 percent of all Alaska biology and wildlife students are from outside the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
     
  • Biology courses support students in associated fields such as chemistry, biochemistry and psychology. Biology courses are popular with students in all majors who take them to fulfill the science core curriculum requirement.

Space Needs

Students have been turned away from classes and labs because of inadequate space. This is a problem.

Since 1999, enrollments in biology and wildlife have increased by 25 percent while there has only been a 5.5 percent increase in teaching space, which was achieved through reassigning existing space. UAF’s biological sciences program requires more adequate space for this burgeoning area of studies. Students have been turned away from classes and labs because of inadequate space. For example, BIOL 342 (Microbiology), a course required for pre-med and other related degrees, turns away students due to the small room size for teaching the lab.

Positive Outcomes

Graduates of the UAF biology and wildlife program go on to careers across the state -- and beyond -- in jobs that affect all Alaskans. Our graduates have become physicians, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, physician’s assistants and veterinarians.

We have produced scientists such as David R. Klein and George Schaller who have received national and international recognition for their work in wildlife biology. Our program has trained commissioners for wildlife (Jim Brooks, Ronald Skoog) and natural resources (Bob LeResche) as well as more than 40 other positions in research and management for the state of Alaska, including the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Our graduates hold positions at the U.S. Department of the Interior (National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey) and in private-sector organizations (Audubon, Ducks Unlimited, Defenders of Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund, and ABR, Inc. Environmental Research and Services).


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Reindeer

Community of Origin of Biology and Wildlife Majors from Alaska: Fall 2008

Alaska community map
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[caption below]
Personnel with the Alaska Bird Observatory measure and band migratory birds at the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. Pictured is a slate-colored junco.