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September 5, 2023

Research, workforce development and economic growth news stories and other feature articles from the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast, University of Alaska System Office and the UA Foundation. Compiled by the University of Alaska System Office of Public Affairs.

University of Alaska Anchorage

Bristol Bay welcomes medical students as part of rural medicine summer program

The two medical students are working in rural community health as part of ‘RUOP,’ or the Rural, Underserved Opportunities Program through the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The students in the region are part of the WWAMI program. WWAMI stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. It’s a partnership between the University of Washington’s medical school and higher education institutions in each state. Alaska’s WWAMI program partners with the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Alaska ranks third in the country for health professional shortage areas, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration, meaning there aren’t enough primary, dental or mental healthcare providers. There were 324 identified shortage areas for primary care alone in Alaska in 2022.

In June, Governor Dunleavy signed a budget allocating an additional $48,000 to the WWAMI program in Alaska, as well as $2 million to expand its facilities. The program now has funds to add ten students. The decision comes after Dunleavy proposed cutting WWAMI funding in 2019.

Contact: Christina McDermott

Medical student Courtney Stage, PA-C Katie Van Atta, Dr. Ronald Talaga and medical student Michael Kaden-Hoffmann pose for group photo

Medical student Courtney Stage, PA-C Katie Van Atta, Dr. Ronald Talaga and medical student Michael Kaden-Hoffmann. August, 2023. (KDLG photo)

The University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball team and cross-country teams officially get their respective 2023 campaigns underway.

the UAA volleyball team got its 2023 regular season going as well when the Seawolves traveled up to Fairbanks to take part in the Alaska/Hawaii Challenge hosted by UAF and lost their first three matches before picking up their first official win of the season Saturday evening when they beat Hawaii Hilo in five sets.

The UAA cross-country men’s and women’s teams were also in action up at Kincaid for the Seawolf throwdown against instate rival UAF. While Nanooks claimed the top three spots in the women’s division, the Seawolves did the same in the men’s led by junior Coleman Nash who earned GNAC Runner of the Week honors after he clocked in a first-place time 15:06.

Contact: Josh Reed

Alaska Anchorage Gymnastics Team Welcomes Six New Recruits for 2023-2024 Season

Alaska Anchorage gymnastics head coach Marie-Sophie Boggasch has announced that six new student-athletes have committed to compete for the Seawolves in the 2023-24 season.

The newcomers include four true freshmen and two transfers, each bringing their own unique skills and experiences to the team. Coach Boggasch is excited about the talent and potential these new recruits will bring to the program, and fans can look forward to seeing their exceptional performances.

Contact: Austin Osborne

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Fundraising effort for Alaska Indigenous studies center OK’d by UA board 

The state board of regents unanimously approved a fundraising effort at University of Alaska Fairbanks to raise $53 million over three years to build the Troth Yeddha’ Indigenous Studies Center.

The goal is to create the first university space in the nation that is designed with Indigenous education models in mind, Samara Taber, who leads university advancement for the University Alaska Fairbanks, told the regents.

The center will also be a home to the university’s language program, which has grown from three to 12 instructors in Stern’s time at the institution. She said the introductory classes for Inupiaq and Yup’ik languages are full this semester. UAF is the only university in the world to offer bachelor’s degrees in Yup’ik and Inupiaq.

Contact: Claire Stremple

The UAF main campus sign displays the Troth Yeddha' name

A sign at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, seen on Sept. 20. 2022, uses the Lower Tanana name Troth Yeddha’. The name translates roughly to “potato ridge” and refers to the tradition of harvesting wild potatoes on the Fairbanks ridge that now holds the heart of the campus. (Alaska Beacon photo)

AmeriCorps CEO visits Fairbanks, tours Alaska

The leader of the nation’s largest volunteer service took a six-day tour of Alaska this week as the latest in a series of Alaska visits by White House cabinet officials.

AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith spent time in Anchorage, Scammon Bay, Bethel and wrapped up visit with a tour of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“We have a Schools of National Service program and we are talking with UAF becoming a such a school,” Smith said outside Signers Hall Friday afternoon following a meeting with UAF Chancellor Dan White. “We’re really excited with what the University of Alaska Fairbanks is doing with its rural campus extensions and we are thinking about ways we can partner with the programs here.”

Smith’s Alaska visits included meetings in Anchorage with Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom and hosting a few roundtables, presented challenge coins to volunteers and spoke with Alaska Native organizations.

Contact: Jack Barnwell

UAF scientists heading to Greenland for glacier research

University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists will make several trips to Greenland over two years to study how meltwater and the ocean affect glacial ice loss. 

The four-year research project, funded by a $565,000 National Science Foundation grant, will create a traveling museum exhibit about the drivers of Arctic climate change. The exhibit will appear first at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, likely in 2026.

The team will investigate the short- and long-term effect of runoff on outlet glacier flow, how a glacier’s geometry affects its response to runoff, and how variations in runoff speed and speed of movement of the glacier’s terminal area influence each other.

At the study’s conclusion, the researchers will create software that others can use to analyze the effect of runoff and ocean interaction on any of Earth’s glaciers.

 Contact: Martin Truffer

University of Alaska Southeast

UAS fall semester kicks off with a sunny start and increased enrollment

Classes are back in session at the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau as dozens of students could be seen walking across to and from different buildings on campus throughout the first day of the 2023 fall semester last Monday.

According to Palmer, this semester UAS welcomed 1,765 students across all three campuses in total, a 4% increase in enrollment compared to last fall semester.

Along with general enrollment on the upswing, Palmer said UAS saw a 87% increase in students enrolled in the Indigenous programs offered at the different three campuses.

“We’re excited — we really are,” she said. “Our goal is to build on our enrollment, to have more people come and really see the access that we are able to give, and I’m feeling really good. I think it’s a very positive sign.”

Contact: Keni Campbell

UAS students and staff pose with the humpback whale statue at UAS' main campus.

UAS students pose with humpback whale statue on main campus. (UAS photo)

Language matters for Deisleen Ḵwáan yoga and language teacher

Jules is Dakhl’aweidí (Eagle/Killer Whale Clan), from the Deisleen Ḵwáan (Teslin people). She herself started learning her language four years ago. 

She attends the University of Alaska Southeast, where she’s doing a specialized bachelor of arts in Indigenous studies with an emphasis on Alaskan native languages. She’s combined that with a minor in outdoor adventure studies, which she says is a natural fit with her language and Indigenous studies. Being out on the land, connecting and moving your body, and touching the earth. That’s the kind of classroom she feels comfortable in, she says.

It also impacted her decision to incorporate Tlingit language learning into her yoga instruction after she completed yoga teacher training in Bali. She goes into each lesson and teaches five new sounds and two new sentences. She introduces poses by their English names and cuts them out gradually.

Her style has attracted a lot of attention since she started teaching. She has led classes at Adäka Cultural Festival, through the Teslin Tlingit Council and with other organizations.

Contact: Keni Campbell

UAS welding program heats up with new offerings

The University of Alaska Southeast welding program is growing. Assistant Professor of Welding Luke Gibes joined KCAW’s Brooke Schafer to discuss new equipment, welding competitions, and how students can sign up for fall 2023 courses. Listen to the full interview here.

Contact: Keni Campbell

UA System Office

University of Alaska system boasts overall enrollment growth after financial challenges

Student enrollment is up at University of Alaska campuses overall, chancellors told the board of regents at their meeting Thursday.

The news of overall 4.7% growth systemwide comes after a five-year downward trend in student enrollment. College enrollment has declined nationally over the last decade, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regent Karen Purdue said the growth reflects well on President Pat Pitney’s leadership and said there’s still work to do.

“These growths are from a valley,” she said. “What’s reflected here is the confidence of the public in the ability of the university that we didn’t have over the past several years.”

Contact: Jonathon Taylor

a student at UAF reads against a birch tree during fall

A UAF student studies under the coverage of a fall-time birch tree. (UAF photo)

Board of Regents meeting highlights stability, growth, excellence across University System

(JUNEAU, AK) - The University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents focused on system priorities and long-term goals during its August 30-31 meeting this week. Regents discussed the university system’s FY25 budget priorities, progress toward system-wide goals, and recognized staff for their contributions to student success.

The meeting comes as students across the system began fall semester classes, and preliminary numbers show enrollment on track to increase by 4% over last fall. 

“As we enter fall semester, I’m proud to say that the University of Alaska System is strong, and thriving,” Board Chair Ralph Seekins said. “I’ve seen the tireless efforts of faculty and staff on our campuses as they’ve prepared to welcome students this week, and I’m grateful for their dedication. The board is committed to building on our system’s stability and providing a positive fiscal foundation for our students, employees, and the people of Alaska.”

Contact: Jonathon Taylor

The Alaska Maritime Education Consortium (AMEC) partners with Yamaha in hosting a Yamaha Maringe Maintenance Certificate Program

The Alaska Maritime Education Consortium (AMEC), in partnership with Yamaha, hosted a Yamaha Marine Maintenance Certification Program (MCP) Instructor training in Valdez, Alaska August 4-10, 2023.

AMEC will work with these certified instructors to establish outboard motor maintenance and repair programs in their respective regions.The new partnership has already trained eleven instructors from five of the six economic regions.

The Alaska Maritime Education Consortium (AMEC) is a partnership between The University of Alaska (UA) and the Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC), a division of DOLWD. AMEC is supported by Maritime Works, a program of the Alaska Safety Alliance (ASA).

Contact: Mariko Selle

UA System "Did You Know?"

Did you know the University of Alaska System is a major contributor to Alaska’s rapidly expanding Blue Economy?

"The Blue Economy" refers to the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems.

In Alaska, the excitement surrounding mariculture opportunities is growing. UAS is situated perfectly to provide workforce development, research, and experiences that will help empower this burgeoning industry – contributing directly to Alaska’s economy, and the well being of Southeast. 

Learn more about the programs, partnerships and opportunities available across the University of Alaska system in our latest “Did You Know” video.

Contact: Jonathon Taylor

A UAS student helps pull kelp onto a boat

A student in the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Applied Fisheries program helps pull kelp onto a research vessel. (UAS photo)

For more information on the UA Newswire, contact Integrated Media Manager Rebecca Lawhorne at ralawhorne@alaska.edu.