Geist Fund

Photo by Charles Keim
Otto William  Geist  (1888-1963) was a German emigre who literally worked his way across the Lower 48 States until finally landing in Alaska in 1923. Soon after arriving in the state,  Geist befriended pioneering biologists Olaus and Margaret Murie who taught him how to collect and prepare biological specimens and nurtured his growing interests in natural history. Geist soon became acquainted with Charles Bunnell, who had just been appointed as the first president of the fledgling University of Alaska (then called the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines) in Fairbanks. At Bunnell’s behest, he sent Geist  throughout the state of Alaska collecting archaeological, ethnographic, and natural history objects for a new museum - today known as the University of Alaska Museum of the North. Over several decades, Geist collected extensively throughout the state, amassing important collections of Pleistocene (Ice Age) mammals, archaeological and ethnological collections, and natural history specimens that form the core of the museum today. Geist returned home to Germany for the last year of his life and passed away in 1963 at the age of 74. 
Before he died, Otto Geist gifted most of his estate to the University of Alaska. In 1963 the Otto William Geist Endowment was created with one of its main purposes being “…to provide funds for scholarship or fellowship grants for students majoring in anthropology, archaeology or paleontology”. Since then, this scholarship has assisted many UAF students in accomplishing their Master's and Dissertation projects.  

Departments: Archaeology, Earth Sciences

Application Deadline: March 22, 2024

Award: For 2024, individual awards will be considered up to $3,500

Contact: Dr. Joshua Reuther, Curator of Archaeology,