About us


Laura Conner

Laura Conner

Primary UArctic Assembly Representative


Dr. Laura Conner is a Research Professor of Science Education at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Her research broadly addresses how people come to identify with science, as well as the value of real objects and experiences in learning. She was formerly the Head of Public Programs at the UA Museum of the North, where she directed the development of exhibits and educational programs.

Conner has led many externally funded initiatives for youth and teachers, both inside and outside the classroom. She holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona. Conner teaches graduate-level courses in science teaching and outreach and is active in University-level service. 


Jessica Black

Jessica Black

Alternate UArctic Assembly Representative

Dr. Black is Gwich’in Dena from the villages of Gwichyaa Zhee (Ft. Yukon) and Toghotthele (Nenana), Alaska. Dr. Black currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Alaska Native Studies, Rural Development and Tribal Governance at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Dr. Black received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW) at UAF and her master’s degree and PhD in Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Her dissertation and current research examine the relationship between governance and well-being among Alaska Native peoples, especially as it pertains to Tribal Stewardship and Cultural Connectivity.

She resides in Fairbanks, Alaska with her family, however, she frequently returns home to Gwichyaa Zhee to hunt, fish, gather and engage in other, important cultural practices.