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Current UAS News Releases

Use of University Research on DNA in Salmon Monitoring Could Result in Savings for State

Each year wild salmon return to the streams in which they were born to spawn and die. Salmon fishery managers must ensure that adequate numbers of fish return each year to spawn and produce offspring for future harvest. It is expensive and labor intensive to count returning salmon, especially in remote streams.

Researchers at the University of Alaska Southeast, Auke Bay Laboratories, Oregon State University, the UK and China have found that salmon DNA collected in water samples from Auke Creek can be used to infer the number of salmon passing upstream to spawn. Two of the authors on the published paper who contributed to the research are former UAS Biology students now in graduate school, Josh Russell and Donovan Bell. Russell is currently enrolled in the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences program, and Bell is in the biology graduate program at the University of Montana.

This form of DNA, termed “environmental DNA” or “eDNA”, can be collected from water samples. Water samples are then filtered and probed using molecular genetic techniques to quantify the amount of DNA belonging to each salmon species, providing insights into the number of salmon upstream.

In this study, salmon entering Auke Creek were counted by hand by UAS undergraduates and National Marine Fisheries Service employees. Water samples were then collected from Auke Creek and the eDNA from coho and sockeye salmon in water samples was quantified to see whether it predicted the number of hand-counted salmon.

The researchers report in a paper just published in Molecular Ecology Resources that simple models combining eDNA counts and stream flow accurately detected pulses in coho and sockeye salmon as they migrated upstream to spawn. The upshot for salmon management in Alaska is that eDNA collection from water samples may provide a cheap means to track the abundance of salmon returning to spawn in creeks where other survey methods are logistically challenging or prohibitively expensive. This method of monitoring salmon runs could save the State of Alaska a great deal of money over existing methods. Future efforts will be directed at determining whether these findings hold in locations beyond Auke Creek.

View more about Biology & Marine Biology programs on the UAS website or call (907) 796-6100.

Contact: Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
Phone: (907) 796-6509

UAS Chancellor Congratulates New CBJ Assembly Member: Alicia Hughes-Skandijs

UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield congratulates UAS graduate Alicia Hughes-Skandijs upon her appointment to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, filling the vacancy left by newly-elected state Senator Jesse Kiehl.

“While I know that there were a number of talented applicants for the Assembly seat, I was very pleased to see that a distinguished UAS graduate received the appointment,” Caulfield said. “Alicia graduated from UAS in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. She also excelled in theatre and art courses. Importantly, she was our 2010 Juneau Campus Student Commencement Speaker—a high honor that is awarded to our top students.”

A key part of UAS’ mission is student success and educating those who understand the importance of giving back to their community. The selection of Hughes-Skandijs as a new Assembly representative is a positive example of a next generation of community leaders stepping up to help Juneau develop and be an inviting place to live, work, and study. Chancellor Caulfield added: “Alicia’s willingness to take on this new responsibility shows others how they can give back to their community. She is a positive role model for our students and new graduates—demonstrating that you absolutely can make a difference in our community. Congratulations to Alicia on her new leadership role.”

Contact: Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
Phone: (907) 796-6509

Ronalda Cadiente-Brown Promoted to Associate Vice Chancellor of Alaska Native Programs

Ronalda Cadiente-Brown (photo credit Keni Campbell)

Ronalda Cadiente Brown, M.A., has accepted the position of Associate Vice Chancellor for Alaska Native Programs at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). As part of her duties, she will continue to serve as Director of the PITAAS program—Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska’s Schools. In her expanded role, she will report directly to Chancellor Rick Caulfield and provide executive-level leadership at UAS in advancing programs and services supporting Alaska Native students. She will also serve as a vital link to Alaska Native tribes and corporations, school districts, and other stakeholders in enhancement of Alaska Native programs and services across the entire UA system.

Cadiente Brown grew up in Juneau and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Pacific University with the goal of becoming a high school counselor. She earned a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Teacher Education at Stanford University.

Ms. Cadiente Brown, who is of Tlingit and Filipino heritage, has dedicated her career toward systems improvement for student engagement, most recently serving as Assistant Dean in the UAS Alaska College of Education. She is a distinguished educator who began her career with Portland Public Schools as an Indian Education specialist prior to returning home where she served as an administrator for Juneau Public Schools for over 28 years. Ronalda’s professional experience includes Indian Studies Program Director, where she led an Indigenous curriculum project that was adopted by the district and received a federal Showcase Award by the U.S. Department of Education. She also served as a Middle School Assistant Principal, Alternative High School Principal, and leader of a dedicated team of teachers in designing a credit recovery model that increased student graduation rates. She served in the district’s central office as program coordinator of federal grants, including a Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative with multi-community partnerships and K-12 curriculum and teacher training projects. At UAS she has served as PITAAS program director for over seven years.

“Ronalda has provided exemplary leadership at UAS in the realm of teacher education. With the recent departure of Vice Chancellor Joe Nelson, it was clear that we needed her leadership talents at the top executive level to maintain momentum in expanding programs for success of Alaska Native students,” said UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield. “Ronalda will continue to be engaged in supporting teacher education, but in her new role she’ll be part of our Executive Cabinet and be in a position to advocate for innovative programs and partnerships that are essential to meeting our mission. I’m very grateful that she’s agreed to take on this new assignment.”

In taking on her new position, Cadiente Brown commented: ”I look forward to contributing my perspective and experience within an organization that strives to meet the academic needs of our students and state. It is a privilege to be invited to serve an institution whose greatest attribute is its dedicated faculty, staff, and leadership.”

Contact: Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
Phone: (907) 796-6509

SHI, UAS Launch New Scholarships, Opportunities for Aspiring Teachers, Administrators

SHI President Rosita Worl, Ph.D., and UAS Chancellor Richard Caulfield, Ph.D., at a recent ceremony to sign a new memorandum of agreement to partner on the PITAAS program. Photo by Lyndsey Brollini, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Initiative to fund Native language and culture programming for PITAAS students under new MOA

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) are offering new scholarships and opportunities to Alaska Native students enrolled in the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools program, known as PITAAS.

SHI and UAS are offering the initiatives under a new memorandum of agreement through which the institute will be a full partner of PITAAS, a program founded by the university in 2000 to grow the number of Alaska Native teachers and administrators and improve educational opportunities for Alaska Native K-12 students.

Through the program, which is funded by a federal grant from the Alaska Native Education Program awarded to SHI, the partners will offer tuition waivers to Alaska Native freshmen and sophomore students who are interested in PITAAS for certain language and culture classes, said SHI President Rosita Worl. The tuition of PITAAS junior, senior, graduate and Ph.D. students is already supported by the program.

“Our end goal is to improve the success of Alaska Native students, and we know they do better academically when their languages and cultures are incorporated into schools. Having Alaska Native educators who are knowledgeable in those areas is a key part of that,” Worl said.

“We're excited to partner with SHI in this expanded effort,” said UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield. “This partnership is significant, not only for the support of students in our teacher and administrator preparation programs, but for the tremendous number of Alaska students they will impact in the span of their careers as educators and role models."

The priorities under the new partnership, called PITAAS VII, are to:

  • Support Alaska Native students and educators for initial or advanced certification or degrees in education or Indigenous language and culture
  • Support professional development activities for educators, including PITAAs scholars and university faculty, on issues affecting Alaska Native students
  • Revitalize Alaska Native languages and cultures
  • Offer career preparation activities that enable Alaska Native pre-service teachers in the PITAAS program an opportunity to gain valuable work experience as well as guided education experiences with Alaska Native educators in SHI's annual Latseen Leadership Academy
  • SHI and UAS also will launch a Teacher of Distinction program, which will include an award ceremony and monetary prize for an outstanding teacher. The program also will fund SHI’s annual lecture series and the UAS oratory competition and Native graduation ceremony at UAS.

Tuition Waivers

Alaska Native freshmen and sophomore students who are interested in becoming a teacher or administrator in Alaska, are enrolled in a qualifying UAS course and have a 2.0 cumulative GPA are eligible to apply for tuition waivers for up to eight credits in their freshmen and sophomore years through the following courses:

Tuition Waiver Eligibility
Subject Course Title Credits
AKL S104 Tlingit II 1
AKL S106 Beginning Tlingit II 4
AKL S206 Intermediate Tlingit II 4
AKL S350 Tlingit Oral Literature 3
AKL S193P Conversational Tsimshian 1
AKL S393 Advanced Tsimshian II 4
AKL S241 Native Oratory 1
ART S263 Northwest Coast Native Art History & Culture 3
ANTH 475 Alaska Native Social Change 2

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

Links: PITAAS Flyer

Contact: Ronalda Cadiente-Brown
University of Alaska Southeast
Phone: (907) 796-6058

Contact: Amy Fletcher
Sealaska Heritage Institute
Phone: (907) 586-9116

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