About us

Mission Statement

At the University of Alaska Fairbanks, URSA supports, develops and institutionalizes UAF's diverse and robust programs of undergraduate research and creative scholarship. At all levels, URSA aims to improve skills in critical thinking and communication and to engender a culture of life-long learning among all students, as well as enhance preparation and education of students who will fill the needs of Alaska’s 21st century workforce and society.

URSA is UAF’s resource for the development and promotion of experiential learning activities that engage undergraduate students to support UAF’s goal to become a leading student-focused research university. Building on existing efforts and capacities, URSA enables UAF students to pursue varying levels of research engagement from a single credit of first-year seminar to independent scholarly investigations or a senior thesis including BFA exhibit or performance

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Trent Sutton, Ph.D.

Trent Sutton, Ph.D.

URSA Director

Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity

Trent is a Professor of Fisheries Biology and an Associate Dean in the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. 

Trent completed his undergraduate education in Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University, and received a M.S. in Biological Sciences from Michigan Technological University and a Ph.D. in Fisheries Sciences from Virginia Tech. Prior to coming to UAF in 2007, Trent held faculty positions at both Lake Superior State University (1996-2001) and Purdue University (2001-2007). 


Marie-Sylvestre Olesen

Marie-Sylvestre Olesen

URSA Coordinator

Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity

Bunnell 301


Marie manages the URSA awards process, organizes events, maintains the student tracking system and provides assistance for all URSA activities. She received a M.Sc. in Responsible Tourism Management from Greenwich University in Medway, U.K. 




URSA Advisory Board

The URSA Advisory Board meets once each semester during the academic year.  It provides a forum for formulating advice and making recommendations to the URSA Director regarding all aspects of the URSA Program.
The board consists of faculty from each of the Universities Schools and Colleges. Faculty serve on the Advisory Board for 2 years.

Members for academic year 2020-2021 include:

Ana Aguilar-Islas
Associate Professor, Chemical Oceanography

Elaine Drew
Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Brian Ellingson
Program Coordinator
Associate Professor
Process Technology Programs, CTC

Alex Fitts
Vice-Provost and Accreditation Liaison Officer

Claudia Ihl
NW Campus



Steffi Ickert-Bond
Professor of Botany, Curator of Herbarium

Ute Kaden
Associate Professor 
School of Education

Greg Kahoe
Term Assistant Professor
School of Education

Peggy Keiper
Director, Sport and Recreation Business Assistant Professor
Sport and Recreation Business
(907) 474-5905

Sun Woo Kim
Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering



Charles Mason
Professor, Journalism

Jon Nachtigal
Sport Management
(907) 474-7916

Anshul Pandya
Assistant Professor, Biosciences, College of Rural Studies and Community Development
Chuckchi Campus, 907-442-3400, ext. 221

Sveta Stuefer
Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
463 Duckering Building

Dave Valentine
Professor of Forest Soils
309 O'Neill Bldg, 907-474-7614



URSA Review Board

The URSA Review Board consists of faculty from all across UAF. All faculty members are eligible to participate. Each student application is reviewed by four faculty members. Current members may participate in one or all of the review sessions each academic year. If you are interested in participating, please contact the URSA office.

The members for 2020-21 include:

Ana Aguilar-Islas
Maher Al-Badri
Jungho Baek
Bahareh Barati
Nathan Belz
Andrea Bersamin
Cam Carlson
Rich Carr
Cheng-Fu Chen
Ross Cohen
Wendy Croskrey
Marina Cuzovic-Severn
Margaret Darrow
Jan Dawe
David Denkenberger

Elaine Drew
Devin Drown
Daryl Farmer
Greg Finstad
Alex Fitts
Javier Fochesatto
Jennifer Guerard
Brian Hemphill
Kara Hoover
Falk Huettmann
Sun Woo Kim
Ilana Kingsley
Cecile Lardon
Jingqiu Mao
Dan Mann

Wendy Martelle
Charles Mason
Mario Muscarella
Ryan Oliver
Jen Peterson
Terry Reilly
Joshua Reuther
Eve Ryan
Jeremy Speight
Lisa Strecker
Sveta Stuefer
Renate Wackerbauer
Peter Webley
Sveta Yamin-Pasternak