Dr. Helena Wisniewski


Dr Helena Wisniewski

Dean Helena S. Wisniewski is the Chief Academic Officer for Graduate education at UAA. As Dean, she has the responsibility for leadership and oversight of all Graduate programs and issues. Dean Wisniewski has administrative management of graduate programs, policies, program review, and program standards. Dr. Wisniewski supervises all elements of the Graduate School. The Graduate School staff, Graduate Academic Board (GAB), Graduate Council, and the Graduate Student Association (GSA) carry out the functions of the Graduate School based on her authority.

Most recently, Dr. Wisniewski spearheaded the competition that eventually led the U.S Dept. of Homeland to select UAA to co-lead a new Maritime Research Center of Excellence. Read more about it in the Green and Gold news article. 

Dr. Wisniewski also serves as Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies. In this capacity, she:

  • facilitates efforts by faculty and administrators to attract external funds in support of research
  • serves as liaison for sponsors and governmental units overseeing research
  • develops institutional guidelines and policies for research and related activies, e.g., misconduct in research, conflict of interest, protection of human and animal subjects; and protection of patent and intellectual property rights, and protection of graduate students and rights to publish research done in collaboration with the private sector
  • develops effective procedures for grant and contract management
  • complies with federal and other regulations affecting research
  • administers internal funds designed to promote research at UAA.

Dr. Wisniewski is also the Chief Executive Officer of Equinox Toys, LLC, a company she founded in 2009 to develop innovative toys using biometrics. She is a special consultant to the Naval Research Advisory Committee, the Senior Scientific Advisory group to the Secretary of the Navy. From August 2004 until October 2008, she was Vice President, Research and Enterprise Development, Stevens Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the Stevens Institute in 2004, Dr. Wisniewski was the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Aurora Biometrics, Inc., a company she founded based on her patented technology. Before 2004, Dr. Wisniewski was a Senior Executive at Lockheed Corporation and a Vice President of the Titan Corporation. She also was Founding Director of the mathematics program at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and held a key position at the CIA.

Dr. Wisniewski is a Director of Smart Trax, Inc. an educational media company, serves on the advisory board to Soar Technology Inc., which develops, and deploys cognitive software to solve complex problems in training, modeling & simulation, robotics and medical informatics and on the board of Kulper and Company, LLC, where she chairs its research committee.

Tel: 907-786-4833


Dr. David Yesner

Associate Dean

Yesner David Associate Dean Cropped Sized

Dean Yesner oversees graduate education policies at UAA. He serves ex-officio on the Graduate Academic Board, and Graduate Council (an advisory board to the Graduate School Dean) and is the designee for the Graduate School dean on various committees and boards at UAA. He serves as the official ombudsman in the first step for resolving graduate issues. Dean Yesner is the preliminary advisor for all new graduate programs at UAA. He has the final approval on all graduate paperwork (except theses) including Leaves of Absence, Graduate Academic Petitions, Graduate Studies Plans, Annual Reports, and Graduate Tuition Awards, among others.

Dr. Yesner has been with UAA since 1987. He was the primary force in the creation of the Master of Arts program in Anthropology at UAA in 1999. He has taught courses in Cultural Ecology, Hunting and Gathering Societies, Biological Anthropology, Natives of Alaska, Old World Anthropology, among others. He has served as faculty in Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Cambridge University, the University of Washington, McGill University, and the University of Southern Maine.

Dr. Yesner received his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in Anthropology and Human Ecology.Dr. Yesner's main research interests are in environmental archaeology, especially zooarchaeology, in ecological anthropology generally, and in hunting and gathering societies. He has worked in various areas of North America, including New England and the Midwest, as well as in Cyprus, but his main areas of interest include the circumpolar region, especially Alaska, the Russian Far East and southern South America. Recent projects have included archaeological excavations in a number of locations in south-central Alaska, the Russian Far East, and Argentine Tierra del Fuego. For additional information please see Dr. Yesner's vitae.

Tel:  907-786-1098


Elisa Mattison Photoshop SizedElisa Mattison, MA


As Director, Ms. Mattison's responsibilities include efforts to design, deliver and improve services that support graduate students from entry to completion of their degrees. This includes oversight of graduate student life at UAA. She collaborates with graduate programs and student organizations to enhance the academic, social, personal, and cultural needs of graduate students. She oversees the day to day management of the Graduate School and the development of recruitment and retention initiatives that promote graduate student success by tracking student milestones in their programs. She is the first advisor with whom most future graduate students interact. Ms. Mattison oversees the design, development and delivery of training programs for graduate students, faculty who mentor graduate students, and staff who work in graduate programs. She serves as director of Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs at UAA and the Graduate Health Insurance Program for graduate assistants. She is also the "go-to" person for thesis advising regarding formatting, electronic submission and training, and thesis process. Ms. Mattison contributes to Graduate Academic Board and Graduate Council.

Ms. Mattison currently serves as President of the Western Association of Graduate Schools (WAGS). As president, she is responsible for hosting the WAGS Annual Meeting in Anchorage in March 2015.

Ms. Mattison has worked for the University of Alaska Anchorage since 2000. Her experience with UAA has included positions as Adjunct Faculty, Enrollment Advisor, Program Coordinator, and Training Manager, in addition to being with the Office of Graduate Studies/Graduate School since 2006. She was Adjunct Faculty in Psychology at Anchorage Community College, and Assistant Director of the Degree Completion Program at Alaska Pacific University. She worked for the Career and Student Employment Services Center and the Office of Financial Aid at Western Michigan University.

Ms. Mattison's graduate degree from Western Michigan University is in Organizational Psychology and her current doctoral research interest is in Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Tel: 907-786-1096