Paula Williams, Ph.D.

Office: Sustainability
Phone: 907-786-1515


On January 5, 2009 I was privileged to become the first Sustainability Director at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. A resident of Alaska since 1985, I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible, river rafting and used to scuba dive. I also enjoy reading, sewing and serving in interest groups such as: Anchorage Citizens Coalition, Anchorage Master Gardeners, Alaska Botanical Gardens, and a permaculture group.


I completed my Interdisciplinary Ph.D. through the University of Alaska Fairbanks and graduated May of 2009. My academic work has focused on the interaction between humans and their environment, specifically on the influences on human perception of change, and on our willingness to adapt. This continues to be my passion, as well as finding ways to motivate people to increase adaptive capacity.

Career History

In a prior life, I was an attorney in Anchorage for about 20 years. During my last eight years as an attorney, I worked for state and municipal agencies that enforce the laws prohibiting discrimination.

Teaching Responsibilites

I teach an Honors College course related to climate change and feel that students should be aware of what's going on so they know how it will impact their lives. The goals of the course are to stimulate critical thinking, to introduce complex systems and understanding of non-linear interactions, to help students develop scholarly writing skills, and to expose students to a systems view of the world from an interdisciplinary perspective. I love teaching and keeping up with the science. 

Research Interests

My dissertation is titled "The Role of Social Paradigm in Human Perception and Response to Environmental Change." My research led naturally to working as Sustainability Director here at UAA because it examines the interactions between the biophysical environment and human social systems, which is also the focus of sustainability

Although the degree was issued by Fairbanks, I completed my coursework and research here at UAA. The last year and a half of work on my dissertation was supported by a fellowship provided by the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) through the National Science Foundation. Prior to receiving the fellowship, I worked as a Research Associate for UAA's Resilience and Adaptive Management (RAM) Group for about two years. Working for the RAM Group allowed me to participate in research investigating the perceptions that people living in small communities in the Norton Sound area have of their subsistence resources and water. While there, I also focused on mining research.




Office Staff and Student Assistants

Jordana Anderson Admin Assistant

Jordana Anderson

Administrative Assistant 
Office Main Line: 907-786-4634

Hello Everyone!

I joined the Office of Sustainability during the spring of 2014 and I enjoy the opportunity to carry my beliefs and efforts in preserving the environment through reducing, reusing, and recycling here at the University of Alaska Anchorage. I promote this purpose everyday on campus by aiding the function of sustainability at UAA, providing office, personnel, budget and marketing support. Thank you for visiting our website and please check out our Facebook page to stay up-to-date on office happenings!


Jennifer Straub UAA Office of Sustainability

Jennifer Straub

Event Coordinator/Research Assistant

Hi, my name is Jennifer and I am a senior in the Psychology degree program.  I joined the office in the summer of 2014 because I believe sustainability is important.  To me, sustainability generates and preserves the surroundings under which people and nature can exist in beneficial harmony, which then fulfills the economic and social requirements of present and future generations.  If you would like to plan, coordinate, or suggest an event through the Office of Sustainability, please feel free to email me at  Thank you!


Taylor Frese-Recycle Director

Taylor Frese

Recycling Director
Office: 907-786-4634

I came to UAA in the summer of 2012 and I am a Natural Sciences major. I joined the Office of Sustainability as a student assistant on the recycling crew in the summer of 2013 and I am now the Recycling Director. I hope to see the recycling effort continue to grow for both our school and community, and I am thrilled to be a part of this effort. Thanks to everyone who does their best to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Jaya Bannarbie-Recycling Crew

Jaya Bannarbie

Recycling Crew Member

Andrea Hackley UAA Recycling Crew

Andrea Hackley

Recycling Crew Member

I am a third year student at UAA studying geological sciences.  I spend my spare time knitting, gardening, playing video games, and hiking.  I grew up in Alaska and I have developed a love for nature and sustainability from my mother.

Aaron Schmidt UAA Recycling Crew

Aaron Schmidt

Recycling Crew Member

I am originally from Alaska; however, I was raised in Washington, so after I graduated high school in 2009, I packed my bags and made my way back North.  My major is computer and networking technology; although, that may change as I gain more diverse experiences in school.  I joined the Office of Sustainability because I felt a need to do something good for my community and I am concerned about the impact we have on our environment.  I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking and gardening, which are things I'd like future generations to enjoy.

Richard Stuller UAA Recycling Crew

Richard Stuller

Recycling Crew Member

I have been a student at UAA since spring of 2013 and I am currently pursuing a B.A. in Criminal Justice.  I joined the Office of Sustainability in the fall of 2014.  I am excited and happy to be a part of the recycling crew, as I get to educate others and help the school do its part in reducing, reusing, and recycling!  One person's footprint may be small, but when we all work together, we can create a huge impact on saving our resources and planet for future generations to enjoy.





Office of Sustainability
Professional Studies Building, Suite 103C
Anchorage, AK 99508
(907) 786-4634

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