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!


Waverli Rainey Image

Waverli Rainey

Event Coordinator/Research Assistant

Hello there!

I’m a junior majoring in International Studies and a minor in Women Studies and I joined the Office of Sustainability in December of 2013. Through my studies here at UAA, I have developed a passion for sustainability, especially when it comes to social sustainability and environmental justice issues. My roommates and I are committed to buying fair trade, organic, or local products whenever we have the opportunity to do so. I’m excited to join the crew by assisting in planning events and other research projects that support sustainability in its various forms.


Taylor Frese-Recycle Director

Taylor Frese

Recycle Director
Office: 907-786-4634

I came to UAA in the summer of 2012 and 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 am now the Recycle 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!

Ramila Gurung-Recycle Crew Member

Ramila Gurung

Recycle Crew Member

I am currently pursuing a BS in Nursing. I started working at the UAA Office of Sustainability as a student assistant in the fall of 2013. Working as a recycle crew member has been an opportunity to save the environment through recycling, reusing, and conserving the resources we have. I enjoy working with the crew, and I am glad to contribute my effort to save our planet earth.



Conor Cushing

Recycle Crew Member

I am a Pre-Med major and believe that "sustainability" means working every day to save what resources we can. My work with the Office of Sustainability contributes to saving the planet, one day at a time.





Office of Sustainability
Professional Studies Building, Suite 103C
Anchorage, AK 99508

Follow us on Facebook!