Research

Message From the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies

Welcome to UAA's Research website, which illustrates the tremendous growth in research, creative works, and commercialization at UAA. It features many significant accomplishments with impacts that benefit the welfare of society regionally, nationally and globally—from medical therapies to engineering and scientific advances, and the arts.

Immunotherapy is a ground-breaking treatment for cancer by training the immune system to target cancer cells. Our research team developed an innovative antigen delivery system for immunotherapy using nanoparticles for a more effective treatment.  We are investigating vertebrates that are able to survive for long periods of time in the complete absence of oxygen that can offer insights into cardiac pace-making in conditions of low oxygen pertinent to human pathology.

Multi-disciplinary collaborations among the Colleges of Engineering, Business and Public Policy, and Arts and Sciences have been formed. A Professor of Music teamed with faculty in Computer Science and Business to develop a computer system that assesses a pianist’s skill at sight reading music. Another included the Departments of Theatre and Dance, Psychology, and Art, and community organizations. The project presented a haunting play about child sexual abuse in Alaska, with an empowering conversation between the public, cast members, and counselors to encourage healing.

Capitalizing on its location, UAA is developing solutions to challenges caused by the dynamically changing Arctic environment as it impacts current and future ecosystems and villages. These include models to forecast future erosion rates and shoreline change. Road tests are underway to test a suitable concrete mixture for Arctic roads that is flexible and yet maintains its strength in extreme cold. Work in Antarctica studies the impact of environmental conditions on the physiology and behavior of polar marine mammals.

Universities are a key source for new technology critical to the United States maintaining its lead in innovation and economic development. UAA’s patent portfolio has dramatically increased since FY11, including the launch of startup companies — one was awarded a “Best University Startup” in a national competition. To encourage innovation, UAA established the “Patent Wall of Fame,” and organized and hosted the first World IP Day in Alaska.

UAA is the largest university in the University of Alaska System with 18,000 students. It is a doctoral granting institution and Alaska’s Health University. UAA’s research expenditures continue to increase, and external funding had increased by 23% from 2013 to 2016. The Innovate Awards have reached a 6:1 return on research investment through external federal funding. A major award from DHS for the Arctic Domain Awareness Center, made it the first time that an institution in Alaska was chosen to lead a DHS Center of Excellence. Our excellent infrastructure supports our research growth and includes the new state-of-the-art Engineering Building.

Dr. Helena S. Wisnewski, FNAI
Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies
Dean of the Graduate School

Learn more in the most recent issue of Innovation Frontier.

RESEARCH AND COMMERCIALIZATION OVERVIEW

The UAA Research and Commercialization trend is upward. UAA is experiencing significant growth in research, creative works, and commercialization. We are pursuing a strategic approach to fostering, supporting, and expanding faculty and student research efforts and commercialization by creating a climate of innovation and collaboration.

Total grant awards have been increasing. Since 2013, external funding has increased by 23%. In FY16 total grant awards increased to $40.2M up from $38M in FY15, and our expenditures are still increasing.  The pie chart below provides an example of the breadth of federal funding sources for UAA activities in FY17, which reflects a diverse funding portfolio.

  FY17 Federal Awards  

Chart 1 - FY17 Federal Awards

The Win Rate for FY17 to date is 46%, which is significantly above the national average of 25% for the same federal agencies. 

The INNOVATE Awards are internally funded, competitive awards designed to encourage new research, creative works, and innovation with a return on investment of just over 6-to-1. In addition, several INNOVATE projects have resulted in new patents and startup businesses.

The Patent Portfolio is experiencing dramatic growthSince FY11, the number of invention disclosures has increased to 52 up from 2 in FY11. To monetize the invention disclosures, UAA has increased the number of patent application filings and copyright filings to 60, up from 1 in FY11 and 13 patents have been issued, up from 0 in FY11. UAA has formed four startup companies:  Zensor, Arctic Heat Technology (formerly CFT Solutions), Cogniceutic Solutions, and Rhizoform.

The Alaska Accelerator Fund has now invested a total of $300,000 in Arctic Heat Technology (formerly CFT Solutions) in three tranches. Arctic Heat Technologies provides an innovative and cost-effective approach to revolutionizing deicing and snow removal using carbon fiber tapes. Additional investments are welcome.

The Vice Provost for Research submitted the UAA startups for a national competition. In this national competition among 200 university startups, Rhizoform won “Best University Startup” and participated in University Startup Demo Day at the US Congress. This event included a pitch to venture firms and corporations held at the Rayburn Building, meetings with our Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Young, and a demo/trade show in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Building.

Alaskan Congressman Don Young and Rhizform, Sept 2016

Congressman Don Young, Dr. Helena Wisniewski, and Dr. Philippe Amstislavski at University Demo Day, September 20, 2016.

Senator Lisa Murkowski and Rhizoform, Sept 2016

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski, and Dr. Philippe Amstislavski at University Demo Day, September 20, 2016

Senator Dan Sullivan and Rhizoform, Sept 2016

Senator Dan Sullivan, Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski, and Dr. Philippe Amstislavski at University Demo Day, September 20, 2016

 

Centers and Institutes at UAA

Centers and Institutes at the University of Alaska Anchorage are devoted to special concerns and opportunities associated with northern populations. The State's vast resources and challenges unique to Alaska are central to their sponsored programs and research. The Centers and Institutes address concerns of Anchorage and Alaskan communities as well as those related to the national and international community. This is a list of Institutes and Centers that support UAA's mission in coordination with our colleges and schools.

  • The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER)   enhances the well-being of Alaskans and others through non-partisan research that helps people understand social and economic systems and supports informed public and private decision-making. ISER is Alaska's oldest public policy research organization, founded soon after Alaska became a state. ISER maintains the state's largest economic database and forecasts population and employment growth.

  • Environment and Natural Resources Institute (ENRI) is a premier research unit with state-of-the-art research space. ENRI has initiatives in Ecosystem Studies and Conservation Biology, Earth and Climate Processes, and Human Ecology and Coupled Human-Environment Interactions.  The Alaska State Climate Center (ASCC)also falls under the purview of ENRI.

  • Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies (ICHS) provides support and coordination for health research, information and training. Working closely with faculty throughout the University of Alaska system, ICHS provides technical assistance and support to increase the capacity within the state to address the health needs of all Alaskans. The Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies was created by the Alaska State Legislature in 1988 (AS 14.40.088) to develop new solutions to health problems in Alaska and the north. The Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) is also housed within ICHS.

  • Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services (CBHRS)   is a workgroup of researchers, providers, and educators that is dedicated to the behavioral and physical health of all members of our community. The Center provides a variety of services that are helpful to care providers, administrators, and policy makers in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, physical health, and criminal justice.

  • Biomedical Program - WWAMI Medical School is a collaborative medical school among universities in five northwestern states (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) and the University of Washington School of Medicine. The Alaska WWAMI Program began at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (as WAMI) in 1971. The program moved to the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1989. 

  • The UAA Justice Center, established by the Alaska legislature in 1975, has a mandate to provide statewide justice-related education, research and service.  The Justice Center is an interdisciplinary unit that provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional education; conducts research in the areas of crime, law, and justice; and provides service to government units, justice agencies, and community organizations throughout urban and rural Alaska to promote a safe, healthy, and just society.  The Justice Center publishes the Alaska Justice Forum, a research journal focusing on justice and legal issues in Alaska. The Center houses the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (AJSAC) and the Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC)

  • Alaska Geriatric Education Center (AKGEC)   was established in 2003 with funding from the Health Resources and Service Administration's Bureau of Health Professions; the national network of GECs is supported by the National Association of Geriatric Education Centers. AKGEC is developing geriatric training opportunities and curriculum that celebrates Alaska's unique history and cultural diversity. The Center works closely with the National Resource Center for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian Elders and is developing several training modules focusing on Alaska Native Elder issues. AKGEC is also working closely with the Stanford Geriatric Education Center to collaborate on training and curriculum development.

  • Alaska Center for Rural Health - Alaska's AHEC (ACRH) was created in 1987 by rural health care providers, educators, and administrators. The AHEC enables Alaska to institutionalize a statewide university-industry partnership focused on strengthening our health workforce.

  • Alaska Small Business Development Center (SBDC) The Alaska Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides free consulting services and low-cost educational programs to entrepreneurs interested in starting or growing their small business. The Alaska SBDC business advisors work with entrepreneurs in confidential, one-on-one sessions in the areas of management, marketing, sales, finance, accounting and other disciplines required for small business growth, expansion and innovation.

  • Center for Addressing Health Disparities through Research and Education (CAHDRE) is the new National Institutes in Health Exploratory Center of Excellence that is coalescing health pathway programs to maximize their value and to catalyze the creation of new programs.  Goals of the Center include: 1) collaborating with others to encourage and support students, especially those from underrepresented minorities into health careers; 2) informing students and faculty about health disparity issues in Alaska; 3) assisting health students to develop skills in assessing and using evidence to improve their practice; 4) mentoring students interested in pursuing careers in health research; and 5) infusing an orientation toward exploration from elementary through post secondary years.

 

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