Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program’s assistant director Dr. Michele Yatchmeneff recently accepted a position as the executive director of Alaska Native Education and Outreach for University of Alaska Anchorage. In this role, Dr. Yatchmeneff says she will, “work toward making UAA the best Indigenous university in the world!”
“I was impressed by Dr. Yatchmeneff’s clearly articulated vision for this new position at UAA and by her understanding of how this role fits into the university’s mission,” said UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. “She brings a breadth of experience and expertise that will help us continue to support student success and maintain an equitable and fulfilling learning environment for all students.”
In her role as ANSEP’s assistant director, Dr. Yatchmeneff has been a faculty advisor to more than 2,500 students in ANSEP’s longitudinal model of education. Dr. Yatchmeneff was the first Alaska Native female engineering professor in UAA’s Department of Civil Engineering. She is currently an associate professor in the department where she has spent the past six years as a researcher.
Dr. Yatchmeneff’s work has earned awards from the National Science Foundation and other distinguished research organizations. Her work with ANSEP has not only had a tremendous impact on Alaska Native students, but also an impact on Alaska’s communities. Her current research concentrates on belongingness, Alaska Native education, preparation and retention. In this new role, Dr. Yatchmeneff will work across the entire UAA community and will have the opportunity to apply her expertise for the benefit of all UAA campuses and students.
“I am passionate about Alaska Native students, faculty, and staff success. In this new role, I get to bring all the stakeholders together and work at all levels to promote UAA's strategic plan,” said Dr. Yatchmeneff. “I also get to focus on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Alaska Natives at UAA.”
Dr. Yatchmeneff is of Unangax̂ (Aleut) descent and grew up in rural villages along Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Before earning her Bachelor of Science in civil engineering, Master of Science in engineering management and doctorate in engineering education, Dr. Yatchmeneff began her STEM education as an ANSEP student. As an ANSEP student she participated in the University Success component where undergraduate students are co-enrolled in classes, participate in study groups, have opportunities for professional mentorship, complete research projects, take part in summer internships and get acquainted with peers at social activities.
“I found that, in addition to academic college readiness, ANSEP provides a sense of community and emotional support that prepares students for higher education,” said Dr Yatchmeneff. “A leading factor in Alaska Natives pursuing STEM degrees is feeling a sense of belonging and acceptance. While pursuing my doctorate in engineering education, I became incredibly passionate about finding a better way to help other Alaska Native students succeed in STEM education. ANSEP helped me achieve my dreams and I hope I’m inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders, too.”
As executive director of Alaska Native Education and Outreach at UAA, Dr. Yatchmeneff will play a vital role in UAA's 2025 strategic plan. One of the main components of that plan is to embrace diversity and inclusion by increasing student, staff and faculty diversity.
Read more about the UAA strategic plan at www.uaa.alaska.edu/about/initiative/uaa-2025/.