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2017 UAS Faculty Excellence Awards Announced

Awards presented include those for Teaching, Research, Adjunct Instruction, Faculty Advising, and Service.

Date of Press Release: May 11, 2017

Adjunct Instruction Award: Roby Littlefield, Adjunct Instructor of Alaskan Language, Sitka
Adjunct Instruction Award: Roby Littlefield, Adjunct Instructor of Alaskan Language, Sitka

The University of Alaska Southeast is pleased to announce that the following esteemed faculty have been selected as this year’s Faculty Excellence Award winners.

TEACHING AWARD – Reid Brewer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Fisheries Technology, Sitka

Students, peers and staff all agree that Dr. Reid Brewer is a dedicated and devoted mentor, is extremely generous with his time, and leads by example. Through his effort and leadership, the Fisheries Technology program at UAS has tripled in size in the four years under his oversight.  He is known for his iPad program, and likewise for his tireless efforts to gain adequate bandwidth for his distance students.  A student said, “He finds a way to help you enjoy what you are learning and keeps you interested in any subject. Professor Brewer was also available any time day or night to help me with any questions or concerns I had about assignments, tests or projects.“  A colleague described Dr. Brewer’s qualities – a dedication to cultivating a dynamic program where students always come first, his ability to reach students with a number of different backgrounds, and his willingness to take time to introduce the community to his passion for fisheries science.

ADJUNCT INSTRUCTION AWARD – Roby Littlefield, Adjunct Instructor of Alaskan Language, Sitka

Since 1993, Roberta ‘Roby’ Littlefield has dedicated herself to learning and teaching Tlingit at the UAS Sitka Campus.  Her students benefit from her passion to restore and retain the Native language and culture, and the respect she has earned from the Native community.  Roby’s prior experience with youth in the local school district plays a large part in her sensitivity to the learning needs of her students and shapes her teaching style and interactive approach when teaching this endangered and very difficult language.  She is known for helping translate the first children’s story written entirely in Tlingit, “The Story of the Town Bear and Forest Bear” (authored by Ernestine Hayes). To quote from a couple nomination letters, “Roby Littlefield, through her decades of effort, connects Tlingit learning to more than a generation of UAS students and Sitka community members.” And, “If not for her efforts in Sitka, our local Tlingit students and adults may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn our Tlingit language.”

FACULTY ADVISING AWARD – Leslie Gordon, M.S., Associate Professor, Health Information Management, Sitka

Leslie Gordon has been with UAS for more than ten years, and has built the UAS Sitka Health Information Management (HIM) program into a “vibrant, valuable, externally accredited program.” As a volunteer and member of many associations and regulatory organizations linked to HIM, she is recognized for her significant and sustained contributions to her field. She is known for keeping track of her students.  She knows what courses they need, when they need them and what barriers they might face. Leslie designs and adjusts her courses based on student evaluations and does what it takes so that students are prepared for the ‘rigors of the workforce.’ She has an open-door policy, and keeps in close, regular communication with her students and helps them move towards completion in a timely manner.  One student nominator stated, “Leslie has always gone out of her way to express her support for me. I have always felt grounded with Leslie’s unofficial mentorship and guidance, readily available anytime I asked.”   

RESEARCH AWARD – Brian Buma, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Forest Ecosystem Ecology, School of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Brian Buma is known for his outstanding research record since arriving at UAS in the fall of 2013. Brian has secured over $600,000 in funding for University-led projects, and over $20,000 for his travel and research activities. In this academic year, his publication accomplishments include co-authoring ten papers in highly respected peer-reviewed journals such as Global Change Biology, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and Ecology. He is the first author of six of those.  Brian is currently involved in several projects: NASA-EPSCoR-funded carbon modeling; yellow cedar ecology; and landslide risk assessment modeling relating to the 2015 landslide in Sitka.  He also provides field research opportunities for UAS undergraduate students through the URECA program.  His students and colleagues commented, “. . .  despite being a very successful academic researcher with a keen intellect, he is down-to-earth, approachable, and easy to work with.” And “Brian is a fabulous teacher, with deep insights, global interest, and it’s clear that he stimulates the curiosity of his students.” You can see other interesting information about his research work at

SERVICE AWARD – Math Trafton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English, Sitka

Dr. Math Trafton has been teaching for UAS at the Sitka Campus for over three years.  While the words ‘quiet and effective’ are most often spoken to describe him, others refer to him as hard-working, enthusiastic and dedicated.  Some of his many service responsibilities include membership on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the Provost’s Assessment Committee, and Tidal Echoes.  He is also appreciated for his efforts to coordinate the Humanities shared degree program (specifically course rotation) and is noted for ‘quietly and competently’ updating all the Student Learning Outcomes for English – a very large task.  The community youth know him for offering such fun creative writing projects as “The Art of the Love Letter” and the “Ghost Story Workshop” and most recently he escorted students to Cordova for the state competition of Future Problem Solving Program International. His peer’s applaud and praise him for his efforts saying: “When asked to take on a responsibility, task, committee, anything, he happily says yes and volunteers his time.” And, “Math is a proven leader on the Sitka campus; he is quiet and effective in conveying his willingness to help, and to help others succeed.”

Learn more about the University of Alaska Southeast and its excellent faculty at

Press Release Contact

Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
(907) 796-6509