Staff Spotlight: Jenn Pedersen

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Jenn working from home surrounded by her cats and dogs
Typical WFH day for Jenn and her animals

Meet the person making a transformative difference in student-centered learning at UAF. Ask Jenn what she’s passionate about and it’s obvious it’s education – plus malamutes and cute shoes.

Q: What do you do at eCampus?

A: I have the privilege of serving as the executive director of eCampus.

Q: How do you work with students?

A: I don’t typically work directly with students on a regular basis; however much of what I do as executive director has a direct impact on students. For example, on any given day, I work collaboratively with academic leadership across the university on initiatives to modernize the student experience and revitalize academic programs. That sounds kind of stuffy and business-like, but it’s actually really fun! We get to be innovative and think creatively about what could be and then get busy redesigning what education in Alaska looks and feels like.

Q: How can students connect with you?

A: I have an open door policy – literally and figuratively! If you happen to be on campus, my office is in the Bunnell building in suite 131; if my door is open, pop in and say hi anytime. Students can email me directly at or call my office at 907.455.2078.

Q: What do you like about working at UAF eCampus?

A: My colleagues. I might be the slightest bit biased but eCampus is the best department at UAF to work in! I laugh so hard it hurts, daily! I work with the most inspiring people – they are creative, talented, intelligent, and dedicated. They continuously challenge me, probably without even realizing it. I couldn’t ask for a better work environment.

Jenn's three malamutes
Jenn’s malamutes Starbuck, Chiana, D’Argo (top to bottom)

Q: What’s your favorite TV show or one you’d never get tired of rewatching?

A: How about a genre? I’m a fool for anything science fiction. So much so that all my pets have always been named for characters from syfy shows. When my kids were little they grew up with a cat named Jack and a malamute named Teal’c (Stargate SG1). When I first moved back to Alaska I came with a couple of malamutes, D’Argo and Chiana and a rescue kitty named Rygel (Farscape). And my newest baby puppy, another giant malamute, needed a big name to grow into so Kara “Starbuck” Thrace joined the family (BattleStar Galactica). If it’s syfy, I’m probably binging it at some point, and there’s precious little I would pass by if I’m flipping channels. But I’ll probably always rewatch every single episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Q: What’s one thing you’re currently trying to make a habit?

A: I’m not a morning person and have always envied those who are. If it’s a “good day” my dogs let me sleep in until maybe 6am? I grudgingly get up and tend to be pretty sluggish for a decent amount of time. My attempt at a habit – getting up early enough in the morning to use that first cup of coffee to read something “just for fun.” I love to read but I don’t usually make time for reading novels. I reminded myself over the holiday break how much I enjoy the intersection between murder mysteries and psychological thrillers (13 novels between Christmas and New Years). Maybe if I give myself something fun to do first thing in the morning it’ll make getting up at an unreasonable hour (really is anything before 9am reasonable-it shouldn’t be?!?) something to look forward to?

Q: What’s your favorite topic to learn about?

A: I’m an educational psychologist and like all of those in the field of educational psychology, I’m pretty passionate about student success and using psychological science to improve teaching and learning. Higher education today is a complex system that even before the pandemic looked quite a bit different than when I was a student – it’s an ever evolving field.  We are always seeking innovative instructional practices and identifying methods to help students learn more effectively. One of my goals as a professor is to instill a love of lifelong learning in my students; it’s probably a fair answer to say my favorite topic to continuously learn about is learning itself!


  • Karina Gonzales-Smith

    Communications Manager
    Karina has worked in higher education for over 14 years. Her passion for learning began at an early age when she learned how to speak English after moving from the tropic to the Arctic. Since then Karina has moved from one classroom to another — on campus, online, or overseas. She’s an alumna of UAF and UAA where she studied biology, psychology, and public health. Karina currently teaches for the Allied Health program in the UAF College of Rural and Community Development. She deeply values connecting with people, and her role as Communications Manager allows her to be an authentic, creative, and supportive champion of equity in education.

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