Cikigaq-Irasema Ortega is a tenure track associate professor of science education at the UAA College of Education. Born in Madison Wisconsin to Venezuelan parents; she is of Wayuu descent, the Indigenous group that inhabits the Alta Goajira territory on Western Venezuela and Eastern Colombia. It was her passion for preparing new teachers to serve the academic and language proficiency needs of linguistically diverse students that lead her to earn her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University.
Dr. Ortega is a community engaged educator and the principal investigator of the Alaska Native teacher preparation program at University of Alaska College of Education. Her research interests include the intersection of Indigenous epistemologies, culture, and language and the role this intersection plays on language revitalization efforts in immersion settings. She also explores the preparation and induction support mechanisms for Alaska Native preservice elementary teachers who teach in urban and rural settings.