Jelena Porsanger is head of the Sámi University College. She is a Skolt Sámi, one of the Eastern Sámi groups in the borderland between Finland, North-West Russia and Norway.
She received her doctoral degree in the history of religion and Sámi research from the University of Tromsø, Norway in 2006. Her doctoral thesis, originally written in Sámi, deals with evaluation of source material for the study of indigenous religion of the Eastern Sámi, within the framework of indigenous methodologies.
Before becoming Rector, Dr. Porsanger was Associate Professor at the Sámi University College leading a pilot project on documentation and protection of Sámi traditional knowledge. From 2005 to 2009 she worked at the Nordic Sámi Institute (NSI), first as a senior researcher and later as the head of the NSI. She was a Director of Research for the Sámi University College, which the NSI joined in 2005. She was a research scholar and lecturer at the Department of Sámi at the University of Tromsø 1998−2005 and a lecturer at the University of Helsinki, Finland prior to 1998.
She has published many papers about Eastern Sámi traditions, religion and history, indigenous methodologies, traditional knowledge and indigenous epistemologies. She has presented at international conferences and has been an expert in knowledge and capacity building for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. For many years she has been the chief editor of the Sámi dieđalaš áigečála, a peer-reviewed research periodical in the Sámi language.