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Outstanding Faculty Awards

Jennifer Kahn

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
The College of William & Mary
Rising Star

Jennifer Kahn is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology
at The College of William & Mary, where she has taught and conducted research since Fall 2012. Her research has two main foci: investigating the colonization and settlement of the Pacific Islands, particularly the ways in which islanders interacted with changing environments and exploited marine and terrestrial resources through time; and investigating the daily life of Polynesians in the past, through multi-scalar analysis of monumental architecture (temples), residential sites, and agricultural complexes. Her research takes place in the beautiful and isolated islands of the South Pacific. She has directed and participated in archaeological field research programs in the Hawaiian Islands, the Marquesas Islands, Mangareva, the Society Islands, and New Caledonia.

Dr. Kahn’s research has been supported by more than $1.9 million in competitive federal research grants from the National Science Foundation. She has published 33 articles in peer-reviewed journals and a monograph with the Bishop Museum Press. Dr. Kahn holds a number of leadership positions in the archaeological community, serving on the editorial boards of the journals Journal of Pacific Archaeology and Archaeology in Oceania. She also serves as Node Director for the Mo‘orea IDEA Consortium and as an Associate Researcher at the Bishop Museum and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

A dedicated educator and mentor of young scientists, Dr. Kahn has served as major advisor to three Ph.D. committees and as chair of two undergraduate Honors theses. She provides extraordinary research experiences for undergraduates, including participation in three-month archaeological expeditions to Hawai‘i and Tahiti. Much of Dr. Kahn’s research takes place in French Polynesia, where local researchers and community members lack access to resources or infrastructure. She regularly invites French and Tahitian researchers to her field sites for training workshops. Dr. Kahn also provides training and mentoring to local Tahitian students from the University of French Polynesia who want to gain archaeological experience. Likewise, she integrates local Tahitian and Hawaiian community members and landowners into her archaeological crews in order to share archaeological knowledge and archaeological practice with descendant communities.

View Nomination Packet

Jennifer Kahn


"For me, archaeology is not just about discovery, but learning from, and sharing my experiences with, so many others."