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  • Jennifer A. Raff

Jennifer A. Raff, PhD

Assistant Professor
On leave for Fall 2017 semester.
Ph.D., Anthropology and Genetics (dual degree), Indiana University, Bloomington
Primary office:
Fraser Hall
Room 618
University of Kansas
1415 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, Kansas 66045

Research Areas: genomics, population genetics, ancient DNA, anthropological genetics, human evolution and population history, migration, bioarchaeology, scientific literacy, North America, Arctic



Ph.D., Anthropology and Genetics (dual degree), Indiana University, Bloomington

M.A., Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington

B.A., Biology and Anthropology (double major), Indiana University, Bloomington

Research Interests

  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Ancient DNA
  • Human Genetic Variation
  • Population Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Molecular Biology
  • Migration
  • Prehistory of the Americas
  • Native American Genetic Diversity
  • Science Literacy

Selected Publications

(2017). The Past and the Curious. Homo naledi genome: Will we ever find this elusive key to human evolution?. The Guardian London, UK. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/23/homo-naledi-genome-will-we-ever-find-this-elusive-key-to-human-evolution

Raff, J. A (2017). The Past and the Curious. Food for thought: reconstructing the diet of Napoleon's Grand Army . The Guardian London, UK. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/apr/18/food-for-thought-reconstructing-the-diet-of-napoleons-grand-army

Raff, J. (2016). Genome of the Ancient One (a.k.a. Kennewick Man). Human Biology, 87(2), 132-133. http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.13110/humanbiology.87.2.0132

Raff, J. A (2016). Archaeology Notes and Theories. Ancient DNA reveals genetic legacy of pandemics in the Americas . The Guardian London, UK. https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2016/dec/19/ancient-dna-reveals-genetic-legacy-of-pandemics-in-the-americas

Bolnick, D. A, Raff, J. A, Springs, L. C, Reynolds, A. W, & Miro-Herrans, A. (2016). Native American genomics and population histories . Annual Review of Anthropology, 45, 319-340.

Raff, J. (2016). Handbook on Science Literacy, Kendall Hunt.

Reynolds, A. W., Raff, J. A., Cook, D. C., Kaestle, F. A., & Bolnick, D. A. (2015). Ancient DNA from the Schild site in Illinois: Implications for the Mississippian transition in the Lower Illinois River Valley. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 156(3), 434-448. 10.1002/ajpa.22668

Raff, J. A (2015). Anthropological genetics and social media outreach. American Anthropologist. DOI:10.1111/aman.12370

Raff, J. A, & Bolnick, D. (2015). Does mitochondrial haplogroup X indicate ancient trans-Atlantic migration to the Americas? A critical re-evaluation. PaleoAmerica, 1(4), 297-304. DOI:10.1179/2055556315Z.00000000040

Raff, J. A., Rzhetskaya, M. R., Tackney, J. C., & Hayes, M. G. (2015). Mitochondrial diversity of Iñupiat peoples from the Alaskan North Slope provides evidence for the origins of the Paleo- and Neo- Eskimo peoples. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 157(4), 603-614.

Tackney, J. C, Potter, B. A, Raff, J. A, Powers, M., Watkins, W. Scott, Warner, D., Reuther, J. D, Irish, J. D, & O'Rourke, D. H. (2015). Two contemporaneous mitogenomes from Terminal Pleistocene burials in Eastern Beringia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(45), 13833–13838. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1511903112

Raff, J. A. (2014). Review of Nicholas Wade’s "A Troublesome Inheritance" [Review of the book A Troublesome Inheritance, Nicholas Wade]. Human Biology 86(3)

Li, J., Quinque, D., Li, M., Horz, H., Rzhetskaya, M. R., Raff, J., Hayes, M. G., & Stoneking, M. (2014). Comparative Analysis of the Human Saliva Microbiome from Different Climate Zones: Alaska, Germany, and Africa. PLOS Computational Biology. DOI:10.1186/s12866-014-0316-1

Raff, J. A. (2014). Scientific literacy blog: www.violentmetaphors.com.

Raff, J. A. (2014). Addressing a diversity problem in human genetics. Huffington Post Science Blog.

Raff, J. A. (2014). How to read and understand a scientific article. A step-by-step guide for nonscientists. Huffington Post Science Blog.

Raff, J. A. (2014). Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade. Scientific literacy blog www.violentmetaphors.com.

Powell, M. L., Cook, D. C., Langley, M. M., Spencer, S. D., Raff, J. A., & Kaestle, F. A. (2012). The ‘African Queen’, A Portuguese Mystery. In A. Lucy Stodder & A. M. Palkovich (Eds.), The Bioarchaeology of Individuals: Bioarchaeological Interpretations of the Past: Local, Regional, and Global. University Press of Florida.

Raff, J. A., Bolnick, D. A., Tackney, J. C., & O'Rourke, D. H. (2011). Ancient DNA Perspectives on American Colonization and Population History. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 146, 503-514.

Meier, R. J., & Raff, J. A. (2010). Genetics in Human Biology. In M. P. Muehinbein (Ed.), Human Evolutionary Biology. Cambridge University Press.

Raff, J. A., Tackney, J. C., & O'Rourke, D. H. (2010). South from Alaska: A Pilot aDNA Study of Genetic History on the Alaskan Peninsula and Eastern Aleutians. Human Biology, 82(5-6), 677-693.

O'Rourke, D. H., & Raff, J. A. (2010). The Final Frontier: Genetic Perspectives on American Colonization. Current Biology, 20, R202-R207.

Raff, J. A., Cook, D. C., & Kaestle, F. A. (2006). Tuberculosis in the New World: a Study of Ribs from the Schild Mississippian Population, West-Central Illinois. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz Rio de Janeiro, 101(Suppl. II), 25-27.

» Show All Publications

Selected Presentations

Raff, J. & O'Rourke, D. . Genetic History of the Aleutian (Unangan) Region Project. APIA Board Meeting 2017. Anchorage, AK

Raff, J. (05/13/2017). Genetics and origin myths about the First Inhabitants of the Americas. 'Fake News' from the Past: Archaeological Mysteries and the Psychology of Deception. Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, Coshocton, OH

Raff, J. (05/01/2017). Demography and Migration History of the Aleut Peoples. Center for Migration Research. Lawrence

Raff, J., Tackney, J., Rzhetskaya, M., Hayes, M. & O'Rourke, D. (03/31/2017). New perspectives on Arctic prehistory from ancient and contemporary genetics. 44th Annual Meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association. Fairbanks AK

Raff, J. (11/12/2016). The misuse of genetics in pseudoscience. Skepticon. Springfield MO

Raff, J. (09/06/2016). The increasing complexity of the final frontier: What genetics tells us about the initial peopling of the Americas. Evolution, Ecology and Behavior seminar, University of Kansas. Lawrence

Raff, J. (03/25/2016 - 03/25/2016). The history of genetics. NASA ISS Science Friday . Johnson Space Center, Houston TX

Raff, J. (02/16/2016 - 02/16/2016). A lot of smoke, but no fire: A history of the antivaccine movement. KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum Science on Tap . Lawrence, KS

Raff, J. (12/03/2015). A genetic perspective on the prehistory of the Americas. University of Missouri

Raff, J., Miro-Herrans, A., Jensen, A., Rzhetskaya, M., Armstrong, L., Hayes, M. & Bolnick, D. (03/27/2015). Reconstructing the effects of European contact on North Slope Inupiat Populations through genetic archaeological and ethnohistoric research. American Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Meeting.

Raff, J. (12/31/2014). Ancient DNA research methods and ethics. Summer Internship for Native Americans in Genomics, University of Texas at Austin.

Raff, J. (12/31/2014). Ancient molecules and migrations: Understanding the origins of the earliest Americans. The Summer Science Program, New Mexico Institute of Technology.

Selected Grants

Raff, Jennifer, (Principal), Testing alternative models of Native American migration history with ancient DNA, KU Center for Migration Research Institute for Policy and Social Researc, $4,900, (05/01/2016 . University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

Raff, Jennifer A., (Co-Principal), Bolnick, Deborah A, (Co-Principal), Identifying Genomic Signatures of Evolutionary and Cultural Change inProtohistoric Native Americans from the Ohio River Valley, National Science Foundation, $285,845, Submitted 11/01/2014 (05/15/2015 . Federal. Status: Funded.

Selected Awards & Honors

Named one of “8 Awesome Anthropologists Advancing Public Outreach”

Courses Recently Taught

  • Fundamentals of Physical Anthropology
  • Human Evolution

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