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  • Pacific Science Association


I. Bishop Museum Awards 2011 Gregory Medal to Patrick V. Kirch

The Herbert E. Gregory Medal for Distinguished Service to Science in the Pacific Region was established by the Board of Trustees of The Bishop Museum in 1961 to honor the memory of Herbert E. Gregory, the Museum’s second Director who served from 1919 to 1936, and his role as founder of the Pacific Science Association.

The Gregory Medal is awarded quadrennially at Pacific Science Congresses by the Bishop Museum’s Board of Directors to outstanding leaders in Pacific science based on distinguished research contributions in the Pacific region in one or more of the scientific disciplines in which the Museum is active. Past recipients of the Gregory Medal include Peter Raven (1991), Elwood Zimmerman (1995), Patrick Nunn (2003), and Dieter Mueller-Dumbois (2007).

At the 22nd Pacific Science Congress held 14–17 June 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Bishop Museum awarded the twelfth Herbert E. Gregory Medal to Dr. Patrick Vinton Kirch.

In twenty-two years of research and teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, and in collaboration with a number of colleagues at other institutions, Dr. Kirch’s studies focus on the evolution of complex sociopolitical formations (especially “chiefdoms”), on prehistoric as well as ethnographic subsistence systems (in particular those involving some form of intensification), and on the reciprocal interactions between indigenous peoples and the island ecosystems of the Pacific.

Dr. Kirch has authored over 230 published articles, papers and books on the origins and diversification of the cultures and peoples of the Pacific. Among these are eleven major books, including “How Chiefs Became Kings: Divine Kingship and the Rise of Archaic States in Ancient Hawai‘i” published by University of California Press in 2010, “Hawaiki: Ancestral Polynesia: An Essay in Historical Anthropology” (with Roger Green) published by Cambridge University Press in 2001, “On The Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands Before European Contact” published by University of California Press in 2000, “Historical Ecology in the Pacific Islands” published by Yale University Press in 2000, “The Lapita Peoples” published by Blackwells in 1999, and “The Wet and The Dry: Irrigation and Agricultural Intensification in Polynesia” published by University of Chicago Press in 1994.

Dr. Kirch was born and raised in Hawai‘i, and studied Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania before moving to Yale University where he received his Ph.D. in 1975. He served on the staff of the Bishop Museum from 1975–1984, and there he led expeditions to [End Page 401] the Solomon Islands and Tonga and carried out field research in the Hawaiian Islands. He became Director of the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington, and Associate Professor at the University of Washington in 1984. He was appointed Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989, and since 1995 has held the endowed Class of 1954 Chair at Berkeley.

Dr. Kirch has conducted fieldwork throughout the Pacific, including the Mussau Islands in Papua New Guinea, Palau and Yap, Arno Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Kolombangara, Vanikoro, Tikopia, and Anuta in the Solomon Islands, Futuna, Alofi, and ‘Uvea in the Wallis Islands, the Manu‘a Islands in American Samoa, Niuatoputapu and Vava‘u in Tonga, Mangaia in the Cook Islands, Mo‘orea and Mangareva in French Polynesia, Rapanui, and Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Molokai, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawai‘i in the Hawaiian Islands.

He has directed a long-term field program in the Kahikinui district on the island of Maui, involving both graduate and undergraduate student participation, which focuses on protohistoric transformations in environmentally marginal landscapes, and includes inter-disciplinary collaboration with ecologists, soil scientists, paleobotanists, and quantitative modelers based at five different universities, including the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, with University of California, Berkeley as the lead institution.

Dr. Kirch’s ongoing research projects in Oceanic archaeology and prehistory are coordinated through the Oceanic Archaeology Laboratory, and include an archaeological study of the remote Mangareva Archipelago in French Polynesia, carried out in collaboration with the Université de la Polynésie Française. His research program at Berkeley has been supported by major grants from the National...


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