2021 AAA Elections

I am asking for your vote for an open seat [Undesignated Seat #1] on the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association.

I believe I am well qualified for this position. I have been a member of the AAA since 1980. I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Iowa Cancer Consortium (2019-pres), a member of the University Research Council, Office of the Vice-President for Research, University of Iowa (2015-pres), a former member of the College of Public Health Research Council, University of Iowa (2017-2020), and recently served as the Treasurer of the Society for Anthropological Sciences (2016-2020). In addition, I currently serve on the editorial advisory boards of several journals. [Additional information about my background, a statement of interest and my education appear below.]

Voting is now open on the AAA website and will continue through May 31, 2021. Please consider casting a vote for me. However, regardless of how you are considering voting, PLEASE VOTE.

Background: I am a biological/biomedical anthropologist with broad training and interests in the four-fields of anthropology. I received my BA (1977) from the University of Iowa and my MA (1980) and PhD (1988) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My graduate studies focused on evolutionary and biocultural aspects of human variation. That training has served me well. Currently, I have a courtesy appointment as an adjunct associate professor in the University of Iowa’s Dept of Anthropology and a salaried position as a research scientist in the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health where I am the Deputy Director and the Director of Evaluation for the Healthier Workforce Center, one of six national NIOSH/CDC-funded Total Worker Health® Centers of Excellence. During my career, I have worked as an independent researcher, project leader and team member at academic and for-profit institutions and have successfully applied my anthropological training to issues in medicine and public health as well as in anthropology. I have extensive clinical, community, field, laboratory, and survey research experience, have successfully competed for Federal and commercial grants, have broad administrative experience (i.e., budgeting, reporting, supervising, human subjects compliance), and a long history of productive interdisciplinary research that has consistently produced peer-reviewed publications.

Statement of interest: I want to thank the Nominations Committee for the honor of being nominated and for the opportunity to serve on the AAA Executive Board. The AAA, as other professional associations, faces many challenges. Chief among these is attracting and retaining members and the related challenge of staying relevant to an ever-increasing proportion of the profession. Yet, at the same time, the world is confronted by problems that are multi- and interdisciplinary, global, and complex. Because the human aspects of these problems are multifaceted, I believe that there has never been a greater need for the holistic approaches that have been the hallmark of anthropology. We cannot not, however, simply focus on “creating” more anthropologists. Rather, we must work towards creating a wider awareness and a greater understanding of anthropology. Towards that end, we must increase the visibility and representation of practicing anthropologists within the AAA and thru that action, promote the benefits and desirability of anthropological training in this increasingly globalized world. As a member of the Executive Board, I will work with AAA stakeholders and engage with anthropologists outside the AAA to increase the visibility and the representation of anthropologists working in non-traditional positions. As one who has devoted thirty-plus years working outside of academic anthropology—all of that time as a member of the AAA—I have no doubt that my anthropological training contributed to my survival and my successes in multiple non-traditional anthropology workplaces. I know there are other anthropologists in the workforce who have similar stories to tell.


PhD (1988), Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois.
“The biological significance of the Melanesian Gm distribution: Selection and the Gm–hypothesis.” (E. Giles, Dissertation Committee Chair)

Resulting Publications:
Kelly KM (1990) Gm polymorphisms, linguistic affinities, and natural selection in Melanesia. Current Anthropology, 31:201-219.
Clark JT, Kelly KM (1993) Human genetics, paleoenvironments, and malaria: relationships and implications for the settlement of Oceania. American Anthropologist, 95:613-631.
Kelly KM (1996) IGHG3 G and the pathogenesis of hyperreactive malarious splenomegaly. Medical Hypotheses, 46:135-139.
Kelly KM (1996) The end of the trail: the genetic bases for deriving the Polynesian peoples from Austronesian-speaking paleopopulations of Melanesian Near Oceania. In: J Davidson, G Irwin, BF Leach, A Pawley and D Brown (Editors), Oceanic Culture History, Essays in Honour of Roger Green. New Zealand Journal of Archaeology Special Publication, pp. 355-364.

AM (1980) Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois.
“A re-examination of the evidence for demographic equilibrium among Australian hunter-gatherers.” (L. Klepinger, Thesis Advisor)

Resulting Publications:
Kelly KM (1994) On the magic number 500: an expostulation. Current Anthropology. 35:435-438.
Kelly KM (2002) Population. In: JP Hart and JE Terrell (Editors), Darwin and Archaeology: A Handbook of Key Concepts. Greenwood Publishers: Westport, Connecticut, pp. 243-256.

BA with Honors (1977), Anthropology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
“The detection of altered collagen in cooked bone.” (H. Semken [Geology] & R Shutler, Jr [Anthropology], Honors Thesis Advisors)