College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Jennifer A. Raff

Social and Behavioral Sciences - Anthropology
Associate Professor
Associate Director, Laboratory of Biological Anthropology
Primary office:
Fraser Hall, 618
University of Kansas
1415 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, Kansas 66045


Research Interests

  • Physical Anthropology
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Ancient DNA
  • Human Variation
  • Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Colonization
  • Migration and Dispersal and the Prehistory of the Americas
  • Native American Genetic Diversity
  • Paleopathology
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Science Literacy

Selected Publications

Raff JA and Bolnick DA. (In Press). Does mitochondrial haplogroup X indicate ancient trans-Atlantic migration to the Americas? A critical re-evaluation. PaleoAmerica.

Raff JA. (In Press) Anthropological genetics and social media outreach. Vital Topics Forum on Anthropological Genetics, American Anthropologist.

Raff JA, Rzhetskaya M, Tackney J, Hayes MG. 2015. Mitochondrial diversity of Inupiat people 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

Raff, JA. 2014. Review of Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance. Human Biology. Volume 86(3).

Li, J., Quinque, D., Li, M., Horz, H., Rzhetskaya, M.R, Raff, J., Hayes, M.G., and 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

Reynolds, A.W.*, Raff, J.A.*, Cook, D.C., Kaestle, F.A., and Bolnick, D.A. 2014. Ancient DNA from the Schild site in Illinois: Implications for the Mississippian transition in the Lower Illinois River Valley. American Journal of Physical Anthropology DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22668  *Co-first authors

Tackney, J.C., Coltrain, J.B., Raff JA, and O'Rourke, D.H. (In Press) Ancient DNA and stable isotopes: Windows on Arctic prehistory. In: Oxford Handbook of Arctic Archaeology, Max Friesen and Owen Mason, Editors. Oxford University Press.

Raff J.A. and Bolnick D.A. (2014) Genetic roots of the first Americans. Nature 506:162-163. Powell, M.L., Cook, D.C., Langley, M.M., Spencer, S.D., Raff, J.A., and Kaestle, F.A. (2012) The ‘African Queen’, a Portuguese mystery. In: The Bioarchaeology of Individuals: Bioarchaeological Interpretations of the Past: Local, Regional, and Global, Ann Lucy Stodder and Ann M. Palkovich, Editors. University Press of Florida.

Raff, J.A., Bolnick, D.A., Tackney, J.C., and O’Rourke, D.H. (2011) Ancient DNA perspectives on American colonization and population history. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 146:503-514. One of the five most accessed articles in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 2011.

Raff, J.A., Tackney, J.C., and 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., and Raff, J.A. (2010) The final frontier: Genetic perspectives on American colonization. Current Biology 20:R202-R207.

Meier, R. J. and Raff, J.A. (2010) Genetics in Human Biology. In: Human Evolutionary Biology, Michael P. Muehinbein, Editor. Cambridge University Press.

Raff, J.A., Cook, D.C., and 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, 101(Suppl. II): 25-27. Rio de Janeiro.

Lee, S., Carlson, T., Christian, N., Lea, K., Kedzie, J., Reilly, J.P., Bonner, J.J. (2000). The yeast heat shock transcription factor changes conformation in response to superoxide and temperature. Molecular Biology of the Cell 11:1753-1764.

Selected Presentations

Raff, J. A. (5/1/2017). Demography and Migration History of the Aleut Peoples. Center for Migration Research. Lawrence
Raff, J. A. (5/13/2017). 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. A., Tackney, J., Rzhetskaya, M., Hayes, M. G., & O'Rourke, D. H. (3/31/2017). New perspectives on Arctic prehistory from ancient and contemporary genetics. 44th Annual Meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association. Fairbanks AK
Raff, J. A., & O'Rourke, D. H. (12/31/2017). Genetic History of the Aleutian (Unangan) Region Project. APIA Board Meeting 2017. Anchorage, AK
Raff, J. A. (11/12/2016). The misuse of genetics in pseudoscience. Skepticon. Springfield MO
Raff, J. A. (9/6/2016). 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. (3/25/2016 - 3/25/2016). The history of genetics. NASA ISS Science Friday. Johnson Space Center, Houston TX
Raff, J. (2/16/2016 - 2/16/2016). 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. A. (12/3/2015). A genetic perspective on the prehistory of the Americas. University of Missouri
Raff, J. A., Miro-Herrans, A., Jensen, A., Rzhetskaya, M., Armstrong, L., Hayes, M. G., ...Bolnick, D. (3/27/2015). 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. A. (12/31/2014). Ancient DNA research methods and ethics. Summer Internship for Native Americans in Genomics, University of Texas at Austin
Raff, J. A. (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

Identifying Genomic Signatures of Evolutionary and Cultural Change in Protohistoric Native Americans from the Ohio River Valley. National Science Foundation. $285845.00. Submitted 11/1/2014 (5/15/2015). Federal. Status: Funded. Research is being conducted at facilities at the University of Texas
Testing alternative models of Native American migration history with ancient DNA. KU Center for Migration Research Institute for Policy and Social Researc. $4900.00. (5/1/2016). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded