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Keolu Fox

Dr. Fox earned his doctorate in Genome Sciences in 2016 at the University of Washington, Seattle. He then went on to serve as a postdoctoral fellow at UCSD since 2016, during which he was awarded the NIH, Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (2017) and the UC Chancellors’ Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018). Dr. Fox’s research program is multi-disciplinary in nature, reflecting his interdisciplinary research experience in anthropology, genomics, and computer science. His primary research focuses on questions of functionalizing genomics, which involves putting to the test theories of natural selection by editing genes and determining the function of the mutations. This unique approach of hypothesis testing through gene editing allows him to examine and test effects of genetic variants assumed to be under natural selection, such as “thrifty genes” in Polynesians, or Neanderthal variants in human cell lines.  Dr. Fox is using the latest gene editing (CRISPR) technologies to ask anthropological questions about natural selection in humans and other closely related species that have never before been testable.  Based on this work, he has been granted prestigious awards from Anthropological institutions including American Association for Physical Anthropology (Cobb Professional Development Grant) 2018 and the National Geographic Emerging Explorer (selected as one of fourteen ‘world-changers’). His work has implications for understandings fundamental biological processes and diseases, and for these as they affect social groups.  Dr. Fox connects biological anthropology with other subfields to address the relationship of genomics to society, the relationship of indigenous communities to science, questions of human health from a holistic biocultural perspective, and paleogenetics as a complement to archeological science.



Ph.D. in Genome Science, Univeristy of Washington School of Medicine (2016)

Postdoctoral Fellow, UC San Diego (October 2016 to 2019)

Evolutionary Anthropology, Paleogenomics, Indigenizing Research, Population Genetics, Genome Technologies; Polynesia, Samoa, American Samoa, Kingdom of Tonga, Tahiti, Hawaii.

Select Publications

Frontiers in big data piece: Including vulnerable populations in the assessment of data from vulnerable populations:

Nature piece: Use ancient remains more wisely:

Nature podcast:

The nation piece: The Fight for Mauna Kea Is a Fight Against Colonial Science:

Ted Talk:

2018 Regents of the University of California (Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship)

2017 National Geographic Emerging Explorer (selected as one of fourteen ‘world-changers’)

2016 TED fellow (selected among 21 new fellows in 2016, gave a TED talk)

2014 Smithsonian, Next-Generation Native Researcher (awarded to three Indigenous researchers)

2014 Cold Spring Harbor Labs, Advanced Genome Sequencing Technologies (full scholarship)