HONOLULU, Hawaii – Bishop Museum has named Dr. Patrick Vinton Kirch, UC Berkeley professor of Anthropology and Integrative Biology, as the recipient of its prestigious Herbert E. Gregory Medal for Distinguished Service to Science in the Pacific Region. Awarded every four years, the medal was established by 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 (PSA).
“Dr. Kirch exemplifies the accomplishments, leadership, and vision that are inherent in the criteria for the Herbert E. Gregory Medal,” said Blair Collis, President and CEO of Bishop Museum, “Bishop Museum is pleased to recognize his exceptional contribution to our understanding of Hawai’i and the Pacific.”
Kirch has authored over 230 published articles, papers, and 11 books about the cultures and peoples of the Pacific. His most recent book, “How Chiefs Became Kings: Divine Kingship and the Rise of Archaic States in Ancient Hawai‘i,” was published in 2010.
Kirch was born and raised in Honolulu, graduated from Punahou, studied anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, and received his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1975. As a staff member at Bishop Museum from 1975-1984, he carried out field research on the Hawaiian Islands and led expeditions to the Solomon Islands and Tonga. He continues to conduct fieldwork in a variety of other locations in the Pacific, focusing on the reciprocal interactions between indigenous peoples and their island ecosystems.
Kirch also served as the Director of the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle, Washington, and Associate Professor at the University of Washington. In 1984, he was appointed Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 1990 he was elected to the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his work throughout the Pacific.
Kirch received the award at the PSA’s 22nd Pacific Science Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on June 17.