University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Kolb Society

The Louis J. Kolb Society of Fellows


The Louis J. Kolb Society of Fellows originated in 1981. The society was founded through a bequest by Katherine Kolb Paanakker in honor of her father, Colonel Louis J. Kolb, who was a Philadelphian and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, class of 1887. The purpose of the Kolb Society is to provide fellowships and financial aid for graduate students at Penn in academic disciplines related to the mission of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Each year, several deserving Ph.D. candidates are elected to the rank of junior fellow in the Kolb Society by senior fellows, tenured faculty at Penn.

The Kolb Society of Fellows is comprised of junior fellows, fellows, senior fellows, and emeritus fellows. In addition, the Kolb Foundation is administered by a board of directors, which includes the Williams Director of the Penn Museum, who serves as president of the Kolb Society. Junior fellows are graduate students elected to the society based on scholastic achievement. These students receive fellowships to support their graduate study and complete their dissertations. Once the junior fellows complete the dissertation and graduate, they become lifelong fellows of the society. Senior fellows are Penn faculty members appointed to the society. Retired faculty and professors who relocate to other universities, as well as retired presidents, become emeritus fellows.

The research interests of the Kolb Society of Fellows are focused principally on ancient, pre-industrial cultures and modern, non-industrial peoples of the world. The Kolb Society supports students who are actively engaged with material culture and archaeological research. Both senior fellows and junior fellows are primarily drawn from the ranks of the Departments of Anthropology (Anth); History of Art (ArtH); Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) and East Asian Languages and Civilizations (EALC), formerly the consolidated Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES); as well as the Graduate Groups of Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World (AAMW) and Ancient History (AncH) at the University of Pennsylvania. The Kolb Society is interested in diversity and represents a wide range of disciplines, cultures, and time periods.

The primary directive of the Kolb Society is to promote and facilitate dissertation research for the elected graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. Junior fellows are encouraged to travel, excavate, and to pursue archival research and gain museum experience; they are also provided opportunities to present papers and encouraged to publish research. Senior fellows act as advisors and mentors, and graduated fellows offer a network of support both within and outside of the University of Pennsylvania.

Although the junior and senior fellows are based at the University of Pennsylvania, the Kolb fellows are located across the United States and throughout the world in both academic and non-academic positions. In many instances, their commitment to the Kolb Society of Fellows remains strong and they return annually to the society and maintain contact and promote associations with other fellows.

Since 2006, the Kolb Society of Fellows has annually sponsored the Junior Fellows Spring Colloquium and the Senior Scholars Colloquium, which takes place in the fall. The spring colloquium provides an opportunity for graduating junior fellows to present their research to the community. Each year, the fall colloquium reunites fellows of all levels and allows them to share their work. It coincides with the annual business meeting of the Kolb Society directors and with the Kolb dinner, which offers a welcome and informal setting for conviviality, networking, and exchanging information. In 2011, a series of workshops sponsored by the Kolb Society was proposed to further engage the Penn community of fellows. Individually and as a collective, the Kolb Society maintains a high profile at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, where its members curate, pursue research, direct publications, coordinate lectures, workshops, and colloquia, and can be found at all levels of administration. In addition, Kolb senior fellows serve as directors of the Penn Center for Ancient Studies and the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, and often chair their respective departments.

The Kolb Society of Fellows celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2010. The society looks forward to a future of community, commitment to graduate education and to post-graduate achievement. It will continue its beneficial communication across disciplines. It remains dedicated to the pursuit of archaeological and anthropological research and discovery at Penn and particularly at the Penn Museum, while it continues to expand and reach out to the world beyond the university.

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