John "Keoni" Kauwe
John “Keoni” Kauwe was appointed president of Brigham Young University-Hawaii by the Board of Trustees on May 12, 2020. He is the first native Hawaiian to fill the position. He begins his service on July 1, 2020.
At the time of his appointment, Kauwe was dean of graduate studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, a position he held since 2019. He joined the biology department in the College of Life Sciences at BYU in 2009 and later served as chair of the biology department. He is an internationally recognized researcher who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease genetics. He has made important contributions toward discovering more than a dozen new genetic risk factors for the disease.
Kauwe holds a doctorate degree in evolution, ecology, and population biology from Washington University in St. Louis. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Alzheimer’s disease genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine. He received a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a master’s degree in population genetics from BYU.
He spent several years of his childhood on the islands of Kaua’i, O’ahu, and Moloka’i; and graduated from Moloka’i High School. His fourth great-grandfather, Kaleohano, was one of the first converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hawaii. He was taught by Elder George Q. Cannon in 1851.
Kauwe and Monica Mortenson Kauwe married in 2003 and are parents of five children. President Kauwe said that Church president Russell M. Nelson “made it clear that this position was for both of us.” She holds a degree in chemistry and worked in the pharmaceutical industry before becoming a full-time mother.