Joan Kurze earned her Ph.D. degree in Anthropology at UCLA in 1988 through her research of Chumash baskets and rock art as well as the art and culture of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Her field work in the South Pacific led to extensive lectures on Rapa Nui’s culture and arts, and the publication of articles on Easter Island and two books on the island’s exceptional wood carving. She was the Founding President of the Easter Island Foundation. In 1982, while team teaching at Pepperdine University in Malibu, she became a Trustee of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History where she has served as Vice President of the Board and Chair of the Collections and Research Committee. Through her Trustee work, personal financial support and Los Angeles and southern California connections, she has been a major supporter of the Museum for many decades.