John L. Sorenson is professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in archaeology from BYU, a master’s degree in meteorology from the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles.
He originated the program in anthropology at BYU, heading it for fourteen of his twenty-four years of faculty service. His primary academic and professional emphasis was in sociocultural anthropology, including many years as an applied anthropologist. Among other positions, he served as director of social sciences at General Research Corporation in Santa Barbara, California, in the 1960s and later founded Bonneville Research Corporation in Provo, Utah. He is the author of more than 200 publications.
Despite following a variety of other professional interests throughout his career, Dr. Sorenson never lost his strong interest in Mesoamerican archaeology, the subject that first drew him to anthropology. Since his retirement from BYU in 1986, he has concentrated his research and writing in that area.
One of the key figures in the early development of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (now part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship), Dr. Sorenson served for several years as the editor of its Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. His 1985 book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, published by FARMS and Deseret Book, has become the most influential treatment of Book of Mormon peoples and history in their Mesoamerican context.
Dr. Sorenson and his late wife, Kathryn, reared nine children. In 1993 he married Helen Lance Christianson, mother of nine. They reside in Provo, Utah.