Ron Pen is professor of music at the University of Kentucky where he also serves as Director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music and Coordinator of the Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology.
Ron has focused his research and writing on traditional Appalachian culture. His recent publications in this area include I Wonder As I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles (University Press of Kentucky 2010) and “Preservation and Presentation of the Folk: Forging an American Identity” in Music, American Made (Harmonie Park Press 2011).
He has also been interested in World Music in his teaching and performance, and has been involved in several State Department-sponsored cultural exchanges with Kyrgyzstan. Most recently, in February-March 2012 he and members of the Red State Ramblers old time string band collaborated with members of Ustatshakirt. He traveled to Shanghai and Beijing, China for presentations and performances in May 2012. In October 2012 he traveled with the Ramblers to Ecuador on a cultural exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy.