Keen, A. Myra (Angeline Myra) 1905-

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Biographical History

A. Myra (Angeline Myra) Keen (1905-1986), an expert on the systematics of Cenozoic marine mollusks, was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She graduated from Colorado College in 1930, received her M.A. at Stanford in 1931, and her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of California at Berkeley in 1934. While working on her Ph.D., Keen volunteered to help Ida Shepard Oldroyd with her work on shells at Stanford University. Unable to find employment in her field when she graduated, Keen continued her volunteer work on the shell collection at Stanford. She soon came under the influence of Hubert Gregory Schenck, a paleontologist, who encouraged her to concentrate on malacology. Keen spent the remainder of her career at the University. Keen was appointed Curator of Paleontology in 1936, Assistant Professor of Paleontology in 1954, Curator of Malacology in 1957, and Associate Professor and Professor of Paleontology in 1960 and 1965, respectively. In 1970 Keen became Professor of Paleontology Emeritus and Curator of Malacology Emeritus. Keen retired from Stanford in 1972, but continued her scholarship and interest in the work of her students and colleagues until her death. Keen's specialty was Tertiary and recent molluscan faunas. As part of her research, Keen undertook extensive field work along the coast of California, traveling as far south as Peru. Her best known work, published in 1958, was The Shells of Tropical West America: Marine Mollusks from Lower California to Colombia. Myra Keen was active in many professional societies and served as President of the American Malacological Union, 1948. She was one of the chief organizers of the Pacific Division of the American Malacological Union in 1948 and became its Chairman in 1964. In 1949 Keen was made Chairman of the Pacific Coast Section of the Paleontological Society and became a Fellow of the Society the same year. Keen was elected President of the Western Society of Malacologists in 1970 and was Chairman of the Committee on Nomenclature of the Society of Systematic Zoology. Keen was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964 and, in 1979, was the first woman to receive the Fellows' Medal of the California Academy of Sciences. On his visit to the United States in 1975, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, a noted student of shells, met with Keen.

Related entities

Stanford university ‎: Keen held various positions including curator of paleontology at Stanford University.

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  • Malacologists
  • Paleontologists


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  • Paleontologists
  • Malacologists