Angeline Myra Keen (1905-1986) was a long-time member of the faculty of Stanford University. Although her academic training was in psychology, she became an expert in paleontology, and more particularly in malacology, the branch of zoology that deals with mollusks. She produced a large body of popular and scholarly work, taught many students, and was widely respected in her field.
After graduating from Colorado College (1930), Myra Keen and her mother moved to Stanford, where Keen took her M.A. in 1931, and then to the University of California at Berkeley, from which she received her doctorate in 1934. There were few jobs available in her field, so she took a volunteer job working on shells at Stanford. There the paleontologist Hubert Gregory Schenck encouraged her to study in that field, especially malacology. Keen spent the remainder of her career at Stanford. She belatedly became an assistant professor in 1954, an associate professor in 1960 and, in 1965, a full professor. At that time she was one of only three women so employed in the scientific disciplines at Stanford.
Keen undertook extensive field work on the west coast of America, as far south as Peru. She published her finest work in 1958, The Shells of Tropical West America: Marine Mollusks from Lower California to Colombia.
Professor Keen was active in many professional societies. She served as president of the American Malacological Union in 1948; in 1949, as a member of the Paleontological Society and chairman of the Pacific Coast Section. In 1970 she was chairman of the Western Malacological Union. She also served as chairman of the Committee on Nomenclature of the Society of Systematic Zoology.
Myra Keen received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa; was made a Guggenheim Fellow in 1964; and, in 1979, became the first woman to receive the Fellows' Medal of the California Academy of Sciences. In 1975 Emperor Hirohito of Japan, himself a noted student of shells, asked to meet Keen on his visit to the United States, and they discussed the molluscan faunas of Japan and northwestern North America.
Professor Keen was an individual of quiet temper but strong convictions. A devoted pacifist, she joined the Religious Society of Friends in 1964. She retired from Stanford in 1972 but continued her interest in scholarship and in the work of her students and colleagues until her death.