Helen Margaret Gilkey

Helen Margaret Gilkey epitomized the Pacific Northwestern botanist of the first half of the Twentieth Century.

Born on March 6, 1886, in Montesanto, Washington, she and her family moved to Corvallis in 1903. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from OSC and completed her PhD, “A Revision of the Tuberales (truffle fungi) of California,” in 1915 with W.A. Setchell at the University of California at Berkeley. From 1915 until 1918, she worked as a scientific illustrator at Berkeley.

In 1918, she returned to Oregon State to work as the curator of the University’s herbarium, a position she held until 1951; she later became a professor of Botany. She had 44 publications to her credit, 10 on vascular plant taxonomy and 10 on Tuberales. According to the Oregon State University Mycological Collection, “She played an essential role in establishing Oregon State University as the center for taxonomic and systematic research of hypogeous fungi. Her collection is still actively used and serves as the foundation for systematic research of hypogeous fungi in North America.” The consummate academic, retirement didn’t slow her research; she remained active until her death in 1972.

To learn more about Dr. Gilkey, read our March 13th, 2007 blog post.

There is also a wonderful Oregon Encyclopedia article on her — well worth the read!

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