Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

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Marjorie Paquette Maguire was born in Pearl River, New York, in 1925. She pursued both undergraduate and graduate degrees at Cornell University, receiving a Ph.D. in 1952. Two years prior to that, she married Bassett Maguire Jr. When Bassett was appointed assistant professor of zoology at the University of Texas in 1958, Marjorie accompanied him to Austin with an appointment as research associate in the Genetics Foundation, based in the Department of Zoology. At that time, there were strong rules against nepotism that prevented her from being considered for a regular faculty position in the same department. However, her appointment as research associate provided laboratory space and allowed her to apply for research grants from outside agencies.

In 1965, she was awarded a five-year National Institutes of Health Research Career Development Award. This allowed her to devote full-time to her research, which led to a number of publications in major scientific journals on the cytogenetics of maize. The award was renewed in 1970 for an additional five years.

In the early 1970s, it was recognized that nepotism rules generated a substantial bias against women. At that point, the zoology department recommended that Dr. Marjorie Maguire be given a regular teaching faculty appointment. In January 1975, she was appointed associate professor of zoology, a regular tenured faculty position. In 1981, she was promoted to professor of zoology, a position she held for twenty years until her retirement as professor emeritus.

Professor Maguire’s scientific work was devoted to the study of chromosomes in her chosen organism, maize, a favorite organism of geneticists for many years. In particular, she sought new insights into basic mechanisms and interrelationships of homologous pairing, crossing over, and the maintenance of chiasmatic associations in early anaphase and dyad associations in late anaphase. These studies provide insight into the basic mechanisms for the regular distribution of chromosomes from parent to offspring, assuring that the offspring carry neither too many nor too few, thereby avoiding major detrimental effects on the offspring. Her studies were important contributions to understanding these vital processes of inheritance.

As is obvious from her publications list, Professor Maguire was a “loner.” She was very much a “hands-on” investigator, involved in all aspects of her research. This was partly due to the nature of her scientific endeavors: long hours at the microscope, a procedure that is difficult to share or assign. It is also fair to say that it suited her temperament. She participated actively in her profession, however, serving on a number of University committees, including as chair of the zoology graduate studies committee, both in the Department of Zoology and in the Division of Biological Sciences. She also served on a number of doctoral and master’s degree committees.

Professor Maguire was a highly productive scientist, with eighty-one papers published in major scientific journals and numerous abstracts of research presented at scientific meetings. These were almost all single-author papers, a remarkable achievement in this day of multi-authored articles. She also was coauthor with R.P. Wagner and R.L. Stallings of a book, Chromosomes: a Synthesis. As might be expected with this record, she was supported for many years by research grants from the National Institutes of Health and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Professor Maguire is survived by her husband, Bassett Maguire Jr.; two children, William and David; and two grandchildren.


William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin


Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Hugh Forrest and Eldon Sutton.