Obituary: Keith Rayner, Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Psychology

Keith Rayner

Keith Rayner, 71, of La Jolla, Calif., Distinguished Professor emeritus in psychology, died Jan. 21 of multiple myeloma in San Diego.

Born in Dover, England, his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1949 and settled in Salt Lake City.

He attended the University of Utah, where he received his B.S. and M.S. in psychology before going on to earn Cornell University to earn his doctorate, which focused on the perceptual span and peripheral cues in reading. 

Priot to joining the faculty, he was an assistant professor of education, psychology and visual science at the University of Rochester from 1973-78.

He arrived in Amherst in 1978 as an associate professor. He was promoted to professor in 1981, when he also became director of the Center for Cognitive Science. He was named a Distinguished Professor in 1991.

In 1984-85, he was a visiting professor at Oxford University and in 1987-88, he was a visiting fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.

He retired in 2008 and moved to California, where he served as Atkinson Family Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego, until his death.

He was the editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition from 1990-95 and editor of Psychology Review from 2004-10.

His campus honors included the Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity, a Faculty Fellowship and the Chancellor’s Medal as a Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.

He was also the recipient of the Bartlett Lecture Lifetime Achievement Award from the Experimental Psychology Society in the U.K., the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award, the UC San Diego Chancellor’s Associates Research Award, the Distinguished Scholar Lifetime Achievement Award from the Literacy Research Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, the William James Fellow for Lifetime Achievement Award from Association for Psychological Science and the Award for Excellence in Mentoring from Women in Cognitive Science. In 2011, he was named a Carnegie Centenary Professor by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

He leaves his wife, Susan, and his children, Ashley and Jonathan, two granddaughters, his mother and three siblings.

Memorial donations may be made to the Acute Myeloid Leukemia Research Fund, c/o University of California, San Diego Foundation, 9500 Gilman Drive #9040, La Jolla, CA 92093-9040.