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Elena Leonidovna



18 August 1929 – 11 October 1990


Taxonomic specialization:



Elena Leonidovna Gurjeva, an eminent specialist in systematics of Elateridae belonged to the generation of entomologists whose research activities began in the first decade after WWII and who had to make up for the loss of scientific researchers caused by the war. At that time many new specialists came to the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Elena Gurjeva was among them and bound her fate with the Zoological Institute forever.

Elena Gurjeva was born on 18 August 1929 in Leningrad. Her father, Leonid Robertovich Neiman, was a prominent electric engineer, who later became Academician of USSR Academy of Sciences. She went to school in Leningrad in 1937, later together with her mother Nadezhda Alexandrovna Neiman-Golubinskaya) and her brother she was evacuated from the besieged city to her mother’s native town Kuznetsk in Penza Region. After that the whole family joined in Tashkent where her father was summoned on mission of the Academy of Sciences.

In 1944 Elena Gurjeva returned to Lenindrad and finished school. In 1947 Elena Gurjeva entered the Biology Faculty of Leningrad University. A first year student Elena Gurjeva entered Student Scientific Society and in 1951 took part in an expedition of the Zoological Institute as a technician and already at that time began specializing in Elateridae. During her student years at the university Elena married Vladislav Viktorovich Gurjev, and soon her daughter Maria was born.

After graduation from the University, the Entomology Department, Elena Gurjeva started her post-graduate course at the Zoological Institute (15 December 1953), she finished the course three years later (15 December 1956) and was enrolled on the staff of the Zoological Institute as a technician, but soon got a position of Junior Researcher. On 24 April 1959 she defended her Kandidat’s theses (supervisor L.V.Arnoldi) and in 1980 her dissertation for the degree Dr. Sc.; she finished her carrier in a position of Leading Researcher.

During her whole life Elena Gurjeva described new species of Elateridae to which the majority of her publications are dedicated. She described also new genera and tribes, made revisions of large taxonomically difficult genera, such as Elater and Ampedus, studied and described larvae. Like any taxonomist she published different identification keys, ecologo-faunal and zoogeographic reviews and reference books on pests. Of great interest are her papers on evolutionary pathways of Elateridae and also works dealing with analysis of structure and evolution of the closing device of this group. In 1979 and 1989 Elena Gurjeva published more than 100 works.

Elena Gurjeva was practically studying fauna of the Palearctic Region (USSR and neighbouring countries), but was well familiar with faunas of other regions and in the process of preparing volumes of “The Fauna of the USSR” refined systematics of the family based upon the entire world fauna. Apart from conducting research on her main subject, Elena Gurjeva also wrote (mostly for collective reviews) papers on families related to click beetles and “vacant” families “distributed” among coleopterists of the laboratory as an extra work. Elena Gurjeva for a long time was curator of the basic scientific collection of the Coleoptera Department, was secretary of laboratory scientific seminar, member of the editorial board of the journal “Entomological Review”, editor of a number collective transactions, and curator of a subject catalogue on beetles in the Institute library, and a member of Presidium and Council of the Entomological Society.

Elena Gurjeva annually went on expeditions, she loved and understood nature, she enjoyed expeditions. During her field trips she worked mostly in Kazakhstan and Middle Asia, in Mongolia, in Primorski Krai. She was lucky to come with a short visit to Iran from 17.10. to 5.11.1977, in Shahs time. She visited India as a tourist. During Khrushchev’s “thaw” she participated in the World Entomological congresses in Vienna in 1960 and London in 1964. Serious illness and death overtook Elena Gurjeva when she was in the prime of her creative abilities.

Emelyanov, November 2000




Last updated: 28 November 2000