Merilyn was born in Concord, California and was a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in art history. The American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM) was envisioned, founded, and incorporated by Wendell in 1949 in Washington, D.C. It allowed his dreams of exploration of the origins of man to become a reality. With his untimely deat, the AFSM faded into the background until his younger sister reactivated it in 1980. Continuing Wendell’s legacy, Merilyn assumed the leadership and became its president until her passing in December 29th. The work of the AFSM became her passion and the organization has maintained a concession at the Mahram Bilqis/Awam Temple in Yemen to this day. She led multiple field expedition teams to Yemen which revealed many important discoveries of the region for worldwide benefit. In 2013, on behalf of the AFSM, Merilyn gifted a large number of the important artifacts discovered by Wendell and his team to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art/Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Rencontres Sabeennes 24 is dedicated to the memory of Merilyn Phillips Hodgson Mohannad Alsayani