Collins, Margaret

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Biographical History

Margaret Collins (1922-1996) was born in Institute, West Virginia. She enrolled at West Virginia State College in 1936 at the age of fourteen. She graduated in 1943 with a major in biology and minors in physics and German. She began her graduate studies the same year at the University of Chicago, eventually earning her Ph.D. in zoology in 1950. At the time, she was only the third black female zoologist in the country. She held an instructor position in the biology department at Howard University from 1947 until 1951, when she accepted a full professor position at Florida A&M University. In 1953, she was appointed the chair of the biology department. In 1964, she returned to the Washington, D.C., area to teach zoology at Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia (formerly Federal City College). Collins was a Research Associate in the National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology from the late 1970s through 1996. Much of her research career focused on termite ecology and distribution. She collected specimens in the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Barbados, Belize, Suriname, the Cayman Islands, Guyana, Guatemala, and Panama. She worked to rebuild the Alfred Emerson Research Station in Kartabo, Guyana. After contracting dengue fever on an expedition in Guyana in 1983-1984, Collins was forced into a long hiatus from field work. She turned her focus to updating and preserving the termite specimens at the Smithsonian Institution. Returning to field work in 1994, she once again returned to Guyana to collect termites. Collins died in April 1996 while conducting field work in the Cayman Islands.

Source

Warren, W. (1999). Black women scientists in the United States. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Related entities

National Museum of Natural History (U.S.): She was a Research Associate in the National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology from the late 1970s through 1996.

Birth Date

1922

Death Date

1996

Topic

  • Zoology
  • Entomologists
  • Biologists

Form/Genre

Personal name

Occupation

  • Biologists
  • Entomologists
  • Zoologists