Margaret D. Foster

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Margaret D. Foster
Margaret D. Foster, in Lab, 4 October 1919.jpg
working in the lab in 1919
Born (1895-03-04)March 4, 1895
Chicago, Illinois
Died November 5, 1970(1970-11-05) (aged 75)
Silver Spring, Maryland
Citizenship American
Institutions United States Geological Survey;
Manhattan Project
Alma mater Illinois College

Margaret Dorothy Foster (March 4, 1895 – November 5, 1970) was an American chemist. She was the first female chemist to work for the United States Geological Survey, and was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project.


She was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was James Edward Foster and mother was Minnie MacAuley Foster. She graduated from Illinois College, George Washington University and from American University, with a Ph.D.[1]

Beginning in 1918, she became the first female chemist to work on the United States Geological Survey, developing ways to detect minerals within naturally occurring bodies of water.[2] In 1942, she worked on the Manhattan Project in the Chemistry and Physics Section, under Roger C. Wells, developing two new techniques of quantitative analysis, one for uranium and one for thorium,[3] as well as two new ways to separate the two elements.[2] Upon her return to the Geological Survey after the war, she researched the chemistry of clay minerals and micas.[2] She retired in March 1965.[1]

She died at Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, Maryland.[1]



  1. ^ a b c Fahey, Joseph J. (March–April 1971). "Memorial of Margaret D. Foster" (PDF). The American Mineralogist. Mineralogical Society of America. 56: 686–690. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Ruth H. Howes, Caroline L. Herzenberg (2003). Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project. Temple University Press. p. 91-2. 
  3. ^ D, Foster, Margaret; sysadmin (1 January 1919). "Margaret D. Foster (1895-1970)". 

External links[edit]

Media related to Margaret D. Foster at Wikimedia Commons