Margaret S. Collins
|Margaret S. Collins|
Margaret S. Collins conducting an experiment.
September 4, 1922|
Institute, West Virginia
April 27, 1996 (aged 73)|
|Alma mater||West Virginia State University|
Margaret James Strickland Collins (September 4, 1922 – April 27, 1996) was an African-American child prodigy, entomologist (zoologist) specializing in the study of termites, and a civil rights advocate. Collins was responsible, together with her colleague David Nickle, for identifying a new species, the Neotermes luykxi (the Florida dampwood termite).
Life and work
Collins was born in 1922 in Institute, West Virginia. She started college at age fourteen and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from West Virginia State University in 1943. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Chicago in 1950, becoming only the third Black woman zoologist in the country. Her mentor was Alfred E. Emerson. Her dissertation was Difference in toleration of drying between species of termites (Reticulitermes), with an article based on this work in Ecology, the journal of the Ecological Society of America.
Collins taught at Florida A&M University and at Howard University. She saw herself primarily as a field scientist, and did extensive field work in North and South America, specializing in the insects of Guyana and Florida. From the late 1970s through 1996, Collins was a research associate in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology. Her primary area of study was termites of the Caribbean. Her life's research regarding termites included: the evolution of desiccation resistance in termites; various termite species' tolerance of high temperatures; defensive behavior in South American termites, including chemical defenses; termite ecology; species abundance in virgin and disturbed tropical rain forests; and behavioral ecology, taxonomy, and entomology.
She was also an active civil rights advocate, receiving a bomb threat for planning to give a university talk on biology and equality, and being followed by the police and FBI when she was a volunteer driver during a bus boycott. Her activism limited her scientific work for a time: she had been publishing a scientific paper or two a year, but had no publications between 1952 and 1957. She led a 1979 AAAS symposium in Houston, later published as Science and the Question of Human Equality.
- Collins, M. S., Wainer, I. W., & Bremner, T. A. (1981). Science and the Question of Human Equality. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press. ISBN 9780891589525
- Water relations in termites. Chapter in Krishna K, Weesner F (ed). Biology of Termites (1969).
- Lewis, VR. Child Prodigy, Pioneer Scientist, and Women and Civil Rights Advocate: Dr. Margaret James Strickland Collins (1922–1996). Florida Entomologist, 2016; 99(2): 334-336.
- Warren, Wini. Black Women Scientists in the United States. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Pages 52–65. ISBN 9780253336033
- Lewis, Vernard R. (June 2016). "Child Prodigy, Pioneer Scientist, and Women and Civil Rights Advocate: Dr. Margaret James Strickland Collins (1922–1996)". Florida Entomologist. 99 (2): 334–336. doi:10.1653/024.099.0235.
- Carey, Charles W. (2008). African Americans in Science: An Encyclopedia of People and Progress. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. pp. 51–52. ISBN 9781851099986.
- "Florida dampwood termites". Featured Creatures. University of Florida.
- Warren, Wini (1999). Black Women Scientists in the United States. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. pp. 52–66. ISBN 0-253-33603-1.
- Strickland, Margaret (1950). Difference in toleration of drying between species of termites (Reticulitermes). Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
- Strickland, Margaret (July 1950). "Differences in Toleration of Drying between Species of Termites (Reticulitermes)". Ecology. 31 (3): 373–385. doi:10.2307/1931492.
- "SIA Acc. 01-038, National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Dept. of Entomology, Curatorial Records, 1959-1996". Smithsonian Institution Archives. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Staff (February 5, 1959). "Studies Termites". Jet. 15 (14). p. 25. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
- Collins, Margaret S.; Wainer,, Irving W.; Bremner, Theodore A. (1981). Science and the question of human equality. Boulder, Colo.: Westview. ISBN 9780891589525. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
- "Termite expert Margaret Collins dies during trip". Washington Post. May 5, 1996. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
- Krishna, Kumar; Weesner, Frances M. (1969). Biology of Termites. Burlington: Elsevier Science. ISBN 9780323144582.