Margaret Burbidge, born in England and educated at the University of London, is a British-born American astrophysicist noted for original research and holding many administrative posts, including Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. During her career, she served at the University of London Observatory, Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago, the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, the California Institute of Technology, and, from 1979 to 1988, was first director of the Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences at the University of California San Diego. In 1976, she became the first woman president of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). In 1981 she was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
In 1982 she was the first woman to receive the ASP’s highest honor: The Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to astronomy – the first woman to receive the prize since it was established in 1898.
Her research accomplishments include, demonstrating how all of the elements except the very lightest are produced by nuclear reactions in stellar interiors, studying the spectra of galaxies and determining their rotations, masses, and chemical composition, and studying the spectrum of quasars. She also played a major role in developing instrumentation for the Hubble Space Telescope and advocated for gender equity in astronomy.
Happy Birthday, Margaret!