Cincinnati native Margaret H. Fulford (1904-1999) was an internationally renowned botanist and was recognized as a world-wide authority on bryology (specifically the study of Latin American liverworts). At the University of Cincinnati, Fulford earned two bachelor’s degrees in education and botany, followed by a master’s degree in botany. During her botany studies, Fulford worked with pioneering botanist, Dr. E. Lucy Braun. Together, these hardworking women of science were responsible for spearheading the development of an officially recognized herbarium at UC in 1927. After earning her Ph.D. at Yale University, Fulford returned to UC as a botany professor, where she continued to teach, conduct research, and inspire future botanists. Fulford was appointed as curator of the herbarium in 1927 and held this position through her Ph.D. studies and until her retirement in 1974.
During her career, she collected over 8,000 liverwort specimens, described 130 species new to science, and wrote the 4-volume Manual of the Leafy Hepaticae of Latin America, which remains an important reference. These books contain hundreds of Fulford’s illustrations, which were drawn from meticulously prepared microscope slides. Fulford won numerous national and international awards acknowledging her distinguished career.
In a tribute written by the Department of Biological Sciences in 1974, Fulford’s pioneering nature was acknowledged. “In years when women’s rights were not recognized as they are today, Margaret reached heights of recognition excelled by few women, for her contribution to science. She has always been a staunch believer and advocate of acknowledgement of works rather than [acknowledgement of] sex, color, or field of contribution. Her colleagues in science at the University of Cincinnati realized her contribution and in 1958 she was voted a Fellow in the Graduate School, being the first woman to attain that status-.”