Margaret (Marge) Cavanaugh

    November 2006:

    Marge CavanaughDr. Margaret (Marge) Cavanaugh is currently the Deputy Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia. Marge has been at NSF for 17 years. She enjoys interacting with the many people who work and visit NSF and especially mentoring the young scientists who intern there. Marge also likes "knowing where science is going and what may come in the future. Science administration is fun!" She likes to enable things and to meet the dedicated people who interact with her.

    Prior to joining the staff at NSF, Marge was Professor of Chemistry and Chairman of the chemistry department at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She was at Saint Mary's for 14 years. She found that she enjoyed administration at Saint Mary's, and realized that her opportunities at the small college had prepared her to take on additional challenges. She moved into government when the opportunity presented itself.

    This Ohio native received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and her Ph.D. degree from Catholic University of America. She followed this with a postdoctoral appointment with Dr. Mary Good at Louisiana State University in New Orleans in inorganic chemistry. Marge says she entered the field of chemistry because a good female high school chemistry teacher had instilled her own love for it into Marge. When she entered college freshman chemistry she had a wonderful male chemistry teacher.  Her college professor paid attention to the all the women chemistry students and made them feel special. Marge reported that a number of these freshman chemistry students have stuck together over the years.

    She elected to enter the academic field and teach because she "liked the interactions with students and thought that it was neat!" While she was doing her post doc work, she had the opportunity to do some teaching and enjoyed the interactions with the other professors and the group meetings where senior professors and instructors would coordinate instruction and learn from each other. In the post doc setting the entire group of instructors were using common tests and texts. Marge said, "Her philosophy of chemical education includes hands on inquiry and accommodating multiple learning styles." She recognizes that individuals have different learning styles and need a variety of experiences. She feels that it is important for women to be involved in academia because "Young people need role models and mentoring. The academy is open to everyone! If it is too narrow in people or ideas, it won't be as exciting or as powerful as it could be!"

    When asked about her honors, Dr. Cavanaugh said she is proud that she was the first recipient of the American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Women in Science in 1995. She has over 25 refereed publications. Members of Iota Sigma Pi know Margaret Cavanaugh as having served as National President of Iota Sigma Pi from 1990 to 1993.

    She stated that her interesting plans for the near future include attending conferences in a variety of disciplines and the National American Chemical Society Meetings. When she is not doing science or chemistry Marge enjoys time with her husband, Joe, and Mitzi, their Bichon Frise dog, and continuing to work on learning Spanish.   

    Next time you are at a conference or National Chemical Meeting, look to see if you can talk with Dr. Margaret Cavanaugh. 

    — Written by Anne T. Sherren