Margaret S. Collins, 74, a retired professor of zoology who worked as a Smithsonian research associate, died of congestive heart failure April 27 at Southern Cross Club on Little Cayman, Cayman Islands.
Dr. Collins, who lived in Washington, was leading a research team in the West Indies as part of her study of termites in the tropical forests of the Cayman Islands for the museum's department of entomology. She had been traveling to the Cayman Islands since 1990.
Known as the "Termite Lady" for her expertise in the field, she had just finished a short course book entitled "Biology of the Caribbean Termites." She also wrote "Science and the Question of Human Equality" and has appeared on television in educational programs. Her research findings on termites have been published in scientific journals.
She retired in 1983 after 35 years as a professor of zoology at three universities. She taught at Howard University from 1963 to 1969 and again from 1977 until her retirement in 1983. She was a professor and dean of the zoology department at Florida A&M University in the early 1960s and also taught and was an administrator at Federal City College in Washington from 1969 to 1976.
While teaching at Florida A&M, a historically black school, she became involved in civil rights efforts. After she spoke once at a nearby white university on genetics and molecular biology, the department where she was dean received a bomb threat.
In the late 1970s, she began research expeditions to rain forests in Guyana and starting working with the staff and collections at the Smithsonian.
She was born in Institute, W.Va., where her father was a professor of agriculture. As a child, she demonstrated a strong interest in nature and began studying biology at West Virginia State College at age 14. She received bachelor's and master's degrees in biology from that college and a doctorate in biology from the University of Chicago.
Her marriage to Herbert Louis Collins Sr. ended in divorce.
Survivors include a sister, Ellen Russell James of West Virginia; two sons, Herbert Louis Collins Jr. of Clinton and James Collins of Washington; and two grandchildren.