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Gardner, Julia Anna (1882–1960)

Gardner, Julia Anna (1882–1960)

American geologist who identified the origin of a number of Japanese bombs used during World War II. Born in 1882; died in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1960; the only child of Charles Henry (a physician) and Julia M. (Brackett) Gardner; earned a bachelor's degree from Bryn Mawr, 1905, master's degree, 1907; Johns Hopkins University, Ph.D., 1911; never married; no children.

An only child, Julia Anna Gardner lost her father when she was an infant and was raised by her mother. Money left to her by her grandmother paid her way through Bryn Mawr College, where she studied paleontology under Florence Bascom . After receiving her master's degree in 1907, Gardner enrolled in the doctoral program in paleontology at Johns Hopkins University. There, and at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, she studied invertebrates, which became a lifelong interest. After earning her Ph.D. in 1911, Gardner stayed on at Johns Hopkins as a teacher and also did research on invertebrate paleontology at the Maryland geological survey. After a brief stint as a volunteer nurse during World War I, she joined the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and remained there for the rest of her career.

In 1920, Gardner moved to Texas to study Eocene invertebrates for the USGS Coastal Plain division, advancing steadily through the ranks there throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Her greatest achievement in this nonconventional field was her work during World War II, when she identified the origin of a number of Japanese bombs by analyzing the small shells in the sand used as ballast in the incendiary balloons.

After the war, Gardner studied the geology of Japan and the Pacific Island, mapping the area for the Office of the Chief of Engineers. For a year following her retirement in 1952, she served as president of the Paleontological Society, and the next year as the vice president of the Geological Society. From 1954, she suffered from ill health. Gardner died at her home in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1960.

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