Dr. Ada Hayden


Dr. Ada Hayden

“She had a lifelong love affair with prairies and
all elements of the open Iowa landscape.”
–Dr. Lois Tiffany, 2002

After being the first woman to obtain her Ph.D. at Iowa State University in 1918, Ada Hayden was appointed as assistant professor in botany in 1919. She also conducted research on Iowa’s plants and ecology, publishing nearly 30 papers based on these studies. “A Botanical Survey in the Iowa Lake Region of Clay and Palo Alto Counties” was published in 1943 and is heralded by many authorities as one of the best surveys of Iowa flora. She was also a talented artist and photographer. She devoted much of her time and energy to the Iowa State Herbarium and added over 10,000 high-quality specimens that she personally collected; the Herbarius was named in her honor in 1988. In 2004, Ames dedicated one of its largest parks as the Ada Hayden Heritage Park. Hayden was also keen on environmental conservation, and one of her well known reports was titled “The Selection of Prairie Areas in Iowa Which Should Be Preserved.” Several of the natural Iowa landscape areas she described have since been purchased and designated as state preserves. Born on August 14, 1884, Hayden died on August 12, 1950. After her death, a 200-acre preserve in Howard County was named in her honor. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2007.