Dr. Bascom was the second woman to earn her Ph.D in geology in the United States, and the first woman hired by the United States Geological Survey. Apart from being one of the first females to master in Geology, she was known for her innovative findings in this field. Additionally, she pioneered the use of microscopes in the study of minerals and rocks.
Dr. Bascom was an expert in crystallography, mineralogy, and petrography. Trained by Roland Irving and Charles Van Hise (University of Wisconsin), George Huntington Williams (Johns Hopkins), and Victor Goldschmidt (Heidelberg, Germany), who were all considered to be leaders in metamorphism and crystallography, she worked in these fields during their infancy. Her earliest contribution to her chosen field was her dissertation, in which she showed that rocks previously thought to be sediments were actually metamorphosed lava flows. She published more than 40 research papers, including USGS Bulletins and Folios during her career.
She was the first female geologist to present a paper before the Geological Survey of Washington, in 1901. She was also the first woman elected to the Council of the Geological Survey of America, in 1924. She started her college teaching career in 1884 at the Hampton School of Negroes and American Indians (now Hampton University), working there for a year before returning to university of Wisconsin a Master’s degree. She taught mathematics and science at Rockford College from 1887 to 1889, and later at Ohio State University from 1893 to 1895. Dr. Bascom was recruited in 1895 to teach at Bryn Mawr, where she became a professor of geology and remained for 33 years.