The Burbidge is named in honour of Margaret Burbidge, a British-American observational astronomer and astrophysicist. In the 1950s, together with her husband Geoffrey, William Alfred Fowler and Fred Hoyle at the University of Cambridge, she helped develop landmark research into stellar nucleosynthesis, which is the creation of elements via nuclear fusion with stars.
Burbidge would go on to hold several prominent positions throughout her career. In 1962, she joined the University of California San Diego (UCSD), where she continued her research. It was here she discovered quasar QSO B1442+101, which at the time was the most distant known object from Earth.
Burbidge was a keen campaigner against gender discrimination in astronomy, something she, unfortunately, had personal experience of. This extended to both positive and negative discrimination against women, and in 1972 she turned down an award from the American Astronomical Society because it was awarded to women only.
In the 1980s, Burbidge helped to develop the Faint Object Spectrograph for the Hubble Space Telescope. With this, she and her team discovered that the galaxy Messier 82 contains a supermassive black hole at its centre.