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Rita R. Colwell

Rita R. Colwell
File:Rita Colwell.jpg
Rita R. Colwell in 2011.
Born November 23, 1934
Beverly, Massachusetts
Nationality United States
Fields microbiology
Institutions National Science Foundation
Alma mater University of Washington
Doctoral advisor Template:If empty

Rita Rossi Colwell (born November 23, 1934 in Beverly, Massachusetts) is an environmental microbiologist and scientific administrator. From 1998 to 2004 she was the 11th Director of the United States National Science Foundation (NSF).[1]


Dr. Colwell has an undergraduate degree in bacteriology and an M.S. in genetics from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington.[2] She did a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa. In 2004, she received an honorary Sc.D. from Bates College, one of 55 honorary degrees she has been conferred with. She served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society for Microbiology. She is a member of the (US) National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (since 2003). As of 2008, she serves as President of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

In 2004 Dr. Colwell left her position as Director of NSF to become the chief scientist at Canon U.S. Life Sciences, a division of Canon. As of 2008, she was the Chairman of Canon U.S. Life Sciences. She also returned to academic life as a Distinguished Professor at University of Maryland, College Park, as well as at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2006, Dr. Colwell received the National Medal of Science[3] from United States President George W. Bush. She was the 2008 Leonard Brockington Visitor to Queen's University.

She has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 700 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film Invisible Seas.[4]

She is a foreign fellow of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences [5]

She is the 2010 recipient of the Stockholm Water Prize for her contributions to solving water-related public health problems.[6] She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations,[7] a prominent think tank based in New York City.


  1. ^ "Biography:Rita R. Colwell". National Science Foundation Biography. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Biography:Rita R. Colwell". National Science Foundation Biography. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  3. ^ National Science Foundation - The President's National Medal of Science
  4. ^ "Rita Rossi Colwell". Women of the hall. National Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  5. ^ List of Fellows of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences[dead link]
  6. ^ US public health pioneer wins Stockholm Water Prize
  7. ^ Membership Roster - Council on Foreign Relations

External links

Preceded by
Francisco J. Ayala
President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Succeeded by
Jane Lubchenco
Preceded by
Neal Lane
Director of the National Science Foundation
Succeeded by
Arden L. Bement Jr.

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