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Rita R. Colwell

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Title: Rita R. Colwell  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: National Women's Hall of Fame, Henrietta Szold, Beverly, Massachusetts, Mildred Cohn, Chien-Shiung Wu
Collection: 1934 Births, American Microbiologists, Fellows of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, Johns Hopkins University Faculty, Living People, Members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, National Medal of Science Laureates, Purdue University Alumni, University of Maryland, College Park Faculty, University of Washington Alumni, Women Microbiologists
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Rita R. Colwell

Rita R. Colwell
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

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 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 Archived November 7, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ US public health pioneer wins Stockholm Water Prize
  7. ^ Membership Roster - Council on Foreign Relations
  • "Rita Colwell". InterViews. National Academy of Sciences. 1999. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  • Brumfiel, Geoff (February 2004). "Colwell calls time on 'wonderful run' at NSF".  
  • Mervis, Jeffrey (February 2004). "National Science Foundation. Colwell steps down, Bement named Acting Director".  
  • Mervis, J (January 2001). "National Science Foundation. Transition rumor targets Colwell".  

External links

  • Interview with Colwell on the Marketing for Scientists blog
  • Video clip from the International Conference on Complex Systems, hosted by the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI)
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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