Dr. Rita Colwell is Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Global Science Officer and Chairman of CosmosID, Inc. Her interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health. Dr. Colwell served as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, 1998-2004. Dr. Colwell has held many advisory positions in the U.S. Government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. She has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 800 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film, Invisible Seas, and has served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. Dr. Colwell has been awarded 58 honorary degrees, and is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, the 2006 National Medal of Science, and the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize. A geological site in Antarctica, Colwell Massif, has been named in recognition of her work in the Polar Regions. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Dr. Colwell holds a B.S. in Bacteriology and an M.S. in Genetics from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Washington.

Research Interests

Marine biotechnology and molecular microbial ecology and systematics; marine and estuarine microbial ecology; survival of pathogens in the aquatic environment; ecology of Vibrio cholerae and related microorganisms; microbial genomics and phylogeny; bioremediation; release of genetically engineered microorganisms to the environment.

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Primary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology