Throughout her career, Dr Rita Colwell has been focused on global infectious diseases, health and water. She has tirelessly worked on an international level to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, collaborating with Safe Water Network to develop safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world.
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. Dr. Colwell has also served as the President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University Maryland, as well as being a member of the National National Science Board from 1984 to 1990.
Between 1998-2004, Dr. Colwell served as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, also serving as Co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. She also serves as Chair of the Research Board for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (2010-2020).