Public contact information

University of Maryland College Park, 3103 Biomolecular Sciences Blg 296, College Park, Maryland USA 20742.

Fellow CV
List of Publications


Prof. Dr. Rita R Colwell

(Foreign Fellow, )

United States of America (USA)
United States of America (USA)

Rita R. Colwell was born on 23 November 1934. Parents’ name; Louis Rossi / Luisa Rossi.

She earned B.S. (with distinction), on Bacteriology, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, 1956; M.S. Genetics, Purdue University, 1958; Ph.D. Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, 1961; Guest Scientist, National Research Council of Canada, 1961-1963; Field of Specialization and Research; Microbiology/Genetics.

She was in 1961-1964, Assistant Research Professor, University of Washington, Guest Scientist, Division of Applied Biology, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa; 1963-1964, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Georgetown University; 1964-1966, Assistant Professor of Biology, Georgetown University; 1966-1972, Associate Professor of Biology, with tenure, Georgetown University; 1972- Professor of Microbiology, with tenure, University of Maryland; 1977-1983, Director, University of Maryland Sea Grant College; 1980-1981, Acting Director, Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies; 1983-1987, Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Maryland; 1987-1991, Founding Director, Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland; 1987-1991, Founding Director, Maryland Biotechnology Institute, University of Maryland; 1998-2004, Director, National Science Foundation; 2004-Present, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland; 2004-Present, Distinguished University Professor, Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Colwell is recognized for her study of global infectious diseases through water sources and its impacts on global health. Through this research, she has developed an international network that has brought attention to the emergence of new infectious diseases in drinking/bathing water, pertaining mostly to its role on the developing world.

Colwell has proposed ways people in the developing world can use inexpensive methods to filter water when water treatment facilities are not available. In one study spanning about 3 years, 65 villages in rural Bangladesh comprising 133,000 individuals, participated in an experiment in which they used folded sari cloth or nylon mesh filters placed over water pots to acquire safe drinking water from their local water ways. These inexpensive and readily available materials yielded a 48% reduction in cholera, when compared with the control: absence of any type of filter.

She has over 800 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 20 books.

In 1992, she became Honorary Life Member, Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists; 2002, Bergey Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Bacterial Taxonomy; 2004, AIBS Outstanding Service Award; 2004, Central Intelligence Agency Civilian Recognition Award; 2005, Induction, National Women’s Hall of Fame; 2005, Honorary Member, World Innovation Foundation; 2006, “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star,” Awarded by the Emperor of Japan; 2007, David B. Stone Medal, New England Aquarium; 2007, 2006 National Medal of Science, Awarded by President Bush; 2010, Stockholm Water Prize, awarded by the King of Sweden; 2014, Prize Medal, Society for General Microbiology, Liverpool, England, UK; 2016, Drexel University Prize in Infectious Disease; 2016, Malaysian Academy of Science Mahthir Science Award for Scientific Excellence in Work in the Tropical Regions; 2016, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, Creativity Prize, Saudi Arabia;

She became in 2017, Fellow, National Academy of Inventors, Boston, Massachusetts; 2017, Honorary Member, New York Academy of Science; 2017, Vannevar Bush Award, National Science Board and National Science Foundation; 2017, Honorary Member, American Meteorological Society; 2017, International Prize for Biology, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan; 2017, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (“Knight of the Legion of Honor”), France; 2018, Honorary Member, American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists; 2018, Foremother Award, National Center for Health Research,  Washington DC; 2018, Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore) Water Prize, Singapore; 2020, William Bowie Medal, American Geophysical Union

To date 64 honorary degrees have been conferred on her. Countries visited; Too many to list!

United States of America (USA)
Last updated on 23/01/2022