Former Nsf Director to Speak on Human Health and the Environment

Note to Editors: Please contact Emily Narvaes Wilmsen to arrange an interview with Rita Colwell.

The former director of the National Science Foundation – a $6 billion federal program that funds advancements in science – will speak at Colorado State University on Wednesday, Sept. 7, as part of the Distinguished Women in Science Lecture Series.

Rita Colwell, who served as the 11th chairwoman of the NSF from 1998 to 2004, will present two free lectures:

11-11:50 a.m., Room W118, Anatomy/Zoology Building: Her talk on "Diversity in Science: Science and Society in the 21st Century" will look at how science, engineering and technology have become interdisciplinary and multicultural.

4-5 p.m., West Ballroom, Lory Student Center: Colwell, who is developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues such as safe drinking water for developed and undeveloped nations, will discuss "Global Climate and Human Health." A reception will follow.

"Dr. Colwell is a visionary scientist who is making important contributions to the study of infectious diseases and their relationship to environmental factors," said Diana Wall, director of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory in the College of Natural Resources at Colorado State. "Her work encourages women to explore positions of responsibility and leadership in what has traditionally been a male-dominated scientific community."

Colwell is the chairwoman of the board of directors of Canon US Life Sciences Inc., an Arlington, Va.-based company that plans to identify and develop life sciences solutions with potential applications in diagnostics and medical instrumentation. She is a distinguished professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Under her leadership, the National Science Foundation  received significant budget increases.

"The surest way to keep our nation prosperous and secure is to keep it at the forefront of learning and discovery," Colwell told members of Congress in a budget hearing in February 2004. "That is NSF’s business – to educate and train scientists and engineers, advance fundamental research and engineering, and provide the tools to accomplish both."

The National Science Foundation awarded Colorado State researchers about $19.7 million in fiscal year 2005 – the university’s third largest sponsor behind the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Kathi Delehoy, associate vice president for research.