Rita Colwell

Distinguished University Professor



Office Phone: 301.405.9550


Graduate Program Affiliations

  • BISI - BISI-Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, & Genomics (CBBG)
  • BISI - BISI-Molecular & Cellular Biology (MOCB)
  • MEES
  • AOSC
  • School of Public Health, Department of Applied Environmental Health

Research Interests

Research interests focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health. Currently developing an international network to address climate change and infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world.

Other interests include K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering.  

Special Awards / Honors

  • 2006 National Medal of Science (given by President George W. Bush)
  • 2010 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate
  • AAAS, President, American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
  • President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Maryland’s Top 100 Women
  • Maryland’s Top 100 Women Hall of Fame
  • Elected Member National Academy of Sciences
  • Foreign Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada, Swedish Royal Academy of Science, Bangladesh Academy of Science
  • Fellow AAAS, AAM
  • AIBS Outstanding Service Award
  • Central Intelligence Agency Civilian Recognition Award
  • National Women’s Hall of Fame
  • “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star,” awarded by the Emperor of Japan
  • President, American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS)
  • AAUW Award (American Association of University Women)
  • Medal of Distinction from Columbia University
  • Gold Medal of Charles University, Prague
  • UCLA Medal from the University of California, Los Angeles
  • Alumna Summa Laude Dignata from the University of Washington, Seattle 
  • Honorary Doctor of Science (58 universities and colleges)


  • B.S., Bacteriology, Purdue University
  • M.S., Genetics, Purdue University
  • Ph.D., Oceanography, University of Washington