Colwell Honored with NCSE Lifetime Achievement Award

Tue Jan 12, 2016

Rita Colwell, a Distinguished University Professor in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, was recently recognized with the 2016 National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) Lifetime Achievement Award for her groundbreaking work in marine microbiology and other areas of science.

The NCSE is a nonprofit organization that links environmental scientific knowledge and policy decision-making. It confers the Lifetime Achievement Award to outstanding scientists for major contributions that advance science for the public good.

"Rita Colwell has woven multiple distinguished careers into one amazing life, being a major contributor to marine and environmental science with over five decades of research on oceans and their impact on human health," said Margaret Leinen, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in a news release.

Colwell’s work has had particular impact in several areas, Leinen says.

"Her research on marine microbiology during the 1980s and 1990s led the way to an explosive growth in the field during the 2000s," Leinen says. "She was an early pioneer in understanding oil spill effects on the ocean and their implications for human health. Rita innovated in the fields of biotechnology and biomedicine as a researcher and as a private entrepreneur."

Colwell will receive the award later this month at the 16th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment in Washington, D.C.

Complementing Colwell’s prolific research career has been her role as an innovative and creative leader and administrator at the university, state and national levels. Her leadership at the National Science Foundation substantially enhanced opportunities for interdisciplinary research across the nation, and emphasized the importance of a diverse scientific community on creativity.

Colwell has authored or co-authored 17 books, more than 750 scientific publications, and has been awarded 55 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education. In 2006, she received the National Medal of Science awarded by the President of the United States.