Rita Colwell is a Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, senior advisor and chairman emeritus at Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., and president and CEO of CosmosID, Inc.
Her research interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health. Colwell is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world.
Colwell served as the eleventh director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1998 to 2004. In her capacity as NSF director, she served as co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council.
One of Colwell's major interests is K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education, and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering.
She has held many advisory positions in the U.S. government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. Colwell is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 750 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film, "Invisible Seas," and has served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals.
Before joining NSF, Colwell was president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and a professor of microbiology and biotechnology. She was also a member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990.
Colwell has previously served as chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology, as well as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Microbiology, the Sigma Xi National Science Honorary Society, and the International Union of Microbiological Societies. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She is immediate past-president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).
Colwell has been awarded 55 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education, including her alma mater, Purdue University. She is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, bestowed by the Emperor of Japan; the 2006 National Medal of Science, awarded by the President of the United States; and the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize, awarded by the King of Sweden.
Colwell is an honorary member of the microbiological societies of the UK, Australia, France, Israel, Bangladesh, Czechoslovakia, Royal Irish Academy and the U.S. She has held several honorary professorships, including the University of Queensland, Australia. A geological site in Antarctica, called Colwell Massif, has been named in recognition of her work in the polar regions.
2012. Conversion of viable but nonculturable enteric bacteria to culturable by co‐culture with eukaryotic cells. Microbiology and Immunology. 56(5):342-345.
2012. Vibrio Cholerae Classical Biotype Strains Reveal Distinct Signatures in Mexico. Journal of Clinical MicrobiologyJ. Clin. Microbiol..
2012. Role of Shrimp Chitin in the Ecology of Toxigenic Vibrio cholerae and Cholera Transmission. Frontiers in MicrobiologyFront Microbiol. 2
2012. Genomic analysis of ICEVchBan8: An atypical genetic element in Vibrio cholerae. FEBS Letters.
2012. Occurrence of protozoans & their limnological relationships in some ponds of Mathbaria, Bangladesh. University Journal of Zoology, Rajshahi University. 29(1):69-71.
2011. Long-term effects of ocean warming on the prokaryotic community: evidence from the vibrios. The ISME Journal. 6(1):21-30.
2011. Vibrio Cholerae O1 Detection in Estuarine and Coastal Zooplankton. Journal of Plankton ResearchJ. Plankton Res.. 33(1):51-62.
2011. The Importance of Chitin in the Marine Environment. Marine Biotechnology. :1-8.
2011. Interaction of Vibrio cholerae non-O1/non-O139 with Copepods, Cladocerans and Competing Bacteria in the Large Alkaline Lake Neusiedler See, Austria. Microbial ecology. 61(3):496-506.
2011. Aquatic Realm and Cholera. Epidemiological and Molecular Aspects on Cholera. :311-339.
2011. Clonal transmission, dual peak, and off-season cholera in Bangladesh. Infection Ecology & Epidemiology. 1
2011. Metagenomic 16S rDNA Targeted PCR-DGGE in Determining Bacterial Diversity in Aquatic Ecosystem. Bangladesh Journal of Microbiology. 27(2)
2011. Temperature regulation of virulence factors in the pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus. The ISME Journal. 6(4):835-846.
2011. Role of Zooplankton Diversity in Vibrio Cholerae Population Dynamics and in the Incidence of Cholera in the Bangladesh Sundarbans. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 77(17):6125-6132.
2011. Warming Oceans, Phytoplankton, and River Discharge: Implications for Cholera Outbreaks. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and HygieneAm J Trop Med Hyg. 85(2):303-308.
2011. Population Dynamics of Vibrio Cholerae and Cholera in the Bangladesh Sundarbans: Role of Zooplankton Diversity. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol..
2010. Environmental reservoirs of Vibrio cholerae and their role in cholera. Environmental Microbiology Reports. 2(1):27-33.
2010. Comparative genomic analysis reveals evidence of two novel Vibrio species closely related to V. cholerae. BMC Microbiology. 10
2010. Comparative Genomics of Clinical and Environmental Vibrio Mimicus. Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesPNAS. 107(49):21134-21139.
2010. Genome Sequence of Hybrid Vibrio Cholerae O1 MJ-1236, B-33, and CIRS101 and Comparative Genomics with V. Cholerae. Journal of BacteriologyJ. Bacteriol.. 192(13):3524-3533.
2010. Effect on Human Cells of Environmental Vibrio Parahaemolyticus Strains Carrying Type III Secretion System 2. Infection and ImmunityInfect. Immun.. 78(7):3280-3287.
2010. Conversion of viable but nonculturable Vibrio cholerae to the culturable state by co‐culture with eukaryotic cells. Microbiology and Immunology. 54(9):502-507.
2010. Discovery of novel Vibrio cholerae VSP‐II genomic islands using comparative genomic analysis. FEMS Microbiology Letters. 308(2):130-137.
2010. Identification of Pathogenic Vibrio Species by Multilocus PCR-Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry and Its Application to Aquatic Environments of the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 76(6):1996-2001.
2010. Diversity and distribution of cholix toxin, a novel ADP‐ribosylating factor from Vibrio cholerae. Environmental Microbiology Reports. 2(1):198-207.
2010. The pre‐seventh pandemic Vibrio cholerae BX 330286 El Tor genome: evidence for the environment as a genome reservoir. Environmental Microbiology Reports. 2(1):208-216.
2010. Serodiversity and ecological distribution of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in the Venetian Lagoon, Northeast Italy. Environmental Microbiology Reports. 2(1):151-157.
2010. Occurrence of the Vibrio cholerae seventh pandemic VSP-I island and a new variant. OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology. 14(1):1-7.
2009. Serogroup, Virulence, and Genetic Traits of Vibrio Parahaemolyticus in the Estuarine Ecosystem of Bangladesh. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 75(19):6268-6274.
2009. Detection of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1 in freshwater lakes of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Environmental Microbiology Reports. 2(1):2-6.
2009. RNA Colony Blot Hybridization Method for Enumeration of Culturable Vibrio Cholerae and Vibrio Mimicus Bacteria. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 75(17):5439-5444.
2009. Using Satellite Images of Environmental Changes to Predict Infectious Disease Outbreaks. Emerging Infectious DiseasesEmerg Infect Dis. 15(9):1341-1346.
2009. Analysis of clonally related environmental Vibrio cholerae O1 El Tor isolated before 1992 from Varanasi, India reveals origin of SXT‐ICEs belonging to O139 and O1 serogroups. Environmental Microbiology Reports. 2(1):50-57.
2009. New records of phytoplankton for Bangladesh. 9. Some rare and a new species. Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy. 16(1)
2009. Microbial oceanography in a sea of opportunity. Nature. 459(7244):180-184.
2009. Biological agent detection technologies. Molecular Ecology Resources. 9(s1):51-57.
2009. Diversity and Seasonality of Bioluminescent Vibrio Cholerae Populations in Chesapeake Bay. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 75(1):135-146.
2009. Determination of relationships among non-toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1 biotype El Tor strains from housekeeping gene sequences and ribotype patterns. Research in Microbiology. 160(1):57-62.
2009. Predicting the distribution of Vibrio spp. in the Chesapeake Bay: a Vibrio cholerae case study. EcoHealth. 6(3):378-389.
2009. The Genus Vibrio and Related Genera. Practical handbook of microbiologyPractical handbook of microbiology. :267-267.
2009. Viable but not cultivable bacteria. Uncultivated Microorganisms. :121-129.
2009. Comparative genomics reveals mechanism for short-term and long-term clonal transitions in pandemic Vibrio cholerae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106(36):15442-15447.
2008. New records of phytoplankton for Bangladesh. 8. Trachelomonas Ehr. (Euglenophyceae). Bangladesh Journal of Botany. 37(2)
2008. Environmental signatures associated with cholera epidemics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105(46):17676-17676.
2008. The Complete Genome Sequence of Thermococcus Onnurineus NA1 Reveals a Mixed Heterotrophic and Carboxydotrophic Metabolism. Journal of BacteriologyJ. Bacteriol.. 190(22):7491-7499.
2008. Silent Sputnik. BioScience. 58(1):3-3.
2008. New records of phytoplankton for Bangladesh. 7. Phacus spp.. Bangladesh Journal of Botany. 37(1)
2008. The marine environment and human health: the cholera model. Global Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: Understanding the Contributions to Infectious Disease EmergenceGlobal Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: Understanding the Contributions to Infectious Disease Emergence.
2008. New records of phytoplankton for Bangladesh. 2. Cryptophyceae and Synurophyceae. Bangladesh Journal of Botany. 36(1)
2008. Determination of Clonality and Relatedness of Vibrio Cholerae Isolates by Genomic Fingerprinting, Using Long-Range Repetitive Element Sequence-Based PCR. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 74(17):5392-5401.
2008. New records of phytoplankton for Bangladesh. 5. Euglena, Euglenocapsa. Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy. 15(1)
2008. Global impact of Vibrio cholerae interactions with chitin. Environmental Microbiology. 10(6):1400-1410.
2008. Dual role colonization factors connecting Vibrio cholerae's lifestyles in human and aquatic environments open new perspectives for combating infectious diseases. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 19(3):254-259.
2008. Biofilms in water, its role and impact in human disease transmission. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 19(3):244-247.
2008. Covariability of Vibrio Cholerae Microdiversity and Environmental Parameters. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 74(9):2915-2920.
2008. Seasonal Cholera from Multiple Small Outbreaks, Rural Bangladesh. Emerging Infectious DiseasesEmerg Infect Dis. 14(5):831-833.
2008. Environmental Vibrio spp., isolated in Mozambique, contain a polymorphic group of integrative conjugative elements and class 1 integrons. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 64(1):45-54.
2008. Vibrio cholerae non‐O1, non‐O139 strains isolated before 1992 from Varanasi, India are multiple drug resistant, contain intSXT, dfr18 and aadA5 genes. Environmental Microbiology. 10(4):866-873.
2008. Occurrence and Expression of Luminescence in Vibrio Cholerae. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 74(3):708-715.
2008. A simple binomial test for estimating sequencing errors in public repository 16S rRNA sequences. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 72(2):166-179.
2008. Transesterification activity of a novel lipase from Acinetobacter venetianus RAG-1. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. 94(4):621-625.
2007. Association of Vibrio Cholerae O1 El Tor and O139 Bengal with the Copepods Acartia Tonsa and Eurytemora Affinis. Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.. 73(24):7926-7933.
2007. New records of phytoplankton for Bangladesh. 4. Chlorococcales. Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy. 14(2)
2007. New records of phytoplankton for Bangladesh. 3. Volvocales. Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy. 14(1)
2007. Recovery in culture of viable but nonculturable Vibrio parahaemolyticus: regrowth or resuscitation? The ISME Journal. 1(2):111-120.
2007. Ultrastructure of coccoid viable but non‐culturable Vibrio cholerae. Environmental Microbiology. 9(2):393-402.
2007. Bridging art and science with creativity support tools. Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & cognition. :309-309.
2007. Creating a nationwide wireless detection sensor network for chemical, biological and radiological threats. Gentag White Paper.
2007. Viable but nonculturable Vibrio cholerae O1 in biofilms in the aquatic environment and their role in cholera transmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104(45):17801-17801.