President Clinton Nominee to be NSF Director Will Spend Feb. 17-18 at UMass Amherst

February 16, 1998

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AMHERST, Mass. - Rita R. Colwell, President Clinton’s choice to become the next director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), will spend Feb. 17-18 meeting with faculty, students, and administrators at the University of Massachusetts. The NSF sponsors most of the federal government’s non-medical university research.

Colwell is president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and a professor of microbiology and biotechnology at the University of Maryland. Last month Clinton nominated Colwell to become deputy director of NSF, but on Friday, Feb. 13, he said he would nominate current NSF director Neal F. Lane to be his science advisor and would nominate Colwell to take Lane’s place as NSF director.

"We are fortunate to have a scientist of Rita Colwell’s stature as a visitor and colleague," University Provost Cora B. Marrett said. "Her visit presents a wonderful opportunity for the University community."

During her visit, Colwell will meet with various groups on campus, including representatives of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, environmental sciences, and veterinary and animal sciences, and will conclude her stay with a roundtable discussion on life sciences.

The University is currently studying whether or not a College of Life Sciences should be established on campus, so Colwell’s visit at this time is especially appropriate, according to Marrett.

Born in Beverly, Mass., Colwell is a microbiologist and marine scientist, holds numerous honorary degrees, and has been president of a number of organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Microbiology, and the Washington Academy of Sciences. She is the author or editor/coeditor of 16 books and 500 scientific papers and produced the award-winning film, "Invisible Seas," a 28-minute film on marine microbiology.

She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue University and her Ph.D from the University of Washington. She has been affiliated with the University of Maryland since 1972.