Outstanding Service Award 2004
The AIBS Outstanding Service Award, given annually to individuals or organizations in recognition of noteworthy service to the biological sciences, for 2004 is presented to Rita Colwell, chairman of Canon U.S. Life Sciences and former director of the National Science Foundation (NSF).
While at NSF, Colwell spearheaded the agency's efforts to improve education in science and mathematics at the K-12 level, as well as in science and engineering at the graduate level, and to increase the participation of women and minorities in science and engineering. She enabled NSF to strengthen its core activities and to establish support for major initiatives concerning nanotechnology; biocomplexity; information technology; social, behavioral, and economic sciences; and the 2lst-century workforce.In her capacity as NSF director, she served as cochair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. Under her leadership, NSF received significant budget increases.
Before joining NSF, Colwell was president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (1991-1998), and she remains professor of microbiology and biotechnology (on leave) at the university.
Colwell, a respected scientist and educator, has held many advisory positions in the U.S. government, in nonprofit science policy organizations, and in private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. She was a member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990.
Colwell is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Medal of Distinction from Columbia University, the Gold Medal of Charles University (Prague), Barnard's Medal of Distinction, of Charles University (Prague), the UCLA Medal from University of California-Los Angeles, and the Alumna Summa Laude Dignata from the University of Washington.
Although service to AIBS in particular is not a criterion for the Outstanding Service Award, it should be noted that Rita Colwell has made many contributions to AIBS. She was the anchor keynote speaker at the 2001 AIBS annual meeting, speaking on the topic that she "invented," biocomplexity. She was also a generous participant in the first President's Summit convened by AIBS in 1999; her participation meant a great deal in terms of validating the efforts of presidents of AIBS member societies, and her thoughtful comments about the role that AIBS could, and should, play in the future of the biological sciences were insightful. She has maintained helpful communications with AIBS in the development of many AIBS programs.