Originally Aired: October 21, 2020
Time: 8:00 am PT, 11:00 am ET, 17:00 CET
Rita Colwell, president of the Rosalind Franklin Society, is a pioneering microbiologist and the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation. She is a Distinguished University Professor at both the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her worldwide recognition includes awards from the emperor of Japan, the king of Sweden, the prime minister of Singapore, and the president of the United States. Her impressive professional and very personal journey is chronicled in the recently published book “A Lab of One’s Own: One Woman’s Personal Journey through Sexism and Science” (Simon & Schuster 2020).
Through six decades and still counting, Dr. Colwell has emerged as a renowned scientist from her early work in bacteriology and discoveries about how cholera survives between epidemics, with its continuing relevance today in addressing contagion, ocean science , and climate change. After the rejection of her first graduate fellowship application (“We don’t waste fellowships on women”), she in fact changed her areas of study six times avoiding roadblocks thrown at her feet by an entrenched male establishment. And she has emerged unscathed, productive, renowned, and still a champion for women and minorities in science.