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Honorary degree recipient earns medal

August 07, 2007

ASU honorary degree recipient Rita Colwell is one of eight individuals to receive a 2006 National Medal of Science. President George W. Bush presented the award during a White House ceremony July 27.

Colwell, a Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland College Park, received the honorary degree in May 2004.

Colwell was the first female director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1998 to 2004. According to the NSF, Colwell “spearheaded the agency’s emphases in K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education/training and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering.”

The National Medal of Science, established by Congress in 1959, honors individuals for “pioneering scientific research in a range of fields, including physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral and engineering sciences, that enhances understanding of the world and leads to innovations and technologies that give the United States its global economic edge.” Selections are made by a 12-member committee of scientists appointed by the president.

After serving at the NSF, Colwell joined Cannon U.S. Life Sciences as chairman of the board. She serves as senior adviser and honorary chair on the Canon U.S. Life Sciences management team.

Additionally, Colwell is the president-elect of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.