Rita Colwell is a pioneering microbiologist whose work on cholera helped illuminate the interplay between the environment and public health. She was also the first woman to serve as director of the National Science Foundation, and is currently a Distinguished University Professor at both the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In her half-century-plus in the sciences, Colwell has also seen very clearly the array of obstacles confronted by women as they try to navigate a traditionally male world. (When she applied for a graduate fellowship in bacteriology, she says
Colwell’s new book, “A Lab of One’s Own,” coauthored with writer Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, documents much of what she has seen and heard over the years, from sexual harassment to the invisible structural obstacles placed in the way of women working in the sciences. (The book’s subtitle is “One Woman’s Personal Journey Through Sexism