Rita Colwell and Iain San Hoi Forrest will speak at the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences Spring Commencement Ceremony. The ceremony will be held on December 21, 2016, at 3:30 p.m. at the Xfinity Center on campus.
Colwell is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland and at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She also serves as global science officer and chairman of CosmosID, Inc., and as senior advisor and chairman emeritus of Canon U.S. Life Sciences.
Colwell’s research interests focus on global infectious diseases, water and health. She is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world, in collaboration with Safe Water Network.
Colwell was president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and professor of microbiology and biotechnology at UMD before serving as the 11th director of the National Science Foundation from 1998-2004. In this role, she served as co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council, focusing on K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education, and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering.
A well-renowned scientist and educator, Colwell has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 800 scientific publications, and she been awarded 61 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education and numerous awards, including the Order of the Rising Sun from the Emperor of Japan, the National Medal of Science and the Stockholm Water Prize. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Irish Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She also served as a member of the National Science Board from 1984-1990.
Colwell holds a B.S. in bacteriology and an M.S. in genetics from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington.
Forrest is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a specialization in cell biology and genetics. A Banneker/Key Scholar who completed a citation from the Honors College’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, Forrest is an aspiring physician-researcher with a passion for music. His research scientist parents raised him and his two younger siblings—one of whom also attends the University of Maryland—in New York City before the family moved to Bethesda, Maryland.
Through high school, Forrest performed with youth orchestras and in competitions and thought playing the cello was going to be his career. He founded Eyeglasses–String Music, a group composed of classical string players who perform contemporary music at weddings, charity concerts and street performances across the local area.
After founding ArtReach, a service charity club on campus that uplifts young patients at hospitals with music and dance performances, Forrest set his focus on a career in medicine.
He volunteered at a local hospital for over a year, relished taking biology and chemistry courses, and discovered the wonderful world of developmental biology as a researcher in UMD Entomology Professor Leslie Pick’s laboratory. He also joined a genetic ophthalmology laboratory at the National Institutes of Health that seeks to understand and treat rare eye diseases.
Forrest plans to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. degree and study diseases that are not well understood or treated.
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About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 7,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $150 million.