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Global Infectious Disease, Water Quality Expert to Speak as Part of Ohio Wesleyan’s Science Lecture Series

January 26, 2007

One of the century’s biggest challenges, says Rita R. Colwell, Ph.D., is to provide safe drinking water for people around the world. Clean water, she says, is key to promoting good health and preventing the spread of dangerous, infectious diseases.

Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, will discuss “Global Climate, Oceans, and Human Health: The Cholera Model” from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 9 at Ohio Wesleyan University. Her visit, part of the university’s Science Lecture Series, will be held in Room 163 of the Schimmel/Conrades Science Center, 90 S. Henry St.

After the event, Colwell will participate in an open house to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Ohio Wesleyan’s scanning electron microscope. Tours and demonstration of the microscope, dubbed “Big George,” will be available from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Science Center.

The microscope is named in memory of George W. Burns, a former OWU botany professor, vice president and dean, and acting university president. The powerful microscope can magnify images up to 400,000 times. In comparison, a traditional light microscope can magnify images up to just 1,000 times.

It is appropriate that Colwell be a part of OWU’s celebration of science learning and technology, as she spent much of her career working to advance science education opportunities for students.

At the National Science Foundation, Colwell spearheaded efforts to emphasize the importance of K-12 science and mathematics education, as well as the importance of graduate science and engineering education. In addition, she oversaw initiatives to increase the participation of women and minorities in science and engineering. Colwell also established major initiatives involving nanotechnology, biocomplexity, information technology, and the 21st century workforce.

She now serves as a distinguished professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Colwell also is the chairperson of Canon U.S. Life Sciences, Inc.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, dedicated to preparing students for a lifetime of learning, service, and leadership. Located in Delaware, Ohio, 20 miles north of the state capital, Ohio Wesleyan is a coeducational, residential, privately supported undergraduate institution. The university is ranked consistently by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges and is featured in the book Colleges That Change Lives. The faculty includes more than 135 educators, all of whom actively teach and hold either doctoral degrees or the highest recognized professional degrees in their fields. Approximately 1,850 students representing 44 states and 45 countries attend Ohio Wesleyan. More information is available at www.owu.edu.