Colwell Named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Dr. Rita Colwell

Dr. Rita Colwell

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) congratulates its Research Board Chair Dr. Rita Colwell for her selection as a National Academy of Inventors Fellow. This honor is the highest professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific innovative spirit in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that make a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society.

“Dr. Colwell is an amazing innovator and inventor,” said Margaret Leinen, GoMRI Research Board Vice-Chair. “She has more than a dozen patents, most in computational biology.  Her company, CosmosID, includes innovations and inventions of hers applying next generation DNA sequencing to the human micro biome.”

Reflecting on this award, Dr. Colwell said, “I am honored to be selected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). It is gratifying that there is an organization like the NAI which recognizes the important role of academia in the translation of university-based research and discoveries into products benefiting society.”

Colwell is the recipient of other notable awards such as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council for Science and the Environment; the National Medal of Science; the Stockholm Water Prize; the Mahathir Science Award; and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star from the Emperor of Japan. Colwell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Swedish Royal Academy of Science, Irish Royal Academy of Science, and the Bangladesh and Indian Academies of Science.

Dr. Colwell is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, having held  positions as the Director of the National Science Foundation, National Science Board member, President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has authored or co-authored 17 books, more than 800 scientific publications, and has been awarded 61 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education.

The National Academy of Inventors was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The academy publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors.

The GoMRI community joins in the accolades of Dr. Colwell’s exceptional contributions to science and direction as Chair of the GoMRI Research Board.


The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit

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