Rita R. Colwell is Director of the National Science Foundation, an independent agency of the Federal Government that provides support for research and education in advanced mathematics, engineering, and biotechnology. She is the first woman to head the Foundation. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Dr. Colwell holds a BS in Biology and an MS in Genetics from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Marine Microbiology from the University of Washington. A nationally respected scientist and educator, Dr. Colwell has held academic appointments at the Unversity of Washington and Georgetown University. Immediately prior to becoming NSF Director, she was President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Maryland, positions she had held since 1991 and 1972 respectively. While at the University of Maryland, Dr. Colwell also served as Director of the Sea Grant College, Acting Director of the Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Colwell has authored or co-authored 16 books and more than 500 scentific publications, and produced the award-winning film, Invisible Seas.