Mon, Jun 7, 2010
University Professor Rita
delivered the commencement address June 5 at the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to the 2010 graduates of the MIT/WHOI
Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Sciences and Engineering
The event is hosted every fifth year at Woods Hole. James A. Yoder,
Vice President for Academic Programs and Dean at WHOI, served from
2001-2004 as NSF's Director of the Division of Ocean Science during
Colwell's tenure there. "She made a lot of contributions to our
knowledge of microbiology in the oceans," he said. "We were lucky to get
her [as commencement speaker]."
Fri, May 28, 2010
Marine bacteria are already hard at work to help clean the oil spill in
the Gulf of Mexico — and their numbers are likely increasing. Among
these are members of the Vibrio family, which includes the
species that causes cholera. "The Vibrios use breakdown products
of oil," says Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor.
"When [the oil from Deepwater Horizon] reaches the estuary, Vibrios
very likely will increase." Colwell warns of risk of bacterial
infection in the Gulf from Vibrio fish pathogens and other
species that commonly infect shellfish and may infect humans too.
Fri, May 21, 2010
Mexican marine scientists were surprised to see how quickly Campeche
Sound recovered from the Ixtoc 1 oil spill there three decades ago,
citing the help of naturally occurring microbes that feasted on the oil
and degraded it. Distinguished University Professor Rita Colwell,
an expert on the biodegradation of petroleum, says microorganisms are
good at breaking down the short chain molecular compounds in crude. "For
the bacteria, they really chew it and release it as CO2," Colwell said.
"The longer stuff that has long ring compounds, that's the stuff that
remains." Colwell warns against eating shrimp harvested in the current
and next season, as they feed on the oil-consuming bacteria.
recovered from last big oil spill, but is this one different? -
Fri, May 21, 2010
In a 2003 field study in Bangladesh, Distinguished University
Professor Rita Colwell
and colleagues showed that teaching
village women to filter water through sari cloth reduced the incidence
of cholera by nearly 50%. A follow-up study conducted five years later
shows that 31% of the women continued to filter water for their
households, 60% of whom used a sari. An additional 26% of households
from the control group who did not receive education or training started
to filter their water. The study reports the incidence of cholera
decreased by 25 percent during the five-year period. As an unexpected
benefit, households that did not filter their water, but whose neighbors
did, also experienced a lower incidence of cholera.
paper, "Simple Sari Cloth
Filtration of Water Is Sustainable and Continues To Protect Villagers
from Cholera in Matlab, Bangladesh," appears in the inaugural issue
the first online, open-access journal published by the American Society
Thu, May 20, 2010
The University of Maryland will receive $1.5 million from the Howard
Hughes Medical Institute to support education in the life sciences. This
marks the fifth time since 1992, and the fourth consecutive time that
Maryland has received the prestigious HHMI grant, which is aimed at
strengthening undergraduate and precollege science education nationwide.
With the support from HHMI, the University of Maryland has developed a
highly successful undergraduate research fellowship program,
strengthened its undergraduate science curriculum, provided hands-on
science immersion programs for high school students, and offered
professional development opportunities for both university scientists
and high school biology teachers.