President Clinton nominated Rita R. Colwell, president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, as director of the National Science Foundation in February.
The President first announced his intent to nominate Colwell during a luncheon at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition in Philadelphia. At the same time, he said he intended to nominate Neal Lane, current NSF Director, as assistant to the President for science and technology and as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Founding director of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) in 1985, Colwell became its president in 1991. With a mission of fostering research, training and education, and economic development, UMBI has grown, under Colwell's leadership, to include four research centers: the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology (Shady Grove), the Center for Agricultural Biotechnology (College Park), the Center for Marine Biotechnology (Baltimore) and the Medical Biotechnology Center (Baltimore). The latter center also includes the Institute for Human Virology.
The National Science Foundation initiates and supports fundamental, long-term, merit-selected research in all the scientific and engineering disciplines. An independent federal agency, its funds research in all 50 states through grants to more than 2,000 universities and institutions. Colwell's appointment as NSF director does not become final until confirmation by the U.S. Senate.