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Johns Hopkins SAIS to host virtual discussion with Rita Colwell, former National Science Foundation director, as part of Condoleezza Rice Women Who Inspire Lecture Series


On November 11, Johns Hopkins SAIS and the school’s Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) will host a virtual discussion titled, “A Lab of One’s Own: A Personal History of Sexism in Science,” featuring Rita Colwell, former Director of the National Science Foundation. This event is part of the Condoleezza Rice Women Who Inspire Lecture Series, an initiative named in honor of the former Secretary of State that seeks to highlight how women are reshaping the world, confronting global challenges, and blazing trails across all walks of life that improve the human condition.
Colwell will join Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow at FPI, for a conversation focused on her new co-authored book A Lab of One’s Own, which examines challenges women in science face. Colwell will also discuss the need to include more underrepresented groups in science.


Rita Colwell 
Former Director, National Science Foundation
Distinguished University Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and University of Maryland
Shirin Tahir-Kheli 
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Former Senior Advisor for Women's Empowerment, U.S. Department of State


Carla Freeman
Executive Director, Foreign Policy Institute and Associate Research Professor of China Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Time and Date

10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. EST
Wednesday, November 11, 2020


This virtual event is open to the public and media, with registration.

Media Contacts

Miji Bell
Director of Communications and Media Relations
Johns Hopkins SAIS
+1 (202) 587-3205
Jason Lucas 
Communications Manager
Johns Hopkins SAIS
+1 (202) 663-5620

About the Speakers

Rita Colwell is a Distinguished University Professor both at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Maryland, Senior Advisor and Chairman Emeritus at Canon US Life Sciences, and President and CEO of CosmosID. Her research interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health. Colwell is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world. Colwell's major interests are K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education, and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering.
Colwell served as the eleventh director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1998 to 2004. In her capacity as NSF director, she served as Co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. She has held many advisory positions in the U.S. government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. Colwell is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored nearly 20 books and more than 750 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film, "Invisible Seas," and has served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals.
Colwell has received more than 50 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education, including her alma mater, Purdue University. She is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, the 2006 National Medal of Science, and the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize. Colwell is an honorary member of the microbiological societies of the UK, Australia, France, Israel, Bangladesh, Czechoslovakia, Royal Irish Academy, and the U.S. 
Carla Freeman directs the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS and is concurrently Associate Research Professor in China Studies. She conducts research on Chinese foreign and domestic policy with a current focus on regional dynamics, including China and its periphery, nontraditional security, and China's role in international organizations. Her career has included leadership as an Asian analyst for a political risk consultancy, directing the program in civil society and community sustainability at The Johnson Foundation, and various academic positions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Beloit College, and Alverno College, where she chaired the global studies and international affairs program. Freeman’s current research is on China and the global commons and the country’s foreign policy toward its neighbors. She currently serves as the editor-in-chief of the academic journal Asian Perspective, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS. In 2011, Newsweek named her as one of the "150 Women Who Shake the World." She specializes in South Asia, nuclear non-proliferation, the United Nations and U.S. foreign policy, and women's empowerment. Her most recent book and memoir is titled, Before the Age of Prejudice: A Muslim Woman's National Security Work with Three American Presidents. From March 2003 to April 2005, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations at the National Security Council. In 2006, Ambassador Tahir-Kheli was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as her Senior Advisor for Women's Empowerment, where she established the first ever office focused on integrating women's empowerment into U.S. foreign policy. During her service in the U.S. government, Ambassador Tahir-Kheli served as Head of the United States delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva; Alternate United States Representative to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs, a post that carries the rank of Ambassador; member of the United States Presidential Commission on the Public Service; Director of Near East and South Asian Affairs; and Director of Political Military Affairs at the National Security Council. 

Foreign Policy Institute

The Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) was established in 1980 to unite the worlds of scholarship and policy in the search for realistic answers to international issues facing the United States and the world. FPI seeks to advance practically oriented research and discussion about foreign policy. To this end, it organizes research initiatives and study groups, and hosts leaders from around the world as resident or non-resident fellows in fields including international policy, business, journalism, and academia. Read more about FPI here: 

Johns Hopkins SAIS

A division of Johns Hopkins University, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today's critical issues. For more than 75 years, Johns Hopkins SAIS has produced great leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of international relations. Public leaders and private sector executives alike seek the counsel of the faculty, whose ideas and research inform and shape policy. Johns Hopkins SAIS offers a global perspective across three campus locations: Bologna, Italy; Nanjing, China; and Washington, D.C. The school's interdisciplinary curriculum is strongly rooted in the study of international economics, international relations, and regional studies, preparing students to address multifaceted challenges in the world today. 
For more information, visit or on Twitter @SAISHopkins
Friday, November 6, 2020