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Mills College Debuts New Lecture Series to Help Inspire Future Female Scientists

Oakland, CA–April 03, 2012 As part of a long-standing commitment to advancing women in science and technology, Mills College is proud to announce the new Russell Women in Science Lecture Series: Leadership Beyond the Lab. This annual lecture series is designed to introduce students to leading female scientists and highlight the career opportunities available to young women in the sciences.

The inaugural April 17 event will feature Dr. Rita Colwell, a path-breaking leader in government, academia, and the private sector, in a lecture titled “A Changing Climate in Human Health: Empowering Women in a Global Society.” The lecture will be held at 5:00 pm in the Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall on the Mills campus. The event is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 4:30 pm for a pre-lecture reception.

A renowned microbiologist whose career has focused on solving global infectious diseases, water, and health problems, Colwell has led groundbreaking research on the transmission of cholera and how the ecology of this disease-causing bacteria is altered as a result of global changes in climate and weather. She has also worked to combat the spread of cholera by training women in the villages of Bangladesh to remove the pathogen by filtering their drinking water through folded sari cloth.

In her address, Colwell will explain how educating women in basic scientific concepts empowers them to take control of their lives and improve the health of their communities. She will also discuss the challenges she has personally faced throughout her career as a woman scientist as well as the current state of women working and studying in scientific fields.

Studies show that American women’s colleges have a strong track record of producing female leaders in the sciences and graduating women in the field at up to twice the rate of coeducational institutions.

“At Mills College, we are committed to preparing the next generation of women for scientific leadership through an environment of rigorous academic study, interdisciplinary scholarship, and unparalleled faculty mentoring,” said Mills Provost Sandra Greer, a longtime academic leader in chemistry and chemical engineering as well as a champion for the advancement of women in science. “We are proud to provide this opportunity for our students to interact with, and learn from, some of the country’s most distinguished women scientists.”

Dr. Colwell became the first female director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1998 and is currently a distinguished university professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also president and CEO of CosmosID, Inc. Four years before she assumed the top post at NSF, Colwell participated in a national Women in Science Summit on strategies for breaking the glass ceiling in the top professional leadership ranks, which was organized by Mills and held on the campus.

The lecture series is funded by Trustee Emerita Cristine Russell ’71, an award-winning journalist who has written about science, health, and the environment for more than three decades. She earned a biology degree from Mills and is currently president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School.

“We need to inspire the scientific leaders of tomorrow, many of whom are studying at Mills this very moment, advancing one rung at a time,” said Russell. “Mills College, the oldest women’s college in the West, provides women with access to science education and hands-on research of the highest caliber, preparing them to overcome barriers that still exist in making it to the top ranks of science and technology in the United States and across the world.”

About Mills College
Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity in approximately 950 undergraduate women and more than 600 graduate women and men. The College ranks as one of the Best 376 Colleges in the country and one of the greenest colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. US News & World Report ranked Mills one of the top-tier regional universities in the country and lists it among the top colleges and universities in the West in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. For more information, visit

Last Updated: 4/2/12