External Advisory Council

Rita R. Colwell, D. Sc. (Hon.)

Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Director of the National Science Foundation (1998-2004)
Dr. Rita Colwell is Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Senior Advisor and Chairman Emeritus, Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., and President and Chairman of CosmosID, Inc. Her interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health, and she 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. Dr. Colwell served as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, 1998-2004. In her capacity as NSF Director, she served as Co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. One of her major interests include K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering. Dr. Colwell 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. She is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 800 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film, Invisible Seas, and has served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. Before going to NSF, Dr. Colwell was President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University Maryland. She was also a member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990. Dr. Colwell has previously served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology and also as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Microbiology, the Sigma Xi National Science Honorary Society, and the International Union of Microbiological Societies. Dr. Colwell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, the Royal Society of Canada, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She is Immediate Past-President of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). Dr. Colwell has also been awarded 55 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education, including her Alma Mater, Purdue University and is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, bestowed by the Emperor of Japan, the 2006 National Medal of Science awarded by the President of the United States, and the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize awarded by the King of Sweden. Dr. Colwell is an honorary member of the microbiological societies of the UK, Australia, France, Israel, Bangladesh, Czechoslovakia, Royal Irish Academy, and the U.S. and has held several honorary professorships, including the University of Queensland, Australia. A geological site in Antarctica, Colwell Massif, has been named in recognition of her work in the polar regions. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Dr. Colwell holds a B.S. in Bacteriology and an M.S. in Genetics, from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Washington.
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Rebecca Doerge, PhD

Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon University
Fellow of the American Statistical Association
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Member of the Board of Trustees for the National Institute of Statistical Sciences and the Mathematical Biosciences Institute
Dr. Doerge's research program focuses on statistical bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary component of bioinformatics that brings together many scientific disciplines for the purpose of asking, answering, and disseminating biologically interesting information in the quest to understand the ultimate function of DNA and epigenomic associations. Doerge is an elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association (2007) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2007), and a Fellow of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (2009). She declined the American Council on Education Fellowship in 2016 to become dean of the Mellon College of Science. She is also chair-elect of the AAAS Statistics Section (2019); a member of the Board of Trustees for the National Institute of Statistical Sciences and the Mathematical Biosciences Institute; a member of the Engineering External Review Committee at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and a member of the Global Open-Source Breeding Informatics Initiative Advisory Board. She has published two books and more than 120 scientific articles. She has mentored many students, including 24 doctoral students who have successfully defended their theses. Doerge was born and raised in upstate New York. As a first generation student, she studied theoretical mathematics at the University of Utah. It was there that she gained interest and experience in both computing and human genetics. Doerge obtained her Ph.D. in statistics from North Carolina State University under the direction of Bruce Weir. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Gary Churchill at Cornell University, studying biometry and plant breeding. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon University, Doerge was the Trent and Judith Anderson Distinguished Professor of Statistics at Purdue University. She joined Purdue University in 1995 and held a joint appointment between the Colleges of Agriculture (Department of Agronomy) and Science (Department of Statistics). At Purdue, she was the recipient of Teaching for Tomorrow Award (1996), University Scholar Award (2001-06), and Provost's Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor (2010).
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Ann Gerber, RDN, LD

Founder and owner of Wellness On The Run LLC
Ann Gerber’s Purdue education has led her to achievements in research, industry, outpatient and private practice. She is a licensed registered dietitian nutritionist who started her career researching Zinc bioavailability for Bristol Myers nutritional division and then went on to represent their nutritional products to doctors and nursing staffs in the mid-Atlantic and northeast. In the San Francisco Bay area, she worked at an endocrinologist-led obesity outpatient clinic (Sunnyvale Medical Clinic, Sunnyvale, CA) and then she continued her interest in obesity and research while at Children’s National Medical Center (Washington, DC). In the last twelve years she’s has focused on her private practice clients in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Ann has lectured at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy and the Federal Aviation Agency, University of Virginia and many schools and sports team. Ann’s private practice specializes in wellness, weight management and sports nutrition as well as coordinated medical nutrition therapies for clients across the lifespan with obesity, disordered eating, cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia, gastrointestinal disorders, prediabetes, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies, intolerances and nutritional inadequacies. Ann collaborates with her client’s healthcare team, parents, and school to facilitate best health outcomes. Ann’s holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Purdue University’s Coordinated Undergraduate Dietetics Program. She was selected by MetLife and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the first class of dietitians to lead their nationwide Kids Eat Right initiative and is certified in Adult Weight Management (Levels 1 and 2) and in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has been named Washington’s Top Nutritionist in the Washingtonian Magazine. She maintains her private practice, Wellness On The Run LLC in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Beyond work, Ann has a wonderful husband, Jamie, and two grown children who remain top priority in her life. With her family and friends, Ann loves to travel and spend time outdoors hiking, biking, gardening and playing tennis. Most recently, she republished her Mother’s cooking memoir, Cooking with Carole.”
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Jennifer Kerr, MS, CCRA, RAC

Cook Research Incorporated
Jennifer L. Kerr is the President of Cook Research Incorporated (a Cook Group Company), in the Purdue Research Park, West Lafayette, Indiana. Jennifer’s role encompasses executive oversight of product development, testing, clinical studies, medical/scientific writing, and regulatory submissions for devices, pharmaceuticals and cell-based therapies. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering with an emphasis in Biomedical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Physiology from Purdue University. She is dually certified as a Clinical Research Associate (CCRA) from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP), and the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS). Beginning in 2010, Jennifer has taught Clinical Design strategies to graduate level biomedical engineering students at Purdue University. In addition, she drove the initiative to host the United States FDA medical device reviewers for multiple workshops on the Management of Clinical Studies (from the physician, patient, site, and sponsor perspective). Jennifer is the Co-Chair of AAMI/BE/WG 04, Clinical Investigations representing the U.S. industry. She is the Global Functional Leader for Clinical Affairs for the Cook organization, and collaborates with global leaders, Regulatory Authorities, and experts on Good Clinical Practice (GCP) in revising the international standard ISO 14155 (Clinical standard for conducting medical device studies). Jennifer has worked with the FDA, Japan MHLW, Japan PMDA and Industry representatives as an active participant in the Harmonization by Doing (HBD) initiative through Working Group 4 to address the best practices for conducting global clinical research.
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Katey Owen, PhD

Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr. Katey Einterz Owen is the Director for Neglected Tropical Diseases at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the foundation's lead for pharmaceutical industry engagement. Katey has end-to-end responsibility for the Gates Foundation's investment portfolio in controlling, eliminating, and eradicating the diseases of the London Declaration. This includes active investment in lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, STH, trachoma, Guinea Worm, HAT, and visceral leishmaniasis, diseases that collectively put at risk more than one billion people in the world. The portfolio funds projects with global private and public partners across the value chain, from research and innovation to project demonstration through on-the-ground delivery of interventions in Africa and Asia. In her role as the foundation's liaison to pharmaceutical company leadership, Katey facilitates regular interaction between the CEOs of pharmaceutical organizations with Mr. Gates, to advance global health goals through collaboration and innovation. Previously, Katey was the Deputy Director for Vaccine Development at the Gates Foundation. She joined BMGF in 2013 from the pharmaceutical industry. She combines a technical end-to-end view of product development and quality manufacturing, with a commercial understanding of the for-profit pharmaceutical business, coupled to practical solutions for funding and delivery in LMICs, all with a solutions-focused mindset and disposition. Her perspectives have also been shaped by her oldest sister, who spent her career as a primary care physician and health-district chief in rural northern Cameroun and her older brother, who co-founded the program AMPATH-Kenya with the Kenyan MoH and Ministry of Education. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, Katey carried out academic research on influenza at the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill (London). She earned her PhD in molecular virology from Purdue University.
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Belinda Seto, Ph.D

Deputy Director, Office of Data Science Strategy
National Institutes of Health
Belinda Seto, Ph.D. is the Deputy Director, Office of Data Science Strategy, National Institutes of Health. In this capacity, she oversees the implementation of the NIH strategic plan for data science. Her expertise in bioinformatics led to the appointment by the NIH Director to the Scientific Data Council. Prior to this position, Dr. Seto held several leadership positions, including Deputy Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), and Deputy Director of the National Eye Institute. Throughout these leadership roles, Dr. Seto remains firmly committed to mentoring the next generation of leaders, in particularly women and minorities. She is a member of the Women in Biomedical Careers Committee. Her passionate work was recognized by being the first recipient of the prestigious NIH Ruth Kirschstein Mentoring Award. Dr. Seto earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Purdue University. Following postdoctoral training at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, she joined the Food and Drug Administration where she conducted research in virology for nearly 10 years. She has received numerous awards for her research, including the Distinguished Alumni Award for Science from Purdue University, the DHHS Secretary's Award for Exceptional Achievement, Inventor's Awards, NIH Director’s awards, and she is listed in the American Men and Women of Science. Dr. Seto is the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. She serves on numerous Federal and professional organizations and committees, as well as being a member of several professional societies.
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JoAnn A. Suzich, Ph.D

Vice President, Research, Infectious Disease and Vaccines Research
JoAnn Suzich is a leading scientist and researcher in infectious disease and played a critical role in the advancement and treatment of health issues affecting women and children. Suzich is vice president for research and development at MedImmune, where she is responsible for overseeing the company's research in the development of antibodies and antibody-like molecules for the prevention and treatment of infectious disease. In addition, she recently assumed responsibility for MedImmune's research on novel vaccines. Since joining MedImmune in 1988 as a scientist, she has held several positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as senior director, infectious disease research. She has been involved in many key development programs, including Synagis (palivizumab) which is the only monoclonal antibody approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help prevent an infectious disease, and the virus-like particle technology that is the basis of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines used to prevent cervical cancer. HPV is thought to be responsible for 70 percent of the instances of cervical cancer. Suzich's leadership has helped build MedImmune - where she is known as "employee number 13" - from a fledgling company with four employees, founded by fellow Purdue alumnus Wayne Hockmeyer, to an international biotechnology company with more than 3,000 employees worldwide. She has worked closely with all aspects of the company, including discovery research, biopharmaceutical development, clinical research, translational sciences, regulatory affairs, business development, and medical affairs. Before joining MedImmune, Suzich was a scientist at Molecular Genetics Inc. from 1986-1988. Suzich is the inventor of multiple patents and has authored more than 30 publications. She is the recipient of the Wallace H. Steinberg Award for Innovation. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Susquehanna University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She received her doctorate in biochemistry from Purdue in 1983. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota in 1986. Suzich received an honorary doctorate of agriculture from Purdue in 2011.
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Elaine Wedral, Ph.D

Board of Directors of three food/chemical companies
Past President of International Life Sciences Institute
Dr. Elaine Wedral is on the Board of Directors of three major food/chemical specialty companies and the Editorial Board of Food Processing magazine. Dr. Wedral was President of International Life Sciences Institute-NA and was president of Nestle's Food & Nutrition R&D center in New Milford, CT while heading R&D strategy and technical development activities for Nestle's International Foodservice business. She spent 34 years with Nestle, in various technical positions including President of of all U.S. R&D laboratory facilities 1988-2007 and was a member of Nestle's global R&D management committee. She began her career at Campbell Soup working in research and development before becoming vice president of development and research for Nestle's Western Hemisphere Research Laboratory. Dr. Wedral also was responsible for the construction of a new world class Pet Food & Nutrition facility as well as a state-of-the-art laboratory for coffee, liquid beverages and confections. Under her leadership, the research and development programs of Libby, Beech-Nut, Carnation, and Nestle were consolidated into one coordinated function for Nestle in North America. At PTC New Milford, Dr. Wedral was responsible for the development of innovative new Foodservice Systems and technologies to provide services and solutions for Nestle's global foodservice customers and operators; one of the food industry's fastest growing markets. Dr. Wedral received her B.S. (with honors) in Biochemistry from Purdue University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Microbiology and Food Chemistry from Cornell University. She holds over 39 patents in food science, chemistry and foodservice systems. She has served as Chairman of the Industrial Advisory Board of Columbia University's St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center for Research and Clinical Nutrition and has been on numerous other university advisory boards including Cornell, Purdue, Rutgers, Teikyo Post University and Penn State. She has also received honorary degrees from University of Guadalajara, University Iberoamericana, Purdue University and Teikyo Post University.
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Nishka Wickramasingha

Director of Ceylon Biscuits Limited, Sri Lanka
Nishka Wickramasingha is Group Director of Ceylon Biscuits Ltd, Sri Lanka, and Director of CBL subsidiers Convenience Foods Lanka and Plenty Foods Pvt ltd. She is the cluster head of these companies which engage in Agricultural backward integration and the manufacture of nutritional supplements and high protein food products to the Sri Lankan and export market. She has 21-year experience with the Group; started her career in R&D and quality assurance. She has held many roles in the company. She is also a Director of Back of Beyond Sri Lanka which is engaged in Eco Tourism in Sri Lanka, and Modern Pack Lanka Pvt Lts which provides packaging solutions. She holds a Bsc. Degree in Food Science from Purdue University USA and Diploma in Professional Marketing (CIM)
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Shea Wickramasingha

Managing Director of Ceylon Biscuits Limited, Sri Lanka
Shea Wickramasingha is the Group Managing Director of Ceylon Biscuits Limited (CBL). CBL has manufacturing operations in confectionery, cereals, Soya, coconuts, and fruits and has strong market leadership in Sri Lanka in several categories with its brands such as Munchee, Ritzbury, Revello, Lanka Soy, Samaposha and Sera. For two consecutive years in 2016 and 2017 Munchee was named the Sri Lankan FMCG Brand of the year by Kantar. CBL are also the Sri Lankan Partner for SPAR International and operational supermarkets in Sri Lanka under license. CBL invests heavily in the agriculture supply chain and has a direct farmer base of over 10,000. The Group has two manufacturing plants in Bangladesh and Myanmar and export their range of products to over 55 countries. Shea joined CBL in 1991 as a Food Technologist and worked in various capacities in the Company and Group. She was invited to join the Board in 1996. She sits on all of the Subsidiary Boards of the Group. She is also the founder and Managing Director of Modern Pack Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. In 2015 Modern Pack Lanka was awarded a World Star Packaging Award from the World Packaging Organization for Design Innovation. She has been a member of the main committee of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce since 2013 and was a Board member of the institution’s first Board from June 2015 to May 2017. She is a member of the Monetary Policy Consultative Committee of Central Bank of Sri Lanka, EDB Advisory Committee on Processed Food and Beverages and Council of the Employer’s Federation of Ceylon. She has also served as an executive Committee member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging. She has a MSc degree in Food Chemistry from Purdue University and a BSc in Food Science & Industry from Kansas State University. She has an interest in Functional and Healing properties of Food and has studied extensively on the subject. She is also an Old girl of Benenden School in the UK and Ladies College in Sri Lanka.
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