- MSc (1962) Faculty of Sciences, University of Ghent
- Ph.D. (1967), Analytical Chemistry, University of Ghent
- Dr. Sc. (1980), Analytical Chemistry, University of Ghent
1968 Awarded the J. Servais Stas Prize and elected as Laureate of the Royal Flemish Academy of Sciences, Literature, and Arts.
Since 1968, research interests are in the analysis of trace elements in biological matrices, particularly the human body. Areas of focus were sample collection, sample handling, and development of analytical procedures.
From 1982, research interest moved from total element determinations to speciation of trace elements.
Involvement in the certification of biological reference materials with the Community Bureau of Reference Materials of the Commission of the European Union and with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Invited participant, International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) of the World Health Organization (WHO), writing and editing publications.
Author/editor of more than 150 articles in reviewed international scientific journals and of several books dealing with trace elements and speciation of trace element.
Currently Emeritus Research Director of the National Fund for Scientific Research, Belgium, at the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences, University of Ghent, Belgium.
- 1989 – 1990 Titular member, Commission on Toxicology (ComTox)
- 1991 – 1993 Secretary of ComTox
- 1993 – 1998 Chair of ComTox
- 1999 – 2001 Vice President, Clinical Chemistry Section, Division of Chemistry and Human Health
- 2002 – 2005 Member, Division VII Subcommittee on Toxicology and Risk Assessment
- 2006 – 2009 National Representative for Belgium
- Co-organizer of “IUPAC-day: Chemistry for Life, Chemistry for the Future” at the Royal Academy for Sciences and the Arts in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 16, 2011.
Prof. Rita Cornelis was awarded Emeritus Fellow status by the Chemistry and Human Health Division in 2011.