The NMDC Ambassador Program

Training and supporting early career researchers who are motivated to engage with their respective microbiome research communities to lower barriers to adoption of microbiome data best practices.

Our annual call for NMDC Ambassador applications is open!

 View our program eligibility below and apply here until February 7.

The NMDC Ambassador Program

The Ambassador Program utilizes a community learning approach to train and support early career researchers motivated to engage with their respective microbiome research communities and spread awareness and knowledge regarding data stewardship, metadata standards, and bioinformatics workflows. Ambassadors are also provided with a stipend to defray costs.

The NMDC is seeking applications from early career leaders for its 2023 cohort of NMDC Ambassadors who are:

  • Familiar with the challenges of discovering, accessing, and reusing microbiome data
  • Committed to working with the NMDC to make microbiome data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR)
  • Motivated to engage with researchers in their community

Committed to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability (IDEA)


Ambassadors should meet the following criteria:

  • Early career researcher
    • Graduate student or a researcher with 10 years maximum of post-Ph.D. experience
  • Generates and/or works with environmental microbiome data
  • Works with at least one NMDC-relevant data type 
    • Amplicon, metagenomic, metatranscriptomic, metaproteomic, or metabolomic data
    • Experience working with multi-omics data is preferred
  • Willing to dedicate approximately 35 hours over the course of the year (~3 hours per month; see time commitment below)
  • Affiliated with a US institution
    • Does not need to be geographically based in the US

What will Ambassadors do?

Ambassadors will become official NMDC representatives and will be supported by the NMDC team throughout their one-year term. During the course of their term, Ambassadors are expected to (at minimum):


Ambassador activity Details
Contribute to training and template materials  Update content for one NMDC-provided template presentation to reflect an environment relevant to their research community
Engage with their research community Host two workshops, presentations, or events: 1 event with immediate research community, 1 larger event (can be co-hosted with the NMDC and/or other Ambassadors)
Spread the NMDC mission Continually share updates on FAIR microbiome data activities on any online platform (social media, website, NMDC newsletter)
Promote IDEA best practices Demonstrate a continued commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability (IDEA) principles
Learn about microbiome data stewardship Attend all NMDC trainings (see “Time Commitment”)

The Three Ambassador Paths

The 2023 Ambassadors will have the opportunity to choose their specific path regarding the training materials they would contribute to and the events and workshops they will host. Each path and set of training materials would include background information about the topic as well as practical information about one of the NMDC products. The three paths are focused on:

  1. Microbiome data stewardship, data management, and the NMDC Data Portal
  2. Microbiome metadata standards, MIxS templates, and the NMDC Submission Portal
  3. Multi-omic data processing, standardized bioinformatics workflows, and NMDC EDGE


    Benefits of being a NMDC Ambassador

    Dedicated training

    Receive dedicated training on data management, sample metadata standards, microbiome data stewardship, multi-omic data processing, and standardized bioinformatics workflows, as well as the NMDC Data Portal, the NMDC Submission Portal, and NMDC EDGE 

    Learn how to effectively facilitate events and conduct scientific community building (hosted by the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE))


    Expanded professional network in a cohort-based learning environment

    Access to the NMDC team members as well as the NMDC’s large and diverse network of data scientists, microbiome researchers, and multi-omics experts

    Frequent virtual meetings with the other NMDC Ambassadors as well as the NMDC Champions; in-person microbiome meet-ups


    Recognition for service

    Co-authorship on NMDC training resources

    Co-authorship on publications highlighting the Ambassador Program

    Serve as an official NMDC representative 

    Recognition on the NMDC website and have your work continuously highlighted throughout NMDC online platforms

    Support and resources

    Funding to support NMDC events

    Administrative and logistical support for events

    Access to NMDC team members and expertise

    Time Commitment

    The estimated time commitment for each Ambassador is on average 3 hours per month (~35 hours total for the year). This includes ~7 hours of training sessions, ~10 hours of meetings and planning sessions, ~6 hours of workshop and presentation time, and ~12 hours of individual work time. Weekly optional drop-in office hours will also be hosted throughout the program. Ambassadors are expected to adhere to this time commitment, and researchers should not apply for the Program if they are unable to fulfill these commitments. Please note that this time commitment is an approximation, and it may vary slightly based on a variety of factors. A timeline is provided below for planning purposes:

    Program Timeline 

    Date Event
    January 9, 2023 2023 Program launched
    February 7, 2023 Application deadline
    March 1, 2023 Cohort announcement
    Week of 

    March 20, 2023

    First Meeting
    Week of

    March 27, 2023

    Training Session 1: Data Stewardship
    Week of

    April 3, 2023

    Training Session 2: Metadata Standards & MIxS
    Week of

    April 10, 2023

    Training Session 3: Standardized Bioinformatics Workflows
    Week of

    April 17, 2023

    Training Session 4: CSCCE Training
    Week of

    April 24, 2023

    Workshop planning meeting
    Week of

    May 1, 2023

    Ambassador presentation of event plans
    May 1, 2023 – November 1, 2023 Ambassador-led smaller community event


    Ambassador-led event (Workshop or larger presentation)

    May 1, 2023- November 1, 2023 (TBD) Ambassador information sharing sessions
    November 2023 End of term

    2021-2022 Ambassadors

    Arwa Abbas (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Mikayla A. Borton (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    Emily Davenport (Penn State University)
    Assistant Professor
    Natalia Erazo (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
    Ph.D. Student
    Chloe Herman (Northern Arizona University)
    Ph.D. student
    Lisa Karstens (Oregon Health and Science University)
    Assistant Professor
    Brandon Kocurek (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
    Staff Fellow Biologist
    Holly Lutz (University of California, San Diego)
    Assistant Project Scientist
    Kevin Myers (Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center)
    Jaci Saunders (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
    Postdoctoral Investigator
    Emily Vogtmann (National Cancer Institute)
    Amanda Windsor (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
    Staff Fellow Research Biologist
    Thank you for your interest
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