Community Engagement

Advancing microbiome science, together.

With the goal of enabling a shared ownership of multidisciplinary microbiome data, the NMDC is establishing support for open science and FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) data across research teams, publishers, funders, and scientific societies/consortiums. We are working towards a sustainability plan that reflects the aspirations articulated in the Interagency Strategic Plan for Microbiome Research, and the inherent collaborative nature of microbiome research.

Engagement with the NMDC can happen at many levels, and several opportunities are highlighted below. Stay updated on our latest engagement activities by following us on Twitter (@microbiomedata).

Tiered Community Engagement

The NMDC welcomes anyone working with microbiome research data to be part of the NMDC. Through a tiered engagement model, everyone can engage with the NMDC, and the level of involvement can change, as one’s career and research questions evolve over time.

In brief, anyone that works with microbiome data is a member of the NMDC community. If a member of the community cites or contributes data to the NMDC, they become a Collaborator, with credit and attribution for each contribution. Champions and Ambassadors have a more formal engagement with the NMDC, outlined below.

NMDC Community

The NMDC community includes everyone working in, on, and around microbiome data. The cross-cutting nature of microbiome research, from environmental sciences, agriculture, and energy, to human, natural, and built environments, creates a diverse community united by a common challenge – the need for seamless data discovery, exploration, and access. In order to develop inclusive solutions to address this common challenge, the NMDC will work closely with each community to learn and better understand specific needs and questions being explored across the diverse array of microbiome research.

NMDC Collaborators

An NMDC Collaborator is anyone who has contributed data to the NMDC and/or cited data that were discovered, explored, and accessed through the NMDC.

Phase I pilot: 

  • The NMDC is working with a subset of Principal Investigators (PIs) with Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science (FICUS) projects that include data sets from the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) at the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL).
  • The NMDC is targeting these data sets initially because the samples have produced multi-omics data that are already publicly available, and were processed through User Facility standard operating procedures, allowing them to be comparable across projects, where relevant.

NMDC Champions

NMDC Champions understand and appreciate the value of well-curated data, and are willing to advocate for the importance of Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) microbiome data. Meet our current NMDC Champions!

Benefits of being a NMDC Champion

  • Any of your work that produces or advocates for FAIR microbiome data sets can be featured on the NMDC news website and social media accounts.
  • Your biography will be displayed on the NMDC Champions page.
  • Directly contribute to the NMDC by being among the first to demo and provide feedback on iterative releases of the NMDC UI/UX, workflow processes, and added datasets.
  • Gain access to networking opportunities with other NMDC Champions at conferences and events.
  • After a year as an active NMDC Champion, you will be eligible to self-nominate to our NMDC Ambassador program.

What are some duties associated with being a NMDC Champion?

  • Be a steward of good data; understand and appreciate the value of well-curated data.
  • Be willing to advocate for the importance of FAIR microbiome data.
  • Be willing to share your experiences with data curation, data management, or working with the NMDC with other researchers – in person or via the NMDC web platforms.

Become a NMDC Champion

NMDC Ambassadors

NMDC Ambassadors are members of the microbiome research community who speak on behalf of the NMDC mission and vision to a broader audience. During Phase I (2020), members of the NMDC leadership team and advisory board served as Ambassadors and completed a full day training on community engagement led by The Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE). In Phase II (2021), the Ambassadors program will expand to include members of the broader community. The criteria and nomination procedure is currently under development – please check back in Fall 2020 for updates.

Benefits of being a NMDC Ambassador

  • Receive training on:
    • Community engagement
    • Professional development
    • Interacting with the NMDC via the UI/UX, API, and other interfaces
    • Running NMDC standardized workflows
    • Best practices in data management and data curation
  • Receive funding and logistical support when hosting NMDC-aligned events for your community
  • Serve as a voice for the NMDC mission in your community, including opportunities to speak at conferences or assistance with setting up and running community training events

What are some duties associated with being a NMDC Ambassador?

  • 1 year commitment, with possibility of renewal
  • Host at least 1 event on data management and data curation (e.g. an introduction to ontologies) for your community
  • Host at least 1 science event (e.g. science webinar) for your community
  • Speak on behalf of NMDC, using NMDC-approved messaging and presentation materials
  • Support NMDC outreach and training events
  • Support the NMDC Code of Conduct and NMDC Data Use Policy
  • Be familiar with the NMDC UI/UX and workflows

Research Teams

The NMDC seeks to empower the broader research community to engage with and participate in the data curation, discovery, and analysis process by:

  • Hosting community data curation jamborees
  • Hosting meta-analyses data challenges
  • Engaging with and collecting continuous feedback from the community for the iterative development of the NMDC UI/UX, software needs for the NMDC standardized workflows, and expansion requests for the NMDC metadata standards.


Scientific publications provide a means of communication and record of scientific advancement, with journals serving a fundamental role in academic infrastructure. While the principle of sharing data along with publications has been advocated by the International Association of STM Publishers over a decade ago, and reinforced by a joint recommendation with DataCite to “make research data easier to find, link to, reuse and cite,” barriers still exist. A recent study (Eckert et al. 2020) that surveyed over 1,200 publications containing metagenome data found that 20% of articles did not provide public data access, either by not mentioning data availability or by reporting nonexistent or empty accession numbers. We can do better.

The NMDC aims to break down barriers in data access, sharing, and attribution through partnering with publishers who support open science. A pilot program is under development to support microbiome data attribution through infrastructure and changes in institutional behaviors. We are proud to be working with the following journals to make microbiome data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) and incentivize data sharing:


If you would like to be involved, please contact the NMDC at

Reference: Eckert EM, Di Cesare A, Fontaneto D, Berendonk TU, Bürgmann H, Cytryn E, et al. (2020) Every fifth published metagenome is not available to science. PLoS Biol 18(4): e3000698.

Scientific Societies and Consortiums

Through partnering with professional organizations, the NMDC has the opportunity to reach a broad array of researchers, educators, policymakers, and industry collaborators in the microbiome sciences. Current partnerships are focused on data standards and community engagement. These societies and consortiums also play a key role in the NMDC Ambassador program by providing representatives, sharing communications, and enabling NMDC activities to reach the broader microbiome community.

ORCID Member Organization

Funders – under development

A long-term goal of the NMDC is to become integrated in the data management plans of proposals across government agencies and philanthropic funders that support microbiome research.


Thank you for your interest
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