Meet the NMDC Champions

NMDC Champions understand and appreciate the value of well-curated data, and are willing to advocate for the importance of FAIR microbiome data. Learn more about the Champions Program.

Featured NMDC Champions

I would like to contribute towards improved data transparency and accessibility within the scientific community. With the growing amount of microbiome sequencing data, it has become ever so important to make datasets easily accessible to drive reproducible research, enhance collaboration, and support innovation of new bioinformatic tools or analyses pipelines.
Car Reen Kok
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Postdoctoral Researcher

Car Reen is a microbiologist interested in understanding microbial interactions within complex communities. During her Ph.D. program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she studied the use of prebiotics and probiotics to modulate the human gut microbiome using a combination of in-vitro and computational methods. Currently at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, her projects span investigating microbiomes across different host sites and host-associated environments with the shared goal of discovering microbial biomarkers that are associated with human health and disease.

I’ve realized that besides using your datasets to answer your own scientific questions, they can also be useful for other researchers. Reuse of data would not only save time and funding resource, but may also represent a timepoint that they may no longer be recovered. With microbiomes evolving at such a high complexity, sharing data and metadata are critical for research.
Geizecler Tomazetto
Aarhus University, Postdoctoral Fellow

Geizecler Tomazetto is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University. She currently works with slug and ant microbiomes, and has experience working with multi-omics data for over ten years. She has diverse bioinformatics analysis experience with processing and analysis of amplicon, metagenomic, and proteomic data, and is especially interested in understanding carbon degradation.

By making our data and analyses accessible, understandable, and shareable, we can work together to unravel the complexities within microbial communities across the globe. The fact that this is not the most important aspect in microbial ecology, in science in general, is a disservice to all of us. I am passionate about making data analysis understandable for all researchers, and being an NMDC Champion would allow me to turn this passion into action.
Hannah Freund
University of California, Riverside, Ph.D. Candidate

Hannah Freund is a third year Ph.D. Candidate in the Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics program at UC Riverside. They work in Dr. Emma Aronson’s microbial ecology lab where they study microbiomes within the Salton Sea ecosystem, specifically dust microbiomes. Hannah is passionate about bioinformatics and data analysis, and is developing their own workflows for analyzing amplicon and shotgun metagenome sequence data. They are a proud nonbinary scientist that wants to make data analysis accessible and approachable to anyone, regardless of their background.

Active NMDC Champions
NMDC Champions are researchers who regularly engage with and contribute to the NMDC project.
Learn about the program→

Yigal Achmon (Guangdong Israel Institute of Technology)
Assistant Professor
I want to improve the scientific findings, reproducibility, and collaborative efforts among peers. I also want to help create community and to learn.
Kai Blumberg (University of Arizona)
Ph.D. Student
"I became an NMDC champion for because I want to participate in the creation of a unified and interoperable semantic layer which can be used to join data from different scientific disciplines. As an early career scientist, I'm very excited to potentially play a role in enabling scientists to unify our knowledge and data to better address global scale environmental challenges."
John-Marc Chandonia (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Computational Biologist Research Scientist
"I became an NMDC Champion because I am interested in collaborating to develop new technologies for managing data. I am particularly interested in solving long-standing challenges in making data truly interoperable and reusable."
Sean Cleveland (University of Hawai'i)
Cyberinfrastructure Research Scientist
I want to be a part of the process for defining FAIR standards and integrations, as this data is important and expensive to acquire and therefore should be responsibly managed. The need for standards and methods for integration is essential.
Sneha Couvillion (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
Staff Scientist
Open science and FAIR data is the future. As an early career scientist, I want to be part of a collaborative, diverse and empowered microbiome research community. I became an NMDC champion to help foster and promote this culture in microbiome science.
Justine Debelius (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)
Assistant Scientist
Science relies on our ability to replicate data. Transparency in data science requires access to the same datasets. Meta analysis requires access to consistent datasets. I'd like to help shape the future of microbiome metadata and find a way to make data more accessible.
JP Dundore-Arias (California State University, Monterey Bay)
Assistant Professor
"I became an NMDC Champion because I am excited to be part of this collaborative community developing efforts to increase awareness, access and engagement in the microbiome research community."
Cassie Ettinger (University of California, Riverside)
Postdoctoral Researcher
I would like to be an advocate to the community for reproducible workflows, open code and do more than just lead by example, but work to educate others on these topics.
Alexis Garretson (George Mason University)
Graduate Research Fellow
"I hope as an NMDC Champion I can apply my knowledge of data rescue, scientific gateways, and data integration efforts to support the ongoing work of NMDC and advocate for FAIR microbiome data."
Sean Gibbons (Institute for Systems Biology)
Assistant Professor
"I became an NMDC Champion because I believe that access to usable public data and metadata is a right and not a privilege."
Buck Hanson (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
What drives me ultimately to advocate for FAIR microbiome data is accessibility. This means not only finding data files but importantly, the context in which the data derives from. Knowledge sharing and communication is the best way forward. I believe that a greater understanding of Earth’s microbiomes will inspire new tools and approaches for future challenges.
Judson Hervey (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL))
Research Biologist
I became an NMDC champion to promote consistent metadata, data acquisition standards, and data analysis workflows from the metagenome community to other meta*omics studies, researchers, and communities.
Alex Honeyman (Colorado School of Mines)
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
I became a NMDC Champion to promote applied, practical applications of environmental microbial ecology. We need to develop a reliable framework for data standards, which is an an important and timely task.
Bonnie Hurwitz (University of Arizona)
Associate Professor
Beautifully harmonized metadata is like a love letter to the future. NMDC is the global community and service making sure these letters get delivered!
Ulas Karaoz (LBNL)
"I became an NMDC Champion because as microbiome science shifts from data generation to interpretation, FAIR data is critical to enable integration of global datasets."
Marie Kroeger (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Chick-Keller Postdoctoral Fellow
I became a NMDC Champion to promote the FAIR microbiome data initiative which allows for more collaboration and increased reusability of data to answer outstanding scientific questions.
Kate Lane (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute / Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Ph.D. Student
Research using microbiome data continually transforms our understanding of life on Earth. Building an accessible, transparent, and robust data science ecosystem will enable more collaborative, reproducible, and impactful science.
Jessica Audrey Lee (NASA Ames Research Center)
Research Scientist
FAIR data are not only available but actually accessible and interpretable, making it easier for scientists new to the data science world to get involved and start doing productive research rapidly. That's one of the things that excites me most about open data. Being an NMDC Champion would help me keep in touch with the microbiome community, help me learn more about the movement toward FAIR data, and would allow me to make a substantive contribution. 
Ryan McClure (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
No species exists in a vacuum and interactions between species drive microbiomes worldwide.  I became an NMDC Champion to help ensure that the way scientists collect and share data is FAIR and drives our own interactions between researchers with diverse backgrounds and expertise, leading to better collaborative microbiology.
Nancy Merino (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
Postdoctoral Researcher

FAIR microbiome data is necessary to support collaborations and future research analyses. It is important to assess the data quality and connect the metadata, including sample processing and data creation/analyses steps. I became a NMDC champion to help test workflows and make microbiome data FAIR.

Jason Rothman (University of California, Irvine)
Postdoctoral Fellow
I strongly advocate for FAIR microbiome data in my field and have strove to incorporate detailed metadata in all of my studies. As a researcher who uses multi-omics to study diverse environments, I appreciate when others’ data is FAIR, so that I may draw parallels between our work. Simply put, advocating for, and implementing FAIR data is just the right thing to do.
Ahmed Shibl (New York University Abu Dhabi)
Research Associate
As an NMDC Champion, I will seek to connect and engage with microbiome researchers to tackle local and regional infrastructure challenges. I believe it is time for the microbiome community to push for an adaptable system that supports metadata curation, shared ownership of data, and seamless cross-study partnerships. I also hope to further give the FAIR Microbiome IN an international presence, allowing us to meet the NMDC objective of becoming a community-driven, integrative data science ecosystem.
Venkat Subramanian (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
Sr. Research Scientist
I want to become an NMDC champion to contribute towards the generation of a centralized and an easily accessible repository for metagenomic and multi-omics datasets that would open new avenues of exploratory biological research.
Luke Thompson (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)
Associate Research Professor
"I am excited to be an NMDC Champion because our community has a special opportunity to make our data more reusable -- empowering scientists, citizens, and governments to use this data for research, medicine, conservation, and restoration."
Alonna Wright (UC Davis)
PhD Candidate
“I believe microbiome data helps us better understand our world and our health. Making this data more accessible and adherent to FAIR data practices would provide opportunities for meaningful analyses that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.”
Ying Zhang (University of Rhode Island)
Associate Professor
I see from my own work the importance of benchmarking diverse approaches and making sure data obtained from different studies are standardized for comparison. I want to work with scientists of the same interests to help promote the production and documentation of high quality data.

NMDC Champion Alumni

Jenny Bratburd (UW Madison)
PhD Candidate
“I am excited about the potential for microbiome research to improve human health, and I believe we need to improve rigor and reproducibility to achieve that potential.”
Joan Damerow (LBNL)
Postdoctoral Fellow
I became an NMDC champion because I want to work together toward a culture of open and multi-disciplinary science--enabling global search and integration of microbiomes with associated environmental data now and in the future.

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