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 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.
Jason Rothman
University of California, Irvine, Postdoctoral Fellow

Jason Rothman is a Hewitt Biomedical Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Irvine. He received his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of California, Riverside and has studied microbial communities associated with a variety of environments – from insects, to humans, and wastewater. Jason uses a variety of omics methods, including metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and metabolomics, to understand the tripartite interactions between hosts, microbes, and the environment. His most recent research has been focused on leveraging metatranscriptomics on wastewater to find novel SARS-CoV-2 variants during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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.
Buck Hanson
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Scientist

Buck Hanson has extensive experience in applying single-cell techniques to exploring microbial community composition and function in complex systems. With a strong background in working with in situ experimental systems, Buck’s work emphasizes the necessity to understand microbial activities in their natural habitats. His research experiences range from working with contaminated soil, groundwater, and the mammalian gut, and has particularly centered on applying stable isotope probing and fluorescence imaging approaches to characterize active microbial populations using metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and metaproteomics.

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. 
Jessica Audrey Lee
NASA Ames Research Center, Research Scientist

Jessica Audrey Lee is a microbiologist with eclectic interests. In the past, she has studied microbial community diversity in estuaries, deserts, soils, and food; designed communities in the lab; and studied physiology in single cells. At NASA, she works to understand how life from Earth interacts with space environments–which includes the dynamics of microbial communities on spacecraft, the effects of space conditions on microbial biology, and the use of microbes to sustain human life. And wherever Jessica is, she loves teaching about microbes and microbial diversity.

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."
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.
Ryan McClure (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
Microbiologist
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.

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.
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.
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.

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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