CyVerse Training Lead Wins NSF 2026 Idea Machine Competition
Jason Williams, CyVerse Training Lead and Assistant Director of External Collaborations at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center (DNALC), has been awarded the Meritorious Prize in the National Science Foundation (NSF) 2026 Idea Machine Competition.
The goal of the NSF competition is to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering, encouraging individuals to submit pressing "grand challenges" in fundamental research or STEM education that have the potential for great impact.
Williams' idea, "Reinventing Scientific Talent," was chosen out of 800 entries as one of the top seven ideas. He is interested in building a "community of practice" to help researchers and scientists learn about the latest scientific techniques by connecting to others interested in the same subjects.
"We learn better when we learn together," Williams said. "Trying to keep up with the latest advances is always difficult. My big idea is really about enabling and empowering scientists, educators, researchers to do just that."
Williams leads CyVerse's education and training efforts, delivering national and international workshops on CyVerse platforms as well as organizing and orchestrating CyVerse webinars and training events across the U.S. Additionally, he is a certified instructor with The Carpentries, a non-profit community that teaches foundational coding and data science skills to researchers worldwide.
"Jason is the personification of how biologists can expand their computational skills by sharing and collaborating," said the University of Arizona (UArizona)'s Parker Antin, CyVerse's principal investigator. "Jason has been an inspiration to many budding scientists. His compassion and commitment for building communities of practitioners that encourage and educate each other is central for leveraging the new data science-inspired techniques in the ML/AI era. We are fortunate to have Jason as part of CyVerse for building such communities."
Working at the DNALC, Williams develops and delivers hands-on genetics education to middle, high-school, and college students and teachers, with a specialty in bioinformatics. He has also worked on expanding DNALC programs in China.
Williams will be an instructor at Foundational Open Science Skills, a hands-on open science workshop taught February 17–21 at CyVerse headquarters at UArizona, and also will be presenting at The Allied Genetics Conference April 22–26 in Washington, D.C.