Jason Williams, the Assistant Director of External Collaborations of the 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.”
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 and has a leadership role in CyVerse, an NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure project to benefit life science research.