Innovation Leaders 2020: Introducing the cohort

We announce the participants and projects joining our new mentorship and open leadership training programme.
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eLife Innovation Leaders is a 14-week open leadership training and mentorship programme designed for innovators developing prototypes or community projects, aimed at improving open science and research communication.

We’re pleased to announce that 22 teams will be joining the first cohort of the programme, which will start in the week beginning February 3. In the programme, the following teams will work with and learn from their assigned mentors, a panel of experts, as well as other cohort members, to advance their ideas into prototypes and sustainable open projects.

  1. Read mentors' and experts' profiles

A simple web app for data visualisation

Led by Harshil Agrawal, Mozilla Representative
Twitter @harshil1712 | GitHub harshil1712 | Website
“An open-source enthusiast, this Mozilla Representative loves to work for the community and help it grow. With his project idea, Harshil plans to build tools that benefit the Open Science Community.”

Open science grass-root communities: From local reach to global change

Co-led by Loek Brinkman, Lecturer / Community Manager, Utrecht University
Twitter @LoekBrinkman | GitHub LoekBrinkman | Website
“Founder and community manager at Open Science Community Utrecht; working on Open Science in Education; Research on attitudes towards Open Science; team member at National Platform Open Science”

Co-led by Antonio Schettino, Open Science Community Coordinator, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
Twitter @asch3tti | GitHub aschetti | Website
“I have a background in experimental psychology, cognitive and affective electrophysiology. During my academic career, I investigated the relationship between emotions and visual perception using a wide range of methodological and statistical tools. I adopted transparent and open science practices at every stage of the research cycle, from the preregistration of the initial idea to the publication of the final manuscript in peer-reviewed open-access journals.

“As Coordinator of the Open Science Community Rotterdam, I facilitate communications between members of the community, organize events and workshops, communicate such activities on social media, and personally support individual researchers and research groups with day-to-day activities related to open science."

Open-access research platform in Gujarati

Led by Sejal Davla, Research Associate, ASRC, CUNY
Twitter @JustABrainThing
“I am a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience, studying how clock mechanisms drive daily sleep/wake cycles. I am passionate about science communication and I aim to bring science to the population whose main language is not English. Growing up in a small town in India, I did not have access to the latest science stories because of the language barrier. My vision is to create an open-access platform that allows researchers to create scientific content in the regional language of their expertise. I am deeply convinced from my own experience is that communicating in regional languages is a powerful tool to make science inclusive and accessible.”

An open website for parasitological research

Led by Mariana De Niz, Postdoctoral Fellow, Instituto de Medicina Molecular
Twitter @mariana_deniz
“My name is Mariana De Niz and I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Lisbon, Portugal. My main research interest is in parasitology, biophysics and microscopy. During my career, I have worked on two main parasites: Plasmodium and Trypanosoma brucei. Various deadly diseases are caused by pathogens, yet the general public has little knowledge about such pathogens, their clinical relevance, or the scientific advances currently taking place. My proposed project aims to aid in solving the problem of accessibility to information and improving inclusion in the scientific process.”

The computational inclusion platform

Led by Sara El-Gebali
Twitter @yalahowy | Project website
“Co-founder of ACMHI (Academia, mental health, and inclusion), a platform for improving mental health and computational-inclusion in academia. One of the main challenges affecting the provision of knowledge and participation in open science, is access to computational tools, skills, infrastructure, and resources. Hence, we aim to gain a better understanding of the computational landscape, needs and requirements of individuals from different backgrounds in order to develop tools and solutions to alleviate the digital divide, ensuring equity and inclusion of diverse and under-represented communities in open science.

“I am passionate about open data, open science, FAIR data principles, scientific data management, community building, mental health, equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM."


Co-led by Gabriela Gaona, Software Engineer, Codium SA
Twitter @gabygaona | Github loorely
“Computer Engineer from the National University of Asuncion. Software developer with over 6 years of experience in the area; up to date working on leading teams and project management. In 2013, she co-founded Codium SA, a software factory interested in developing new ideas for private and public institutions.

“CEO at Girls Code, a nonprofit organization of Female Programmers and Computer Scientists who work for girls that deserve the opportunity to be introduced to the world of CS.”

Co-led by Jose Rafael Monagas, Telecommunications Engineer and Cofounder of Friendbot
“I am a Telecommunications engineer from Venezuela. I co-founded the first startup incubator in Caracas. I am focused on the development of solutions for complex problems through the use of technology.”

Metrics Literacy

Led by Stefanie Haustein, Assistant professor, University of Ottawa
Twitter @stefhaustein | Website
“Stefanie Haustein is an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Information Studies, where she teaches research methods and evaluation, knowledge organization, information visualization, social network analysis and information literacy. Her research focuses on scholarly communication, bibliometrics, Altmetrics and open science. Stefanie is currently developing a metrics literacy research program which aims to reduce the misuse of scholarly metrics in academia.

“Stefanie co-directs the ScholCommLab, a research group that analyzes all aspects of scholarly communication in the digital age.

“She is also an associate member of the Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie (CIRST) and a faculty affiliate at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP), University of Ottawa."

Eco-computing for bioinformatics research

Co-led by Ding He, Postdoc, University of Copenhagen
Twitter @ding_he | GitHub dinhe878
“I am an evolutionary biologist/bioinformatics scientist, working on microbiome research with a focus on aspects of symbiosis. I am also very interested in learning and promoting good bioinformatic practices. In joining the eLife Innovation Leaders Program, we propose a concept of "Eco-Computing" aiming to promote the importance of computational performance evaluation and resource management for bioinformatics research. By doing so, we would like to (1) raise the awareness of detail economy and cost-effectiveness of bioinformatics pipeline/analysis; (2) design appropriate evaluation measurements; (3) start designing good strategies to increase the efficiency of bioinformatics pipeline/analysis while reducing environmental impact.”

Co-led by Juan Manuel Irigaray
Twitter @tranjuan | GitHub jxoir
“I'm very passionate about technology with a special interest in coding, platforms, cloud computing and data science. I had the great opportunity of working with a mixture of different technologies and teams; with this experience I would like to give back by creating a sustainable compute framework to create awareness and educate on how to properly use these resources.”

CleanM8 initiative

Led by Brian Hill, CoFounder, MindM8 Ventures
Twitter @laughingmind
“An experienced digital strategist and health professional with a track record in business innovation, service transformation programs and startup ecosystem development in regional Australia. Adept at leveraging technology for business, health and environmental innovations, my consulting experience covers Digital Strategy + Services, Enterprise scale project delivery in Health, Govt and Industry settings. PhD Research candidate exploring AI relevance for HealthCare at UoN. ”


Led by Tomas Klingström, Researcher/Coordinator, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Twitter @KlingstromT
"Dr Tomas Klingström is a bioinformatician working at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He is the coordinator of the Gigacow infrastructure for data collection in dairy farms and a researcher in the Defend2020 project working with host response to Lumpy Skin Disease and African Swine Fever.

“With efficient dissemination of data and reproducible workflows, we can create more resilient global networks, working together to deal with emerging disease and other global threats. In our work tools such as Galaxy and Jupyter Notebooks are therefore an important tool to build sustainable research capacity in the agricultural sciences."

A visual interface for the NEON data

Led by Wai-Yin Kwan, Software engineer
GitHub wykhuh | Website
“I’m a life-long innovator who likes to make things. After turning two hobbies into careers (paper engineering and software engineering), I want to do it for the third time. I am interested in combining my love of science and my programming skills to help communicate science.”


Led by Raoni Lourenço, PhD Candidate, New York University
Twitter @raonilourenco | GitHub raonilourenco | GitLab raonilourenco
“PhD Candidate in Computer Science at the New York University, M.S. in Information Engineering from UFABC (Brazil) and B.S in Computer Science from UFAM (Brazil). Software developer with 15 years of experience developing applications for different computer architectures in Java, C, C++, C#, Lua and Python. Currently focusing on machine learning approaches to synthesize, debug and optimize scientific workflows, the main goal is to provide open-source tools for scientists in any field to be able to identify errors in their workflows, using provenance and reproducibility system.”

bims: Biomed News

Led by Gavin McStay, Associate Professor, Staffordshire University
Twitter @gavinmcstay2
“I am primarily a biomedical researcher focused on mitochondrial biology as well as a lecturer of molecular biology who has been based in the UK and USA. The Biomed News project arose due to my frustrations trying to identify relevant papers amongst the thousands released each week.”

An open-source tool to help simplify scientific writing

Led by Laura Mears, PhD Student, University of Southampton
“Laura is a writer and programmer interested in making open-source tools to help scientists communicate their work.”


Led by Sara Memar, Neuroinformatic Specialist, The University of Western Ontario
Twitter @memar_sara | Project website
“Neuroinformatics Specialist at BrainsCAN, University of Western Ontario. I have been Responsible for the development and application of the novel algorithms, computational models, database, and image analysis. I play a key role in designing, developing, coding, testing, and deploying MouseBytes: an open-access and web-based repository for cognitive data integration and sharing.”

Article Review Metrics

Led by Sacha Nelson, Professor of Biology, Brandeis University
Twitter @SachaBNelson | Website
“My lab works at the interface of genomics and neuroscience. Long interested in open science and scientific publishing, I chaired the Society for Neuroscience publications committee, and was an eLife Reviewing Editor since its inception. Article Review Metrics (ARMs) enable experts or crowd-sourced reviewers to evaluate research articles for likely impact, audience, novelty and technical merit. Answers are coarsely quantified and supported by explanations. I propose to develop interoperable software tools for performing, archiving, and analyzing these metrics. My project reflects my belief that how science is evaluated shouldn't depend on the journal it's published in.”

An evaluation and recruiter platform for cognitive neuroscience studies

Led by András Puszta, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Oslo/Helgeland Hospital, Department of Neuropsychology
GitHub pusztasndras
"I graduated as a medical doctor in Szeged, Hungary in 2015. After that, I completed my PhD studies in cognitive neuroscience. Currently, I work as a postdoc in Helgelandhospital, Mosjoen, Norway. My research interests centre around the electrophysiological correlates of visual/multimodal working memory tasks in humans. The goal of my project is to set up a web-application and a connected smartphone-based platform, in which researchers can advertise their online and/or offline studies, and people from all around the world can participate, and track different experiments.”

A platform to improve research software citation

Led by Sarthak Sehgal, BioJS
Twitter @_sarthaksehgal | GitHub sarthak-sehgal | Website
“Sarthak is a software engineer who is passionate about open science software. He is an active member of the BioJS project and participates in the Google Summer of Code program as a mentor with the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF). In the Innovation Leaders programme, he will be working on building a system to ease the process of citation of open science software.”


Led by Lana Sinapayen, Researcher, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.
Twitter @sina_lana | Website
"I am an Artificial Life / Artificial Intelligence researcher in Tokyo. My main research interests are the evolution of cognition and predictive coding.
“I am also passionate about the questions of how to do better science and how to foster small scale science communities. I am developing a web platform (Mimosa) to facilitate open science, science literacy, and organic collaboration. Unlike current research papers, Mimosa would favour live updates, not static publications; crowdsourced expertise; shared experimental protocols; research groups formed by the research question, not by country/institution; remote collaboration, but local meetup events ("bite-size conferences").”

Ai Monkey

Led by Amit Kumar Singh, Institute of Management Studies, Ranchi University
"Self-taught computer programmer and founder of "Feelin - Share what you feel". I have 2.5+ years of experience specializing in backend/infrastructure, full-stack development and security. My project is an "Ai Monkey" artificial intelligence-assisted browser that can give us an interactive browsing experience. Nowadays, there are many websites everywhere but we don't know which ones to trust. Facing this problem, I thought of building "Ai Monkey", a monkey with Ai capabilities which will help find trusted and safe websites while browsing and keep you protected. "

An online resource for women scientists

Led by Mayya Sundukova, Postdoctoral Researcher, Biofisika – Basque Center for Biophysics
Twitter @MayyaSundukova
"I have a background in Physics and a PhD in Neuroscience. At work, I am making the invisible processes visible (in particular, fluorescent) and studying how molecules shape the behaviour. Outside of work, I am an enthusiast of Performing and Visual Arts for my creativity and well-being.

“My recent maternity hiatus stimulated my search for new, creative approaches to productivity and communication. In addition, I am exploring which stories and practices have more potential in nurturing mental health, promoting a sense of community and empowering women in science during maternity."

An open-source quantitative PCR analysis packageCo-

Co-led by Edward Wallace, Sir Henry Dale Fellow, University of Edinburgh
Twitter @ewjwallace | GitHub ewallace | Website
"Dr Wallace is a quantitative biologist interested in gene expression and cellular adaptation. He leads a group that integrates experimental and computational approaches to understand how fungi use dynamic RNA processing to adapt to their environment. They are also working on better analysis of ribosome profiling data in a US-UK collaboration:

“This project seeks to improve the routine analysis of quantitative PCR data using modern data science tools from the tidyverse: The goal is to develop a "MIQE" best-practice compliant, open-source, reliable and reproducible lightweight analysis package. A linked goal is to learn about engaging communities in best practices for open science, and to produce teaching materials for a qPCR analysis workshop."

Co-led by Sam Haynes, PhD student, University of Edinburgh
Twitter @youvegotmyname | GitHub DimmestP
"I am a Bioinformatician at the Edward Wallace lab. I develop Bayesian statistical models of novel RNA-seq assays to better discern differential gene expression. I am particularly interested in how cells (specifically yeast) regulate their mRNA levels post-transcriptionally, i.e. by changing decay rates. Working alongside experimental biologist has highlighted a need for clear and adaptable code for analysing biological data in a reproducible way and independent of proprietary software. The first of which is tidyqpcr, which, working alongside Edward, will be an open source, community led and statistically rigorous R package for analysing qPCR data."

NLP in building biological knowledge graphs

Led by Ruihan Zhang, Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Twitter @ruihan_zhang
“With the dream of lowering the barrier to academic publication comprehension, I wish to develop a natural language processing algorithm to extract biological processes from papers. This will serve as a building block for a biological knowledge graph and power a relation-based search engine. My undergraduate research training as a system neuroscientist and my current position in the Media Lab at MIT gives me an interdisciplinary perspective of efficient scientific communication. It’s my great honour to work with everyone in this program. Feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions!”


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