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WSW: Looking For Big Science Ideas? Check Out WMU

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After an internal competition at Western Michigan University, the best ideas were sent on to the National Science Foundation. WMU has three of the 33 nationwide entries in the NSF’s 2026 Idea Machine.

Those ideas include #WhyNotMe: Stem Diversity Drivers from Western’s Vice President for Research, Terry Goss Kinzy, who is also Professor of Biological Sciences, and the Director of Research at WMU’s Evaluation Center Lori Wingate. The STEM Teaching and Learning Incubator from Western Geography and Science Education Professor Todd Ellis. Reversibility: Future of Life on Earth comes from Billinda Straight, Professor of Anthropology and Gender and Women’s Studies at WMU.

Videos for all entries can be found at the National Science Foundation website. Comments are limited to 500 characters and are used as votes in the competition. From the field of 33, 12 will be selected for virtual interviews. Of those 12, up to four will be selected as winners of the 2026 Idea Machine.

WMUK's WestSouthwest Brief on WMU's entries in the National Science Foundation's 2026 Idea Machine

Ellis was also one of the winners of the Bronco Big Idea Competition. Scholarship money awarded to the winners will be used to get their proposed projects off the ground. Goss Kinzy says the National Science Foundation competition is unique because it is open to the public and the public can also comment and vote on the entries. Goss Kinzy says regardless of the competition’s results, she hopes to take Western’s project ideas forward.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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