Thirty two entries selected by the NSF for public comment on the most pressing research questions in the coming decade
The NSF 2026 Idea Machine competition was designed to help set the U.S. agenda for basic research in science and engineering by entertaining submissions from scholars and students across the country. Individuals who submitted imaginative and pressing research questions to the competition stand to receive public recognition and prizes. Of the 800 entries submitted to the NSF, 3 of the 32 finalists invited to submit video pitches are WMU faculty and administrators. They are:
The STEM Teaching and Learning Incubator, Todd Ellis
Reversibility: Future of Life on Earth, Bilinda Straight
The NSF comment period has closed June 26. NSF continues judging of the final stage of the competition. See all 32 national entries.
Bronco Big Idea
To encourage Broncos to submit their big ideas to the NSF, OVPR created the Big Bronco Idea @WMU initiative to run concurrent with the NSF competition. The internal Bronco Big Idea winners were selected by a committee of junior faculty and graduate students, who are the future of STEM. The winners were Todd Ellis (faculty), who will receive a $6,000 research award; and two undergraduate students, Patrick Leny and Marsad Zoardar, who each will receive a $1,000 scholarship, and an additional $5,000 award to conduct research. To be eligible to win in the WMU competition, individuals had to submit their ideas both to the NSF 2026 Big Idea Machine and to the internal Bronco Big Idea competition.