Meet IOS: Eric Lyons

Eric Lyons

Title: Eric Lyons, Program Director BIO/IOS – PGRP

Education: Bachelor’s: UC Berkeley – Immunology, Master’s: UC Berkeley – Microbial Biology, Ph.D.: UC Berkeley – Plant Biology

Home Institution: University of Arizona

Tell us about your research:

I am an associate professor in the school of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona. My research focuses on scalable computational systems and infrastructure to support and accelerate life science research, and the structure, evolution, and dynamics of genomes. To support this, I am (on leave while at NSF) a co-PI on CyVerse, an NSF funded project to provide cyberinfrastructure for life science research; my research group develops and maintains the comparative genomics platform, CoGe, which currently stores nearly 33,000 genomes and provides dynamic tools for analyzing, comparing, and visualizing genomic data. While the majority of my work has been working on plant genomic data, I’ve published papers analyzing avian, microbial, and vertebrate data, and various topics in computational biology and data visualization.

What made you want to step into your role at NSF?

After serving on my first panel as a postdoc, I was deeply impressed with the program directors I met and started thinking about serving at NSF. I spoke with over two dozen people who were current or former PDs at NSF, and all of them said that it was an amazing experience and one that I would most likely enjoy. Everyone shared stories, leaving me the conviction to come to NSF.

What are you looking forward to during your time at NSF?

One of my primary motivations is to give back to the organization that has provided me with so many opportunities. In addition, I have found that serving on panels provides a unique opportunity to see the science of the future, rather the science of the past (e.g., reviewing/reading papers). In that process, I am looking forward to getting a broad overview of many investigators’ research trajectories, which together create a tapestry of the future of plant and genomic sciences. One unexpected bonus of being at NSF is the incredible set of speakers that visit.

What is something that you would like people to know about you?

I’m an avid (though amateur) birder and pinball player. I’m looking forward to seeing many of the eastern birds for the first time as spring arrives, seeing the sights of D.C., and enjoying the diversity of great food in the area. If anyone wants to play pinball, please let me know. Also, if you have a broken pinball machine, I’m happy to get it flipping.