The NISO Plus scholarship program is intended for anyone who feels that their voice and views are currently underrepresented in the information ecosystem. Scholarships are awarded annually, and applications are reviewed by a committee that includes representatives from the NISO staff, Board, Planning Committee, and current scholarship winners. The program is part of NISO’s ongoing efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. 

We engage with each year’s scholarship cohort not only at the NISO Plus conference, but also in professional development and networking events and activities throughout the year. 

Michael Chimalizeni (he/him) is a metadata consultant collaborating with the World Health Organization. He is also a dedicated champion of Inclusive Technology and Library Services in Zimbabwe. His extensive information and knowledge management experience spans research and stakeholder engagement across both the Agriculture and Health Information arenas . His expertise lies in building and sustaining effective working partnerships across disciplines . Michael holds the distinctions of being a Carnegie Fellow and a Commonwealth Scholar . His multifaceted background reflects a commitment to advancing information accessibility and knowledge management on a global scale.

Sunny Chung (she/her) is a dedicated Health Sciences Librarian at Stony Brook University in New York . She is currently the Liaison to the School of Nursing and Program in Public Health . Within the Health Sciences Library, Sunny is responsible for various events, including the Pet Therapy fair and annual Health Tech Fair . Her active professional involvement extends to being a member of the Liberty Chapter of the Medical Library Association and as President of the board of the Medical and Scientific Libraries of Long Island (MEDLI) . Sunny holds an MLIS,  AHIP (Association of Health Information Professionals) designation, and chairs the Stony Brook University Library’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee.

CJ Garcia (he/him) serves as a Health Sciences Librarian at the Creighton University Health Sciences Campus Phoenix, where he provides support to various health sciences disciplines through literature searching, research consultations, instruction, and evidence-based practice guidance . CJ manages the library’s data services for the Phoenix campus, drawing on his expertise in both traditional and technology driven library roles.

CJ earned his MA in Library and Information Science from the University of Arizona, as well as a graduate certificate in Instruction and Teaching for Librarians. He also holds a BA in Classics from Arizona State University . Additionally, CJ is an active member of numerous professional associations, including NASIG, where he holds a lifetime membership, the Medical Library Association, the Research Data Access and Preservation Association, and the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona . In his free time, he engages in video games, cares for his two cats, and enjoys exploring culinary pursuits with his husband. 

Tianji Jiang (he/him) is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)’s School of Education and Information Studies program . His passion pivots around advocating for the openness and sharing of research data, with a specific focus on how libraries can contribute to the research data life cycle and maximize the benefits of open data.

As a dedicated library science student, Tianji’s dissertation research delves into identifying and comparing factors influencing data reusability from the perspectives of different stakeholders in interdisciplinary settings. The anticipated findings aim to overcome barriers to cross-disciplinary data reuse. Beyond his dissertation work, Tianji actively engages in various research endeavors . These include investigations into motivations and behaviors related to data sharing, as well as exploring metrics to assess open data usage . Ultimately, he envisions developing partnerships and collaborating on projects with research data repositories, data centers, libraries, and the broader scientific community . His overarching goal is to advance the understanding of data sharing and reuse while contributing to the development of infrastructure for enhanced data utilization.

Vashalice Kaaba (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in Library and Information Science at Florida State university. She brings a diverse background in education and sociology to her scholarly endeavors. Her academic focus encompasses Children’s Literature, Critical Literary Theory, Emerging Data Technology, and a comprehensive study of the John Newbery Award and Honors canon . 

Since 2023, Vashalice has been the driving force behind the “Library in a Box” initiative at FSU . This innovative initiative aims to address literacy disparities in both rural U.S. regions and the global south . As the designer and developer of the program, her commitment to overcoming educational and technological challenges in marginalized communities is transparent.

Vashalice served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda, Africa, where she worked as an English teacher and community librarian . This unique experience enriches her understanding and approach to global challenges. Her research is deeply influenced by her experience and the perspective she gained.

Currently, as a library research and grants analyst at the Strozier Library of FSY, Vashalice effectively blends research with practical applications . Her academic depth, field experience, and commitment to addressing literacy disparities position her to contribute meaningfully to the library science field.

Nataliia Kaliuzhna is currently a Ph.D. student in Library and Information Science at Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts, as well as a Research Associate at the Leibniz Information Center for Science and Technology (TIB) . In her role at TIB, Nataliia focusses her efforts on investigating the challenges faced by researchers who have weak institutional ties within the realm of open-access publishing.

Prior to joining TIB Nataliia made significant contributions at the State Scientific and Technical Library of Ukraine . Her involvement in various projects aimed at fostering Open Science practices in Ukraine included contributions to the development of a roadmap for applying FAIR data principles to research information in open infrastructures . She also played a key role in coordinating the formation of ORCID-Ukraine consortia and contributed to the national CRIS implementation.

Beyond her formal employment, Nataliia actively engages in community activities . She serves as an Associate Editor at DOAH and plays a vital role on the Society for Scholarly Publishing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee  Her engagements underscore her commitment to advancing open-access and promoting diversity within the scholarly publishing community.

Emory LaPrade (they/them) currently serves as the Cataloging and Metadata Librarian for the Johnson City Public Library in northeast Tennessee, on the ancestral homelands of the Cherokee nation . They hold a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Tennessee Technological University and an MSIS from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

While Emory’s primary job focus is on maintaining the local consortium database, they are equally passionate about social justice in metadata, open information access, and cultural heritage metadata . Looking forward, Emory aims to run programs in collaboration with local archives, empowering patrons to learn how to digitize, preserve, and apply effective metadata to their personal collections . Their particular focus is on preserving and promoting evidence of the vibrant queer culture of Southern Appalachia . 

Outside of the library, Emory’s interests include spinning yarn, weaving, and cultivating natural dye plants. Their diverse pursuits reflect a commitment to both professional and personal endeavors that contribute to the enrichment and preservation of cultural heritage.

Judy Low (she/her) is a graduate student enrolled in the MLIS program at the University of Washington, building upon her academic foundation of a bachelor of arts in English from UC Riverside. Low currently serves as a Library Assistant at the Pasadena Public Library, working across a variety of services including collection development, archival preservation, circulation, reference, and database management . Her passion centers on a community-led approach, emphasizing a digitally enabled, user-centric experience . She aspires to champion accessibility and representation to empower, inspire, and eng age lifelong curiosity and connection to the library

Low is a current recipient of the UW information School Scholarship, the Chinese American Librarians Association Sheila Suen Lai Scholarship of Library and Information Science, and the ALA Spectrum Scholarship.

Mohamad Mostafa (he/him) is dedicated to fostering a more open and inclusive research ecosystem and actively engages with communities to promote Open Research principles . In his current role at DataCite, he focuses on supporting emerging regions across Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa . Mohamad played a key role in launching the ORCID Arabic interface in the Arab world and served as a volunteer Crossref Ambassador for the MENA region, advocating for the adoption of various Persistent Identifiers (PIDs).

Passionate about Open Science ,Mohamad has extensive experience in scholarly publishing, emphasizing information ethics . He is the creator of ‘Think. Check. Attend.”, an initiative built to assist academics in choosing the right conferences to attend or present and avoid misleading events.

Karina Sánchez (xx/xx)  is the Scholars Lab Librarian at the University of Texas at Austin where she is dedicated to advancing digital scholarship research through the innovative digital scholarship center, Scholars Lab. 

Throughout her journey as a librarian, Karina’s experiences have enriched her appreciation for the vase resources that libraries offer . She is deeply involved in aiding researchers in utilizing open access digital scholarship tools, digitally preserving materials, and fostering a collaborative space for sharing scholarly work. Karina has witnessed firsthand the pivotal role that technical tools play in advancing scholarly communications . She aims to leverage the wealth of those resources in her capacity managing a digital scholarship center. This includes advocating for open-access digitally preserved materials, facilitating access to technical tools, offering insights into metadata, and ensuring ethical priorities in digital tools, especially when representing diverse voices in materials and research.

Maria Smith is the Electronic Resources Librarian at Townsend Memorial Library of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas . She is dedicated to overseeing the entire lifecycle of the library’s electronic resources . Problem solving issues and concerns related to access is of particular interest and brings her great joy to resolve challenges . Her professional interests include digital preservation, the accessibility of electronic resources, and information literacy. Maria’s diverse background and dedication to her responsibilities underscore her commitment to the effective management and accessibility of electronic resources in the library setting.

Maria is a recent graduate from Texas Woman’s University where she earned her MLIS . She also holds an AA in Social Science from Central Texas College and a BA in Psychology from Columbia College . Prior to her library career, Maria served in the United States Army from 1997-2001 . Her military journey included studying Arabic at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, California and later being assigned to the 312th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Cavazos (formerly Ft. Hood), Texas

Katherine Witzig (she/they) is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and an advocate within the 2SLGBTQ+ and disability communities where she draws on her personal experiences and connections to unveil the wisdom and amplify the voices of underserved populations . Katherine holds degrees from the University of Central Oklahoma (BA, English) and Oklahoma City University (BA Spanish), and is in her final semester of the MLIS program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Currently, Katherine serves as the Oklahoma Library Association’s Chair for the Committee of Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums, as well as the co-chair of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC)’s Task Group for Metadata Related to Indigenous Peoples of the Americas . Her professional goal is to reinforce the knowledge support system for the vibrant Indigenous communities in Oklahoma through facilitating meaningful relationships and conversations between libraries, tribal institutions, and the personnel serving the broad population of  Indigenous community members.

Beyond her professional work, Katherine is an artist specializing in sewing and beadwork . She teaches beadwork technique and artistry to classes of Native K-12 students in partnership with Epic Charter Schools.