Meet Mark Leonard, a CU Boulder Alumni, and co-founder of Modscholar! Modscholar is a scholarly communications platform that combines research institutions into a centralized network to make scholars’ lives more productive, connected, and allow for easy access to all scholarly research.
Mark was initially drawn to Boulder because of the vibrant science and tech community. He completed his undergraduate degree in Geophysics at CU Boulder while employed with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Mark is currently a Ph.D. candidate with NOAA and CU Boulder. He credits his entrepreneurial drive to a desire to give back to the scientific community. Mark wanted to take on projects bigger than himself and solve real problems. It wasn’t until he started his Ph.D. program that his eyes were opened to the problems facing science.
Modscholar is a purpose-driven “Spotify-for-Researchers” style platform that drives research institutions to a centralized place for researchers to actively engage with their community, showcase their research, and discover new research and people across disciplines. Unlike other scholarly networks, Modscholar does not lock in or sell your data to third parties! The ethical, centralized network gives scholars a reason to self-upload their research, which in return is valuable to research institutions. Modscholar serves as an effective research management tool for research institutions with analytics, profiling, and open-access repository services.
The novelty of Modscholar lies in its unique ability to connect institutions to a centralized platform. This centralized system can yield more intelligent algorithms to help research faculty discover and become more visible to the broader community.
During the team’s research, the Modscholar team learned that 75% of the world lacks access to research, meaning less than half of the world's scientists are used for solving problems! They believe 21st-century businesses need to actively support their communities and environment.
“Because most of the world's accessible research hides away in data silos by institutions, it would help the global science community if we connected institutions to make it easier to find, share, and create openly accessible research. Having this tool will create more equality and participation in science and accelerate scientific progress in ways never possible before.”
The Modscholar team consists of Mark Leonard, Lucas Laughlin, and Hadi Morrow. Lucas and Mark met in a software capstone course at CU Boulder. Hadi and Mark had known each other from working together at NOAA. The team’s advisors are Duane Casey and Francisco P. Hoyos, who were introduced through CU Boulder mentorship programs. Tom Bodgan, former president of UCAR, is another mentor to the team.
Modscholar is focusing on how research is shared worldwide. Covid-19 and stay-at-home orders amplified this communication issue for scholars and institutions. Before Covid-19, there was no online collaboration hub for researchers across the world to connect. As a result, scholars had difficulty staying updated with colleagues’ work and were unable to attend conferences and network. Scholars also struggled heavily when it came to accessing basic research without using their institution’s secure wifi connection. Covid-19 brought increased attention to this issue and the Modscholar team continues to work to solve this problem.
Advice for Current Students
Mark provides the following advice to students,
“If you can’t quit thinking about a problem that you want to solve, then go solve it!
If you’re an institution administrator or early-stage investor, talk to us! If you’re a researcher, test out our service. If you’re into having a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive scholarly community, follow us!”