Inspiring Connections

Hi there! I’m Michael Douma. I’m driven by a profound passion for leveraging innovation to enhance scientific, cultural, and linguistic literacy, all in the pursuit of bringing people together. With a background in neuroscience, my journey began as a web developer at NIST, where I conceptualized and brought to life the inaugural version of This set the stage for my future endeavors, marking the genesis of my commitment to utilizing technology as a conduit for positive societal impact.

As the founder and executive director of since 2002, I have been at the helm of groundbreaking initiatives, including SpicyNodes, WikiNodes, and literacy projects spanning history, cancer research, science, and the arts. My leadership has steered into a self-sustaining nonprofit renowned for its contributions to interdisciplinary learning and digital innovation.

With a collaborative ethos at the core of my approach, I have fostered a culture of empowerment and creativity within my team at This collaborative spirit extends to my role as the studio lead at IDEA Games, which developed OtherWordly, a space-themed mobile puzzle game that seamlessly blends word matching and missing letters with themes that reflect the diversity of human experience. OtherWordly stands as a testament to my commitment to delivering digital products that not only entertain but also enrich and educate.

Beyond my professional endeavors, I am a staunch advocate for inclusivity and innovation in education and gaming. My involvement as a judge for prestigious awards such as the Gee Awards, CODiE, Serious Play, and Reimagine Education underscores my dedication to recognizing and celebrating projects that embody thoughtful design and inclusivity.

As part of my work with and IDEA Games, I have secured significant funding to support my projects. I was a co-Principal Investigator on a $597,000 Dept. of Ed. FIPSE grant (#P116B011454) from 2001-2006, which facilitated the creation of multidisciplinary science-and-art websites. I also received an NSF-funded XSEDE 296k-hour supercomputer grant (#IRI130011) in 2013-2014. In 2023, I was awarded an NSF SBIR Phase I grant for $275,000, further validating the impact and potential of my work.

Aside from my work in the tech, non-profit and gaming worlds, I also have a creative and imaginative side that I bring to life through personal projects and hobbies. From inventing new recipes in the kitchen to building a basement hideout for my kids, I'm always seeking new challenges and opportunities to learn, play, and discover.

At the heart of my work lies an aspiration to foster literacy and forge connections across boundaries. Through inventive, accessible, and engaging experiences, I envision a world where barriers are dismantled, biases are diminished, and empathy flourishes. My journey is not just one of technological innovation but also of profound human connection and transformation.

See my LinkedIn profile.