NIST Names App Challenge Winners

Sergey Nivens/

First place went to an app that provides simple access to chemical species data.

An app that provides researchers quick access to data about chemical combinations has snagged the grand prize in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s first-ever app-development competition.

Meru Lab Reference, created by Kris Reyes, provides users with access to a wide array of complex chemical species data, including an interactive periodic table and a search feature for finding species by name and formula. Users can access the most current information by simply tapping a near-field communication tag with their smartphones, according to a statement released Wednesday by the agency.

“We wanted to design an app that lets scientists, researchers and students access relevant NIST data on chemical species in a way that minimally interrupts their workflow,” Reyes said in a statement on the competition website. He was awarded $30,000 for the app.

Launched over the summer, NIST's Reference Data Challenge invited participants to build a mobile app that showcases one of six of the agency’s eligible data sets. The winners came from a pool of 25 competitors from across the country.

The second place prize went to LabPal, an app that brings together a handful of vital reference tools for those working in the science and engineering fields, including a calculator and lab notes. Third place was presented to ChemBook, an app that provides users with a way to search for elements and compounds.

The competition’s judges came from both the public and private sector, including the Commerce Department’s Chief Data Officer Ian Kalin and Google’s vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Vint Cerf.

(Image via Maksim Kabakou/