Information Visualization - Guest Speaker Series

What is this about and who is it for?

In the context of the cross-listed Information Visualization course at the university of Victoria, we are hosting a guest speaker series in which renowned visualization practitioners share their work.

The format is quite simple: on Wednesday each week, a guest speaker will present their work in 20 to 30 minutes; this will then be followed by a Q&A session. These presentations and discussion sessions take place during class time and are open to any member of the UVic community (sign in through SSO is required).

Although the global situation we are currently in forces us to move courses online and certainly affects how we engage in learning activities, it also creates this great opportunity for us to invite renowned guest speakers to the (virtual) classroom.


alper sarikaya

BIOGRAPHY | I am interested in harnessing the power of data visualization and its applications to various problem domains, especially the power of visual summaries to understand and navigate large datasets. I am working toward creating both descriptive and prescriptive understanding of the design of visualizations designed to summarize, looking at how these visualizations are designed with respect to characteristics of the data and analyst task. I use this information to build software that enables people to create data visualizations, thereby helping everyone make sense of large amounts of data. I attended the University of Washington, and then earned a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the area of data visualization. My experience includes creating visualizations for biological analyses and using visualization to summarize large amounts of data to highlight trends, patterns, and anomalies. Currently, I work as an R&D engineer for Microsoft’s data visualization product, Power BI, as a component owner of its visuals.

ABSTRACT | In this talk, I’ll be presenting Power BI, the latest offering in Microsoft’s long history of business intelligence software. I’ll give an inside-out overview of how Microsoft thinks about how Power BI is at the core of "data culture", and how self-service visualization is at the center of it. I’ll share the different industry roles this software helps enable, and give an inside look on my day-to-day work, helping people to create visualizations, reports, and dashboards to help people gain insights on their own data without the requirement of programming or database knowledge.


bon aseniero

BIOGRAPHY | Bon Adriel Aseniero is an interdisciplinary information designer, computer scientist, and visual artist, soon to be based in Toronto, Canada. He currently works at Autodesk Research as a Senior Research Scientist. His research interests lie in the intersection of Information Visualization and Human–Computer Interaction, particularly in discovering how delightful visualizations can engage and support people in exploring data.

He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Calgary, under the supervision of Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale and Dr. Anthony Tang. His work has received recognition in the form of scholarship awards including the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Doctoral Scholarship (NSERC PGS) and the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures Award (AITF), and he has previously collaborated with institutions such as the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), World Health Organization (WHO), and Nokia-Bell Labs.

In his spare time, Bon Adriel enjoys photography, drawing and illustration, painting, online gaming, and travelling to new places.

ABSTRACT | Reflections on the Design of Delightful Visualizations. Data surrounds us in our everyday lives, ranging from personal data about ourselves (e.g., physical activity data, diaries, etc.) to those that are not necessarily personal, but that we have a vested interest in. Understanding such data could help us learn about and reflect upon ourselves. This may well be the case why data exploration in personal contexts is a growing trend. Data Visualizations, or interactive, visual representations of data, offers a way of enabling people to explore and understand data. In my research in data visualizations, I have designed and implemented several visualizations for various personal contexts; from individuals logging their own activities, to several people (both novices and experts) convening in public engagement settings to learn about a dataset together. Central to these projects, is an emphasis on designing nonconventional representations and aesthetics. Reflecting upon this body of work through my design journal sketches, I give insight as to how information designers might design new representations from sketches to working prototypes.

FEBRUARY 3, 2021 | 15:30-16:30 PST | JON SALTER | ESRI CANADA

jon salter

BIOGRAPHY | Jon joined Esri Canada in 2019 as Associate Director of Education and Research. The Education and Research group supports GIS teaching and learning in both K-12 and higher education, and actively partners on academic research projects. Jon has over 20 years of GIS and 3D visualization research and consulting experience, applying it to forestry, multiple objective landscape planning, and urban planning and design. He completed his PhD at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability on community-scale energy planning. Before joining Esri Canada Jon was a senior researcher at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, managing an urban planning and design lab.

ABSTRACT | The Visualization Landscape: Geovisualization past, present, and prospect. This talk will discuss geovisualization, from its roots in cartography, through the development of geographic information systems (GIS), and towards a future where the proliferation of sensors and real-time data present both challenges and opportunities for visualization. The talk will discuss what makes geovisualization unique, but also how it relates to the broader field of visualization. Finally, the talk will place visualization within the context of application for decision-making. How can visualization help us make better, more informed choices about how we interact with the world around us?


matthew brehmer

BIOGRAPHY | I am a senior research staff member of Tableau Research in Seattle, where I focus on information visualization.

I am interested in expressive visualization design for communication and presentation, visualization and interaction design for devices large and small, and the visualization of time-oriented data.

ABSTRACT | This presentation will provide an overview of interactive visualization tools. The overview will consider tools used in practice, recent prototype tools from the visualization research community, and promising directions for future visualization tools based on current research trends. The presentation will also feature three lessons pertaining to multi-tool workflows, distinguishing chart-pickers from bespoke visualization specification tools, and the distinction between visualization authoring and visualization design.


richard brath

BIOGRAPHY | Richard’s commercial systems group creates strategic visualization and analytics for data vendors, financial institutions and software companies to execute their vision. Richard works with executive management to define the vision, ideate through user-centered design, and implement real-world solutions. Richard recently completed a part-time PhD (2018); has authored two books on data visualization: Graph Analysis and Visualization, (with David Jonker, Wiley 2015), and Visualizing with Text (AK Peters, 2020), and writes a visualization blog.

ABSTRACT | Visual Analytic Systems for Subject Matter Experts. At Uncharted, we create profoundly visual software for improved awareness, analysis and decision-making used by hundreds of thousands in government, law enforcement, finance, and more. We’ll consider a few examples of our work for subject matter experts in diverse domains such as major league baseball, financial markets, automated insights, anti-human trafficking, and social media analysis.


jagoda walny

BIOGRAPHY | Jagoda completed her Ph.D. in Information Visualization in the Interactions Lab at the University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale. She spent several years leading a data visualization design team in creating visualizations about energy data for the Canadian public. She now leads a UX and Data Visualization design team at the Canada Energy Regulator, working within multidisciplinary groups to create data visualizations that help structure and communicate data internally and to Canadians.

ABSTRACT | So you’re a data visualization design and coding whiz, now what? When you create data visualizations as a student, you usually create them with fellow data visualization enthusiasts. If you work for clients or in a large organization, things can be quite different. I reflect on my own experiences creating visualizations in multidisciplinary teams to discuss some of the challenges I have encountered and suggest a few non-technical skills that may serve you well.

MARCH 10, 2021 | 15:30-16:30 PST | FRANK HANGLER | PLOT + SCATTER

BIOGRAPHY | Frank Hangler is a designer and developer with over a decade of experience in full-stack web development, data design, and visualization. During five years at TELUS, Frank worked on innovations teams, exploring new technologies and building tools to enhance internal collaboration and knowledge sharing. In over six years as principal of Plot + Scatter, Frank has helped teams at organizations large and small gain insight into their data, especially via custom-built, web-based data visualizations. Frank has taught and presented on information visualization to business and academic audiences and is an organizer of the Vancouver Data Visualization Meetup. Beyond his visualization work, he is interested in the relationship between society, technology, and design in the digital era. Frank holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and computer science, both from UBC, and an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet from the University of Oxford.

ABSTRACT | In advance of the 2015 Canadian federal election, Plot + Scatter built a well-received web visualization enabling curious citizens to explore possible electoral outcomes on a riding-by-riding basis. A few years later, we decided to revisit the visualization. What worked? What didn’t? How could we improve the tool? In this talk, I share our design process and explore some of the challenges and opportunities of redeveloping existing visualizations.


johanna fulda

BIOGRAPHY | Johanna got her MSc from the University of Munich and moved to Vancouver in 2014 to work with the Infovis Group and the School of Journalism at UBC. Now she’s working as a Software Developer by day - and still trying to work on data journalistic projects on the side. She also organizes Vancouver’s Data Visualization Meetup.

ABSTRACT | Clir is a Renewable Energies startup in Vancouver. We analyze wind turbine data to improve their performance and efficiency. Data visualization is a crucial part of this work, for one as a tool for our data scientists to work with the huge amounts of data and to detect irregularities and patterns, on the other hand to communicate insights to the clients, which use the data insights to prevent failure, to avoid downtime and to keep track of the wind farm’s performance.

MARCH 24, 2021 | 15:30-16:30 PST | LI JI | LLAMAZOO INTERACTIVE INC.

BIOGRAPHY | Dr. Li Ji works with LlamaZOO, a Canadian data visualization and analytics company based in Victoria focusing on spatial and three-dimensional industrial data visualization solutions. Li’s research interest includes dataset visualization and rendering, visual perception and product usability designs.

ABSTRACT | In this talk, I will present LlamaZOO’s high-fidelity three-dimensional visual analytics framework and explore a few use cases in the forestry, land management and mining industries. I will demonstrate how information visualization and high-fidelity three-dimensional rendering is combined in LlamaZOO’s next-generation visual analytics products, and discuss the recent developments in industrial data fusing, processing and visual analytics.