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Inauguration of the Northeastern Visualization Consortium – Speakers Fernanda Viegas & Martin Wattenberg

The Northeastern University Visualization Consortium (NUVis) is a new interdisciplinary cross-university initiative to support the university’s research efforts in visualization and to connect faculty, researchers, and students across campus to foster a visualization community. Northeastern University’s interdisciplinary focus and structure is an ideal environment for such an interdisciplinary field of study, and the goal of NUVis, funded through a collaboration between the College of Arts, Media and Design and the College of Computer and Information Science, is to continue to foster and grow this important area of research. The Nuvis consortium is co-directed by Michelle Borkin (CCIS) and Dietmar Offenhuber (CAMD).

As our speakers from the inaugural event, we are happy to introduce Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg. They are the leaders of Google’s “Big Picture” data visualization research group, which invents new ways for people to understand and explore data. They are well known for their contributions to social and collaborative visualization, and the systems they’ve created are used daily by millions of people. Viégas holds a Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab; Wattenberg has a Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley. Their visualization-based artwork has been exhibited worldwide, and is part of the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Abstract Data is ubiquitous in our lives. It describes our neighborhoods, our cities, weather patterns, it helps track illnesses and contextualize social patterns. In an increasingly data-rich society, there’s a critical need for tools to help people understand and reason about complex information. Our research seeks to make data visualization accessible to everyone: from lay users to data experts. We will present work that exposes kids to complex data, explores the artistic expressiveness of data, uncovers the underworld of cyber crime and augments our knowledge of scientific fields such as machine learning. This approach to visualization as an inclusive communication medium points the way to a future where every citizen can more fully participate in a data-driven society.