Co-Laboratory for Data Impact

The Co-Laboratory for Data Impact focuses on narrative data strategies and is committed to advancing civic-oriented and impactful visual storytelling for issues of public urgency in the areas of diversity, transparency, and sustainability. The lab will serve as the university hub for faculty, staff, and students looking to communicate visually with data in the public sphere and for external partners of various kinds seeking expertise in this domain.

The Co-Lab was soft-launched on Nov. 14, 2018, and will formally launch in Fall 2019.

Through creative practice and research, the lab will contribute to the fields of design and data journalism, exploring areas such as visual poetics, metaphors, and evidentiary aesthetics. We will aim to expand the vocabulary of public data storytelling by using the wellspring of a broad range of approaches: journalistic, design-centric, and artistic. We aim at facilitating sense-making around digital information, while providing the tools for public audiences to understand the world in new impactful ways. We value quantitative rigor and data integrity while risking innovative, poetic and metaphoric data portrayals. We will collaborate and influence and advocate for the power of visual arguments and data narratives. We want our audiences to say, loudly, “Wow.”



Gibby is a 3rd year computer science and journalism student in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences. Her primary interests are in text and data analysis. She has worked in technical writing and development.



Szu Yu is a graduate student at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism and writer at the Storybench. She is passionate about data analysis and visualization. She previously worked at a design consultancy and a digital media in Shanghai.



Laura South is a PhD student at Northeastern University in Khoury College of Computer Sciences. Her research applies information visualization to social and political issues like political debates and accessibility. She is advised by Professor Michelle Borkin.



Alex is a 5th year computer science and design student in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences. His primary interests are in data visualization and interactive storytelling. He has worked at Upstatement and The Boston Globe.




Staubmarke is a public space installation in Stuttgart – a city affected by airborne particulate matter pollution. Controversies between public health advocates, the city, and the local industry often manifest in disputes about proper methods of measurement and the veracity...

Simulated Dendrochronology of U.S. Immigration 1790-2016

Nature has its own ways of organizing information: organisms grow and register information from the environment. This is particularly notable in trees, which, through their rings, tell the story of their growth. Drawing on this phenomenon as a visual metaphor,...

Art of the March

Art of the March is an online archive and interactive presentation of protest signs and posters collected in the aftermath of the historic Boston Women’s March on January 21, 2017. This website contains digital images of over 6000 signs placed...

Mapping Media and Politics

Using social media and news coverage datasets, this cluster of projects explores and maps sentiment of political messaging on Twitter; the magnitude and longevity of political advertisements on Facebook; and the foci and gaps in media coverage surrounding issues like...

Maps of Daesh

The ongoing Syrian civil war raises new cartographic challenges, including the ethical question of how the self-proclaimed Islamic State should be represented. States and news organizations face a conundrum: by mapping IS territory, they implicitly acknowledge its statehood. This project...

The State Financial Disclosure Project

While national debate in the United States continues over financial disclosure practices for federal officials, personal financial disclosure for state and local officials remains an under-studied area also in need of more sunlight and scrutiny. This research project scores each...



The Co-Laboratory for Data Impact will continue to host data storytelling hackathons that serve as the interface connecting students and faculty with the public, stimulating exchange beyond the classroom and generating ideas that are inspired by the pressing needs of affected communities. Our hackathons foster an ethos of “thinking by doing” and critical reflection through material practices and bring together designers, data visualization researchers, information scientists, civic technologists, public policy makers, government professionals, journalists, community and advocacy groups and NGOs.

Wed, Nov 14, 4:30-6:00

West Village H, Lobby

2017-2018 Dean’s Research Fellows: Data Storytelling Team

Naturalizing Immigration (Exhibition and Reception)

Pedro Cruz, Art+Design

Sarah Jackson, Comm Studies

Brooke Foucault Welles, Comm Studies

John Wihbey, Journalism

Thu, Nov 15, 3:00-4:00

102 West Village G

Spatial Storytelling in Urban Studies and History – Guest Lecturer Nil Tuzcu

Co-sponsored with NULab, NUVis, and the Digital Scholarship Group

Thu, Nov 29, 10:00-11:30

CAMD Interdisciplinary Lab, 171 Holmes

Exploring AR/VR for CAMD Curriculum and Research

Bobette Buster, Journalism

Miso Kim, Art+Design

Dani Snyder-Young, Theatre

David Tames, Art+Design

Co-Laboratory for Data Impact faculty and students presented their paper, “Newsroom Textual Analysis and Visualization Tools Built With R Shiny,” at the 2019 Computation + Journalism Symposium at the University of Miami on February 1, 2019.

Demo their apps here.

Thu, Feb 7, 4:00-6:00

RP 909

Chenjerai Kumanyika and Jack Hitt of the Uncivil Podcast

Co-sponsored with NULab

Pedro Cruz and John Wihbey join Data Stories, a podcast on data visualization with Enrico Bertini and Moritz Stefaner, to talk about how they use the metaphor of tree rings to show how migration patterns of people to the United States have changed over time.

Cruz and Wihbey talk about how they came up with the idea, the implementation of the visualization, the attempts they tried before producing the final version, and the role of metaphors in visualization.

Links mentioned on the episode:

Thu, Mar 28, 12:00-1:00

CAMD Interdisciplinary Lab, 171 Holmes

Brown Bag with 2018-2019 Dean’s Fellows Data Storytelling Team

Traces and Evidence: The Materiality of Public Controversies

Jennifer Gradecki, Art+Design

Meg Heckman, Journalism

Ang Li, Architecture

Dietmar Offenhuber, Art+Design

Cruz, P., Wihbey, J., Ghael, A., Costa, S., Chao, R., and Shibuya, F. 2018. “Process of simulating tree rings for immigration in the U.S.” In IEEE VIS Arts Program Annotated Projects. Berlin, Germany. [download]


Cruz, P., Wihbey, J. 2018. “200 Years of U.S. Immigration Looks Like the Rings of a Tree.” National Geographic. [online]


Howe, J., Bajak, A., Kraft, D., and Wihbey, J. 2017. “Collaborative, Open, Mobile: A Thematic Exploration of Best Practices at the Forefront of Digital Journalism.” Storybench. [working paper, download]


Wihbey, J., Beaudet, M., and Cruz, P. 2017. “There are huge holes in how the U.S. states investigate politicians’ conflicts of interest.” Washington Post/Monkey Cage. [online]


De la Torre-Arenas, I. and Cruz, P. 2017. “A taxonomy of motion applications in data visualization.” In Proceedings of Expressive’17 – The joint symposium on Computational Aesthetics and Sketch Based Interfaces and Modeling and Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering, Los Angeles, article 7. [ACM]


Wihbey, J. and Beaudet, M. 2017. “State-level Policies for Personal Financial Disclosure: Exploring the Potential for Public Knowledge on Conflict-of-Interest Issues.” In Proceedings of Law & Policy Division, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference. [AEJMC]


Offenhuber, D.. 2017. Waste Is Information — Infrastructure Legibility and Governance. Cambridge: MIT Press [link]


Offenhuber, D. 2017. “Maps of Daesh – the Cartographic Warfare Surrounding Insurgent Statehood.” GeoHumanities. [pdf][link]


Sam, A. and Offenhuber, D. 2017. “Auditive Space – Its Limitations and Its Materiality.” GAM. Architecture Magazine, no. 13. [pdf]


Offenhuber, D. 2017. “Sticky data – context and friction in the use of urban data proxies.” In Data and the City. ed. Rob Kitchin, Tracey P. Lauriault, and Gavin McArdlel. New York: Routledge. [pdf]


Wihbey, J. and Beaudet, M. 2016. “Transparency, Corruption, and the Information Needs of Communities: The Case of Personal Financial Disclosure”. Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 278-2016. [SSRN]


Offenhuber, D. 2016. “Urban Entropy.” In What Urban Media Art Can Do: Why When Where and How?, edited by Susa Pop, Tanya Toft, Nerea Calvillo, and Mark Wright. S.l.: Av Edition Gmbh.


Offenhuber, D. 2016. “The Transactionalization of Infrastructure as a Case for Accountability-Oriented Design”. Design and the City Conference, Amsterdam. [pdf]