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Meeting Details

Visualization in Science & Education
Gordon Research Conference

Revealing Nature, Generating Insight


July 26-31, 2009


Magdalen College
Oxford, United Kingdom


Arthur J. Olson & Shaaron Ainsworth

Vice Chairs:
Elizabeth M. Dorland & Ghislain Deslongchamps

Meeting Description

In 2009, in order to emphasize and integrate the multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches to Visualization in Science and Education, the conference will be organized into daylong themes. Each theme will be examined from the perspectives of physical scientists, cognitive scientists and psychologists, and science educations. The themes are: Uncertainty & Ambiguity; Simplicity & Complexity; Creativity & Discovery; Dynamism & Interactivity; and Diversity & Multiplicity. For more information, please visit the Chairs' web site.

Uncertainty & Ambiguity

Scientific data are never exact, they contain errors or have limited accuracy; theories and hypotheses can be limited by uncertainty and ambiguity; and science evolves and is taught in a state of incomplete knowledge. Visualization transforms scientific data and hypotheses into a concrete form to aid understanding, promote exploration, and facilitate communication and learning. How can we visualize the uncertainty and error in the data we represent? How can we distinguish between what we know and what we don’t know in the images that we create? How do we present science so that what we visualize does not create a false sense of certainty, but reflects the state of our knowledge? The visualization of uncertainty and ambiguity is an evolving area of exploration in fields as disparate as computer graphics, information visualization, and scientific illustration. This session will explore various approaches to the problem.

Simplicity & Complexity

One of the most important roles that scientific visualizations must play is to make complex and multifaceted information accessible by simplifying it in some way. This leads to advances in computer science as Cyberinfrastructure researchers investigate news way to harness these technologies which then in turn lead to advances in scientific understanding. Visualizations have a fundamental role to play in helping us understand the complexity of phenomena we are trying to study (such as David Goodsell’s work on molecular complexity). But we also acknowledge the reverse side of the coin – the benefits of simplicity – and so will explore how representations such as cartoons and simple drawings can have many benefits for scientists, learners and the general public alike. Finally, we also explore the costs and benefits of simplicity and complexity by examining such issues how whether perceptual fidelity or abstraction is better for learners.

Creativity & Discovery

The important roles that visualizations play in scientific discovery, scientific communication, and expertise is well known. In this theme we will explore what we can learn from how great scientists invented and used visualisations (such as Faraday or Feynman), how experts use visualisations to make discoveries about their disciplines (example e.g, the Tree of Life) and how learners can generate important insights into science by being encouraged to inventing their own representations (e.g. inventing to prepare for future learning by Martin and Schwartz)

Dynamism & Interactivity

Visualisations in computational media allows for degrees of interactivity and dynamism that are just not possible with paper-based representations. In this theme we will explore what benefits that this increased interactivity can bring for scientists and learners – for example, in the use of tangible interfaces, educational games and simulations. However, we will resist “technoboosterism” by acknowledging that this interactivity can have unwanted consequences. In exploring dynamic representations, we first investigate the many different ways there are to represent time and what implications this has for scientists, learners and the general public. We also explore the prototypical case of using time to represent time (animation) and examine the cognitive consequences of animation.

Diversity & Multiplicity

In this day long theme, we explore many different issues around the topics of diversity and multiplicity. We explore the perspective of multimodality - how scientific phenomena are typically presented using multiple representations. We also explore how multiple devices are now used for science visualisations, focussing in particular upon handheld and personal devices. This links to the final theme of informal learning and public understanding as we explore how visualisations are used in public understanding and outreach, and indeed what role that personal technologies can play in supporting this.

Meeting Program

4:00 pm - 8:00 pmArrival and Check-in (Office Closed 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm)
5:30 pmWelcome Reception on the Cloisters Lawn
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmWelcome / Introductory Comments by GRC Site Staff
7:40 pm - 9:30 pm Uncertainty and Ambiguity
Discussion Leader: Ghislain Deslongchamps (University of New Brunswick, CA)
7:40 pm - 8:20 pmLeland Wilkinson (Systat Software Inc., Northwestern University, USA)
"Reducing False Discoveries in Visualization under Uncertainty"
8:20 pm - 8:35 pm Discussion
8:35 pm - 9:15 pmAlex Pang (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)
"Challenges of Uncertainty Visualization"
9:15 pm - 9:30 pm Discussion
8:00 am - 9:00 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pm Creativity and Discovery
Discussion Leader: Lena Tibell (Linköpings University, SE)
9:00 am - 9:40 amAlyssa Goodman (Harvard University, USA)
"From Baby Pictures to Baby Stars: What Scientists /Can/ See"
9:40 am - 10:00 am Discussion
10:00 am Coffee Break / Group Photo
10:30 am - 11:10 amKaty Borner (Indiana University, USA)
"Envisioning and Communicating Science"
11:10 am - 11:30 am Discussion
11:30 am - 12:10 pmBen Shneiderman (University of Maryland, USA)
"How Visualization Supports Discovery"
12:10 pm - 12:30 pm Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm Creativity and Discovery 2
Discussion Leader: Mike Stieff (University of Maryland, USA)
7:30 pm - 8:10 pmFelice Frankel (Harvard University, USA)
"More Than Pretty Pictures: Clarifying Scientific Concepts When Creating Visual Explanations"
8:10 pm - 8:30 pm Discussion
8:30 pm - 9:10 pmStuart Card (Palo Alto Research Center and Stanford University, USA)
"Visualization and Sensemaking"
9:10 pm - 9:30 pm Discussion
8:00 am - 9:00 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pm Dynamism and Interactivity
Discussion Leader: Peter Mahaffy (The King’s University College, CA)
9:00 am - 9:40 amDrew Berry (The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, AU)
"Finding the Middle Ground Between Scientific Accuracy and Reaching a Wide Public Audience"
9:40 am - 10:00 am Discussion
10:00 am Coffee Break
10:30 am - 11:10 amColin Ware (University of New Hampshire, USA)
"Space, Time, Whales, and Simple Cognitive Models: Why we Turn Time into Space for Data Analysis"
11:10 am - 11:30 am Discussion
11:30 am - 12:10 pmKatharina Scheiter (University of Tübingen, DE)
"Adaptive Design of Visualizations for Supporting the Comprehension of Complex Dynamics in the Natural Sciences"
12:10 pm - 12:30 pm Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm From Seed to Fruit: Multidisciplinary Collaborations from the Gordon Visualization Conferences
Discussion Leader: Chris Watters (Middlebury College, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:45 pmPeter Mahaffy (Kings University College, CA)
"Changing Climate, Changing Understanding: A Role for Visualization"
7:45 pm - 8:00 pmMary Shultz (Tufts University, USA)
"Understanding the Unobservable - Multi-Method Approaches to Visualization Research"
8:00 pm - 8:15 pmRobert Hanson (St. Olaf’s College, USA)
"Using Quaternions to Visualize the Secondary Structure of Proteins and Nucleic Acids"
8:15 pm - 8:30 pm Combined Discussion
8:30 pm Break
8:45 pm - 9:30 pm Panel Discussion - Using Visionary Grants To Instigate Collaborative Visualization Research
8:45 pm - 8:50 pmBrian White (University of MA/Boston, USA)
8:50 pm - 8:55 pmBarbara Tversky (Columbia Teachers College, USA)
8:55 pm - 9:00 pmBrian Martin (Kings University College, CA)
9:00 pm - 9:05 pmBarbara Gonzalez (University of California/Fullerton, USA)
9:05 pm - 9:30 pm Combined Discussion
8:00 am - 9:00 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pm Complexity and Simplicity
Discussion Leader: Pat Hanrahan (Stanford University, USA)
9:00 am - 9:40 amRob Goldstone (Indiana University, USA)
"Promoting a (Perceptually) Well-grounded Education"
9:40 am - 10:00 am Discussion
10:00 am Coffee Break
10:30 am - 11:10 amManeesh Agrawala (University of California/Berkeley, USA)
"Design Principles for Visual Communication"
11:10 am - 11:30 am Discussion
11:30 am - 12:10 pmBarbara Tversky (Columbia University, USA)
"Creating Effective Visual Explanations: Clues from Comics and Cognitive Science"
12:10 pm - 12:30 pm Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
7:00 pm - 7:30 pmBusiness Meeting
(Nominations for the next Vice Chair; Fill out Conference Evaluation Forms; Discuss future Site & Scheduling preferences; Election of the next Vice Chair)
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm Complexity Panel: How to make complex things simple!
Discussion Leader: Peter Atkins (Oxford University, UK, Emeritus)
7:30 pm - 7:55 pmDavid Goodsell (The Scripps Research Institute, USA)
"Simplifying Complex Molecular Subjects: How Much is Too Much?"
7:55 pm - 8:00 pm Discussion
8:00 pm - 8:25 pmBrian White (U. Mass, Boston, USA)
"Teaching Protein Structure: 3-d Visualization vs. 2-d Simulation"
8:25 pm - 8:30 pm Discussion
8:30 pm - 8:55 pmAndrew Hanson (Indiana University, USA)
"The Challenge of Distinguishing Complexity from Art"
8:55 pm - 9:00 pm Discussion
9:00 pm - 9:30 pm Combined Discussion
8:00 am - 9:00 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pm Multiplicity and Diversity
Discussion Leader: David Geelan (University of Queensland, AU)
9:00 am - 9:40 amTom Moher (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)
"Ours, Always, Here, Now, and All Around: Designing Technologies for Classrooms and the Kids That Live Inside of Them"
9:40 am - 10:00 am Discussion
10:00 am Coffee Break
10:30 am - 11:10 amYvonne Rogers (Open University, UK)
"How is learning transformed by being mobile?"
11:10 am - 11:30 am Discussion
11:30 am - 12:10 pmZafra Lerman (Columbia College, Chicago, USA)
"Visualization: The Key to the Future of Learning"
12:10 pm - 12:30 pm Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 5:30 pmPoster Session
5:30 pmReception on the Cloisters Lawn
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm Multiplicity and Diversity II
Discussion Leader: Liz Dorland (Washington University, St. Louis, USA)
7:30 pm - 8:10 pmNora Newcombe (Temple University, USA)
"Educating Spatial Intelligence: The Right Questions, and Some Answers"
8:10 pm - 8:30 pm Discussion
8:30 pm - 9:10 pmSteve Uzzo (New York Hall of Science, USA)
"The Seen and the Unseen: from Scientific Visualization to Data Visualization and its Impact on the Understanding of Science"
9:10 pm - 9:30 pm Discussion
8:00 am - 9:00 amBreakfast
9:00 amDeparture
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