Visual communication assignment

Vitruvian rat by Phil Disley
Visual representation of an epistemological strategy: the use of model organisms (Phil Disley’s illustration for JAB’s Nov. 2012 paper in Nature)

Your assignment is to design a visual representation of some aspect of your own research. If you like, you can use this opportunity to work on your outreach project, where visual representations are likely to be quite important. If you’re still in the early stages of your research, you could focus on an aspect of the scientific context or background.

This is a chance to develop a resource for yourself that you’ll use in many ways: you might use one version for your web page, another in your outreach project, a third for a conference poster, a fourth in a job talk, yet another for a class lecture or a guest seminar…so choose a subject that’s central to your work, and take the opportunity to develop an image that will be of lasting value in explaining what you do.

Part 1, warm-up. Find two visual representations of some scientific concept, data, or process – from any public source (web, figure from a paper, etc.). Try to find one you think is good, and one that isn’t.  Analyze their strengths and weaknesses, especially with respect to the context in which they appear. Can you suggest modifications/improvements?  (For key principles and before-and-after examples, check out Visual Strategies by our guest speakers Felice Frankel and Angela DePace; it’s on reserve in Dimond.) Post on your blog the two images, and your analysis.

Part 2, the real thing. Design a visual representation of some aspect of your own work.  This could be for a slide in a seminar talk, a figure in a paper, a web page, or some other purpose. (Part 1 should help you think about what the differences might be, depending on what venue you choose.)  Work up a preliminary version of your image/representation to post on your blog by Monday 4/1; include comments, questions, or challenges you’ve come across. 

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