Vis4Good: Data Visualization in Community Service


Democracy relies on well-informed citizens, so you would be forgiven for thinking that today's information society would be ushering in a new era of rational thought and intelligent action. Unfortunately, the challenge is to enable people to actually make sense of these massive amounts of data for important decisions regarding their finances, health, children, family, and surrounding community. In line with a campus initiative to Do Good (, my research group at the University of Maryland is launching a new research effort focused on the use of Data Visualization for Good---Vis4Good---where we examine the transformative power of interactive visual representations to enable everyday users to view their personal datasets anytime, anywhere. I will talk about our past, current, and future work on visualization literacy, using data science in PK-12 education, large-scale crowdsourced data collection and analysis, and visual representations to encourage and support social navigation.


Short Biography

Niklas Elmqvist is an associate professor in the iSchool (College of Information Studies) at University of Maryland, College Park. He received his Ph.D. in computer science in 2006 from Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. Prior to joining University of Maryland, he was an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. Since 2016, he is the director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory (HCIL) at University of Maryland, one of the oldest and most well-known HCI research labs in the country. His research area is information visualization, human-computer interaction, and visual analytics. He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award as well as best paper awards from the IEEE Information Visualization conference, the ACM CHI conference, the International Journal of Virtual Reality, and the ASME IDETC/CIE conference. He is papers co-chair for IEEE InfoVis 2017, associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Visualization & Computer Graphics and the Information Visualization journal, and co-editor of the Morgan & Claypool Synthesis Lectures on Visualization. His research has been funded by both federal agencies such as NSF, NIH, and DHS as well as by companies such as Google, NVIDIA, and Microsoft. He is also the recipient of the Purdue Student Government Graduate Mentoring Award (2014), the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Teacher Award (2012), and the Purdue ECE Chicago Alumni New Faculty award (2010).