Data to Discovery

October 7, 2020

Data to Discovery: Experimental data visualization, art and design research at NASA/JPL, Caltech and Art Center was a Summer project co-lead with Maggie Hendrie. The national call for interns included MDP students Martin Bernard and Rachel Ulgado.

Each project begins in the fall and early winter, when we seek and establish new collaborations from science and engineering groups at JPL and Caltech. Meanwhile, we recruit an interdisciplinary team of student interns to work intensively on these projects for 10 weeks in the summer. Throughout the summer, the program advisors mentor interns in computing and co-designing interactive data visualization tools with our science and engineering collaborators, as well as developing critical and artistic perspectives of these practices.

To develop the visualization tools, students work closely with scientific or engineering researchers to understand their research and identify, design and develop relevant modes of visualizing their data. Through intensive discussions with researchers and exploration of the data in the first few weeks, the visualization team gains a relevant understanding of the science and engineering data. Thereafter, researchers and students meet weekly to discuss the data, the researchers’ scientific goals and needs and provide feedback on the relevance of design iterations to their research and data. Students also meet weekly with the visualization advisors to present work in progress, ask questions, and get feedback. At the end of the summer, researchers have operating bespoke visualization software prototypes to facilitate, enhance and optimize and accelerate scientific research.

In tandem, we are expanding our program to develop critical and artistic perspectives of the relationships between human perception and knowledge systems. These explorations are done independently and collaboratively in parallel with the development of the visualization tools.

We frequently continue collaborations beyond the summer when the projects show promise for expanding and digging deeper. See our “recognition” and “projects” pages for examples of how our projects have evolved.