The University of Colorado Boulder's VisuaLab is an interdisciplinary research laboratory headed by Dr. Danielle Albers Szafir. Situated within the ATLAS Institute and Department of Computer Science, the VisuaLab explores the intersection of data science, visual cognition, and computer graphics. Our goal is to understand how people make sense of visual information to create better interfaces for exploring and understanding information. We work with scholars from psychology to biology to the humanities to design and implement visualization systems that help drive innovation. Our ultimate mission is to facilitate the dialog between people and technologies that leads to discovery.

Our research centers on four major thrusts:

Cognition & Visualization: What do people see when they look at a visualization? How does that information translate to insight and knowledge? We conduct empirical studies to model the perceptual and cognitive processes involved in data interpretation to create more scalable and effective visualizations.

Building Better Visualizations: How can visualizations best help people make sense of data? How can we facilitate more effective visualization design? We use insight from empirical studies and user-centered design to create novel systems for designing visualization tools and for novel insight into data across a broad variety of domains.

Systems for Human-Machine Collaboration: How might people and machine learning algorithms work collaboratively to explore data? How might systems provide a dynamic bridge between ML's scalability and human expertise? We study how visualization can facilitate transparent insight into machine learning and build systems to leverage these techniques to support collaborative analysis and decision making.

Novel Interfaces for Data: How might designers best leverage new interface technologies to explore data? What new insights and opportunities do these technologies afford? We design novel visualization systems for mobile and mixed reality devices to integrate data and decision making into the real world.

See our Projects page for details and links to past and on-going projects.

We are always open to new researchers and new collaborations. Join a diverse cohort of students as part of an interdisciplinary community ranked in the top ten for HCI research. For more information about the available projects, see our listing of open positions or contact Dr. Szafir directly.


News from the Lab:

05.2020: Work by Smart, Wu, and Szafir featured in American Geophysical Union's Eos Science News.

02.2020: Whitlock et al.'s "Graphical Perception for Immersive Analytics" received a Best Paper Nomination at IEEE VR 2020. Congrats to Matt and the team!

03.2020: "A Survey of Data and Encodings in Word Clouds," collaborative work with Carleton College, accepted to DH 2020.

02.2020: Whitlock, Leithinger, Szafir, & Szafir's "Toward Effective Multimodal Interaction in Augmented Reality" accepted to the Immersive Analytics workshop at CHI 2020.

02.2020: Whitlock, Smart, & Szafir's "Graphical Perception for Immersive Analytics" accepted to IEEE VR 2020.

02.2020: Burlinson & Szafir's "Shape size judgments are influenced by fill and contour closure" accepted to VSS 2020.

01.2020: Whitlock et al.'s "MRCAT: In Situ Prototying of Interactive AR Environments" accepted to VAMR 2020.

10.2019: Our lab will be presenting four papers and organizing a workshop at IEEE VIS. Come say hi!

08.2019: Wu, Tanis (Coleman Institute), & Szafir's paper "Designing Communicative Visualization for People with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities" accepted to VisComm at IEEE VIS 2019.

08.2019: Muthukrishnan, & Szafir's paper "Using Machine Learning and Visualization for Qualitative Inductive Analyses of Big Data" accepted to Machine Learning User Interfaces at IEEE VIS 2019.

06.2019: Whitlock, Wu, & Szafir's paper "Designing for Mobile and Immersive Visual Analytics in the Field" accepted to IEEE VIS 2019.