The University of North Carolina's VisuaLab is an interdisciplinary research laboratory headed by Dr. Danielle Albers Szafir. Situated within the Department of Computer Science at UNC and also affiliated with the University of Colorado's ATLAS Institute, 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 five for visualization research. For more information about the available projects, see our listing of open positions or contact Dr. Szafir directly.

News from the Lab:

5.2024: One paper presented at EuroVis 2024

5.2024: Three posters presented at VSS 2024

5.2024: Three papers presented at ACM CHI 2024

4.2024: VisuaLab Postdoc Ghulam Quadri started an Assistant Professor position at OU. Best of luck, Ghulam!

4.2024: VisuaLab undergraduate Sophia Lin defended her Honors thesis on methods for outlier detection. Congrats, Sophia!

3.2024: "Revisiting Categorical Perception in Scatterplots" accepted to EuroVis 2024.

3.2024: Three papers accepted to ACM CHI 2024.

3.2024: "Beyond Visual Impairments: Redefining the Scope of Accessible Data" accepted to TVCG.

3.2024: "Assessing User Trust in Active Learning Systems" presented at IUI 2024.

2.2024: Grant from the State of the States project helps renew our lab's work on cognitively accessible visualization.

1.2024: Two papers accepted to AAAI SciTech Forum.