Principles, Tools, and Storytelling

Design: Benedetta Frida Baldi

Tuesday, 27 March 2018, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Kimpton Marlowe Hotel, Massachusetts, USA

Do you work with large, complex datasets? Data Visualization can help. Using principles of human visual perception with modern methods and tools, you can create insightful visual representations of complex data, as well as compelling visualizations for communication.

However, there are few opportunities to receive training in these newly emerging visualization techniques. Thus, we are excited to announce the Data Visualization Masterclass, a one-day tour of state-of-the-art methods, taught by internationally acknowledged experts, and held in conjunction with VIZBI 2018, the 9th international meeting on Visualizing Biological Data.

The masterclass will teach you principles and practices for turning data into insightful visualizations that tell compelling stories. The class is for anyone working with data, including communicators, scientists, programmers, designers, and visual artists.

The key themes of the masterclass include:

  • Visual perception principles - dos and don'ts
  • Key data Visualization methods and tools - a practical guide
  • Using Visualization and animation for storytelling
It is recommended to bring your own laptop (no specific software required).


Kim Goodwin

Based in San Francisco, Kim Goodwin is a consultant with decades of experience in user research and design, leading teams of varying sizes, and teaching design & leadership skills. She led an integrated practice of interaction, visual, and industrial designers as VP & GM at Cooper for 12 years and served as VP of Product and User Experience at PatientsLikeMe, where she led a team focused on helping patients with serious diseases and involving them in medical research. She has published a best-selling book (Designing for the Digital Age), and speaks frequently about design techniques and design leadership at events around the world. Her work has spanned complex analytical and enterprise applications, phones, medical and consumer devices, services, aviation, retail, financial, and even organizations. Her clients and employers have included everything from one-man startups to the world’s largest companies, as well as universities and government agencies.

Drew Berry

Based in Melbourne (Australia), Drew Berry is a biologist-animator whose scientifically accurate and aesthetically rich visualizations reveal cellular and molecular processes for a wide range of audiences. Trained as a cell biologist and microscopist Drew brings a rigorous scientific approach to each project, immersing himself in relevant research to ensure current data are represented. Drew received B.Sc. (1993) and M.Sc. (1995) degrees from the University of Melbourne. Since 1995, he has been a biomedical animator at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. His animations have exhibited at venues such as the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, the Royal Institute of Great Britain and the University of Geneva. He has received many awards for his work, including an Emmy, a BAFTA, and the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. He collaborated with the musician Björk for the 2011 album Biophilia for which he directed the music video Hollow, which was also used in the Hollow app. In 2015 he created the Illuminarium: a six-storey revolving LED-light installation that comes to life at dusk and in the early morning hours with images and data from the frontier of medical research.

Seán O'Donoghue

Based in Sydney, Seán O’Donoghue is a Chief Research Scientist at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and also a Senior Faculty Member at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, where he leads a group focused on using data visualization to advance life science research. He is also a frequent keynote speaker and passionate advocate for improving the role of data visualization in research. Much of his career was spent in Heidelberg, Germany, where he worked both at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and at Lion Bioscience AG - then the world's largest bioinformatics company - where he was Director of Scientific Visualization. He has initiated and is leading several projects, including VIZBI, an international initiative aimed at improving data Visualization in the life sciences; VizbiPlus, aimed at educating and inspiring the general public about cutting-edge biomedical research. Seán holds a B. Sc. (Hons) and PhD from the University of Sydney; his work has been recognized with several international awards, most recently with a nomination to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Christian Stolte

Christian Stolte currently works as data visualization designer at the New York Genome Center (NYGC). He is a designer and developer dedicated to making complex scientific issues understandable. For ten years he has developed software user interfaces and designed data visualizations in a scientific research environment, first at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, then at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. His award-winning work was recognized as innovative and helpful to the research community. His novel visualization of insulin signaling resulted in new biological insights (Cell SnapShot). The web resources for which he acted as the design lead (Aquaria, TBDB, Compartments, Tissues) have been widely used by the community. Christian has been actively involved in the biological data visualization community by helping to organize the VIZBI conference series since 2011, conducting D3.js workshops, a masterclass on data visualization, and has been invited as a speaker to BioVis, Bio-IT-World, and VIZBI meetings. At NYGC, where he works in the Informatics Research Innovation group, he designed MetroNome, a visual exploration environment for genomic and clinical data. He contributed to many scientific publications.



8:15 – 9:00 a.m.


9:00 – 10:30am

► Vis principles, methods, and tools (Seán O'Donoghue)

  • Vis principles
  • Strategies for big data
  • Strategies for complex data
  • Data integration & tailored visualizations
  • Evaluating visualizations
  • Tools and resources

10:30 – 11:00am

Morning break (Coffee & tea provided)

11:00 – 12:30pm

► User experience design (Kim Goodwin)

  • Starting with specific users: knowledge, goals, context of use
  • Understanding data consumption as workflow
  • Scenarios: the ideal “conversation” between user and data
  • Storyboarding layout, interaction, and visual hierarchy with scenarios
  • Testing: did you get it right?

12:30 – 1:30pm

Lunch break (food is included in ticket)

1:30 – 3:00pm

► Graphic design (Christian Stolte)

  • Consider your audience
  • Know your goals
    • Explanation, exploration, or research?
    • Context
    • Narrative
    • Engagement
  • Develop your design
    • Elements
      • Lines and shapes
      • Typography
      • Space
    • Attributes
      • Color and value
      • Scale
    • Composition
      • Gestalt principles
      • Unity and balance
      • Rhythm
  • Design for interactivity
    • Content = interface
    • Additional control elements
  • Design strategies for big data

3:00 – 3:30pm

Afternoon break (Coffee & tea provided)

3:30 – 5:00pm


Kimpton Marlowe Hotel
25 Edwin H. Land Blvd, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02141, USA,




If you require a hotel while attending the Masterclass, we have negotiated a limited number of rooms at a substantially reduced rate for participants of $239 per night at Kimpton Marlowe Hotel. The hotel comes highly-recommended, and the Masterclass speakers will be staying at the Marlowe; thus, participants are encouraged to join us there. To take advantage of the reduced rate, click this link or contact Lauren Hendy at the Marlowe (; Telephone 617-395-2556).


VIZBI 2018

The Data Visualization Masterclass is being held in conjunction with VIZBI 2018, the 9th international meeting on Visualizing Biological Data, held in March 28–30 at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge MA, USA.

To register for VIZBI 2018, click here: REGISTRATION.