As scientists we read thousands of papers and listen to hundreds of presentations seeking new information to stay up to date in our field of research. In general, very few presentations or publications truly stand out as visually stunning. Indeed, as a student and postdoc, I often lost interest because the data was poorly presented. This is surprising to me since a great number of scientists are very visually oriented. I have focused in my work on designing scientific illustrations that are pleasing to the eye of the audience and are simple to interpret. Given the ever-increasing number of publications and sources of information it seems to me that strategies to catch and keep the attention of the scientific reader are crucial for success.
My goal is to design graphs, schematics and model figures for scientists to support their data in such a way that they make their research stand out from the sea of papers, grants, posters and book chapters.
Eye-catching graphical abstracts, cover designs and model figures are the first step to getting the audience’ attention. To create such visuals I taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop at an advanced level. For example, features such as shading and lighting can leverage the natural way our vision uses 3D information to transform 2D stick figure designs into easily interpretable, compelling models. While overly colorful figures with 3D effects can be confusing, they facilitate and improve the understanding of the underlying scientific concept when used correctly.
After attracting the audience, it is even more important to keep them excited and interested in the data with self-explanatory graphs and well designed figures.
During my postdoctoral research I worked with complex multi-dimensional data. I mastered R, a software environment for statistical computing and graphics, and statistical modeling to extract the relevant information from large datasets and present it in attractive and easily interpretable illustrations.
With my expertise in data analysis and visualization I can design model figures, graphs and scientific art based on as little input as the underlying data or I can design illustrations tailored to specific instructions and desires.
I believe that illustrations should be stunning and immediately attract the eye of the audience, as accurate as possible in conveying the underlying data, and simple enough to make the visualization self-explanatory. At the end, the audience should walk away with a clear scientific take-home message firmly imprinted in their memory by beautiful graphs and models.