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Visualizing Our Uncertain World

We live in an uncertain world. From extreme weather events to pandemic forecasts, every day, we are confronted with uncertainty. Unfortunately, uncertainty is highly challenging for both the general public and trained experts to understand, which is why effectively conveying uncertainty in scientific findings is critical. Visualizations afford thinking with such complex data, as they capitalize on the visual system's highly advanced pattern recognition system to process vast data sets at once. This efficient processing is in stark contrast to the limitations of sequential reading required by sets of symbolic numbers. This talk will discuss state-of-the-art uncertainty visualization techniques and the cognitive processes that can lead to misunderstandings of data with uncertainty. We will discuss best practices in information visualization to support researchers' awareness of how visualization choices influence their audience's understanding of data, supporting informed and ethical decisions about conveying statistical results.


Speaker Bio

Dr. Lace Padilla is an Assistant Professor in the Cognitive and Information Sciences Department at the University of California Merced and was an NSF Postdoctoral Scholar at Northwestern University. Padilla and collaborators have received multiple grants from NSF and DOE to study uncertainty communication in the context of COVID-19, wildfire risk, and energy grids.  She received an Early Career Award from APA and a visionary award funded by NASA. In her spare time, she is a strong advocate for minoritized groups in STEM, served on the Governing Board of Spark Society and the IEEE VIS Inclusivity Committee.


The semester’s complete speaker series schedule can be found at:

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