IEEE VIS, the world's largest conference on scientific visualization, information visualization, and visual analytics is now over, and Brown CS PhD candidate Johannes Novotny and his collaborators have returned with the Best Poster Award for their work ("Developing Virtual Reality Visualizations of Dinosaur Track Creation with Scientific Sketching") in using virtual reality (VR) to analyze dinosaur footprints. His co-authors include Brown CS Master's alum Joshua Tveite, Brown PhD candidate Morgan L. Turner, Professor Stephen Gatesy of Brown's Division of Biology and Medicine, Professor Fritz Drury of the Rhode Island School of Design, Lecturer Peter Falkingham of Liverpool John Moores University, and Brown CS Professor David H. Laidlaw.
"Large-scale simulations of substrate flow," the researchers explain, "have recently been used to explore the relationship between track morphology and foot movement using data from modern birds and fossilized specimens found in the field. However, the spatial complexity of these unsteady flow datasets make it difficult to analyze them using off-the-shelf visualization tools."
In response, Johannes and his co-authors conducted a two-year design study of developing VR flow visualization tools for the analysis of dinosaur track creation using the Scientific Sketching design methodology created by Brown CS PhD alum Daniel F. Keefe and his collaborators. They enlisted the aid of twenty-five art and computer science students from a VR design course who continually created visualizations in an iterative process guided by paleontologist collaborators through multiple critique sessions. This allowed them to explore a wide range of potential visualization methods and select the most promising methods for actual implementation, eventually resulting in visualizations that answered research questions and generated new insight into the simulation datasets.
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