Advances in measurement devices in the last decade have given rise to an explosion of scientific data, data which holds the promise of curing human disease, predicting the future health of our planet, and unlocking the secrets of the universe. In biology, access to massive amounts of quantitative data has fundamentally changed how discoveries are made, and now an important component of the scientific process is making sense of this data using visualization methods. For most biologists, however, their visualization toolbox is made up of only broadly-available tools that were designed for over-arching problems, often leaving them without answers to their specific research questions.
A growing trend in the information visualization community is to develop tools that focus on specific, real-world problems. Called a design study, the process of developing these tools relies on a close collaboration with end-users as well as the use of methods from design. In this talk I’ll present several design studies that target complex, biological data analysis, from discovering trends in molecular networks to understanding the results of genomic sequence assembly algorithms.