I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and a Fellow in ATLAS Institute and the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado Boulder and direct the CU VisuaLab. I also hold an appointment in the Department of Information Science. My research sits at the intersection of information visualization, data science, computer graphics, and cognitive science.

Along with a team of fantastic students and collaborators, I look at the relationship between cognition and visualization design—how does visualization design enable people to better understand and engage with data? How can visualization support accurate analysis in the face of increasingly large datasets? How might visualization systems provide more accurate insights? How can visualizations leverage immersive technologies to bridge spatial and temporal gaps in analysis? Through this process, I develop interactive visualization systems, guidelines, and techniques for exploring large, complex data. This work has inspired collaborations across a variety of domains including genomics, bioinformatics, the humanities, biochemistry, and perceptual psychology. More up-tod-date information about this work can be found on the VisuaLab website.

I received my Ph.D. in Computer Sciences as part of the Visual Computing Lab under Prof. Michael Gleicher. I completed my B.S. in Computer Science at the University of Washington in 2009 as a NASA Space Grant Scholar and my M.S. in Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011 as part of the joint UW-Department of Energy BACTER Institute. My broader research interests include graphics and visualization, human-computer interaction, color science, visual data mining, interactive machine learning, and perceptual science.

If you're interested in a project, please reach out to me. Always happy to chat!

Photo credit: Robert Kosara

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 News & Updates


08.2020: Work by Elliott (UBC), Xiong (Northwestern/UMass), Nothelfer (Nielson), & Szafir award a Best Paper Honorable Mention at IEEE VIS 2020.

08.2020: Do, Bae, Gyory, & Szafir received an NSF EAGER for work in using physicalization in informal education.

07.2020: Whitlock, Szafir, & Gruchalla's (NREL) "HydrogenAR: Interactive Data-Driven Storytelling for Dispenser Reliability" accepted to ISMAR 2020.

05.2020: Work by Smart, Wu, and Szafir featured in American Geophysical Union's Eos Science News.

02.2020: Whitlock et al.'s "Graphical Perception for Immersive Analytics" received a Best Paper Nomination at IEEE VR 2020. Congrats to Matt and the team!

03.2020: "A Survey of Data and Encodings in Word Clouds," collaborative work with Carleton College, accepted to DH 2020.

02.2020: Whitlock, Leithinger, Szafir, & Szafir's "Toward Effective Multimodal Interaction in Augmented Reality" accepted to the Immersive Analytics workshop at CHI 2020.

02.2020: Whitlock, Smart, & Szafir's "Graphical Perception for Immersive Analytics" accepted to IEEE VR 2020.

02.2020: Burlinson & Szafir's "Shape size judgments are influenced by fill and contour closure" accepted to VSS 2020.

01.2020: Whitlock et al.'s "MRCAT: In Situ Prototying of Interactive AR Environments" accepted to VAMR 2020.

 Upcoming Travel