I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and direct the UNC/CU VisuaLab. Prior to joining UNC, I was 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. 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-to-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

Find me at:

 News & Updates

9.2021: Szafir will serve as a General Chair for IEEE VIS 2022 in Oklahoma City, OK.

7.2021: Hong, Witt (CSU), & Szafir's "The Weighted Average Illusion: Biases in Perceived Mean Position in Scatterplots" accepted to IEEE VIS 2021.

7.2021: Hall (Temple) et al.'s "Professional Differences: A Comparative Study of Visualization Task Performance and Spatial Ability Across Disciplines" accepted to IEEE VIS 2021.

7.2021: Szafir started a new position at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

4.2021: Ahmed & Szafir received an NSF CAREER Award for constructing perceptual models of visualization use to drive informal evaluation.

3.2021: Ahmed & Szafir received a $1.1M grant from the U.S. Air Force to explore mixed initiative analytics in remote sensing.

3.2021: Wu et al.'s work on visualization accesssibility received a Best Paper Award at CHI.

3.2021: Payne et al.'s work on computation and dance received a Best Paper Honorable Mention at CHI.

12.2020: Szafir, Samsel, Zeller, & Saltus' "Enabling Crosscutting Visualization for Geoscience" was accepted to CG&A.

12.2020: Payne (NYU), Bergner (NYU), West, Charp, Shapiro, Szafir, Taylor, & Desportes' (NYU) "danceON: Culturally Responsive Creative Computing for Data Literacy" was conditionally accepted to CHI 2021.

12.2020: Wu, Petersen, Ahmad, Burlinson, Tanis, & Szafir's "Understanding Data Accessibility for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" was conditionally accepted to CHI 2021.

12.2020: "Grand Challenges in Immersive Analytics", work from a large joint collaboration including Whitlock & Szafir, was conditionally accepted to CHI 2021.

 Upcoming Travel

10.24-10.29: IEEE VIS

11.5: Stanford HCI Colloquium