Imaging + Visualization

Using art + design to convey scientific research + data

While students continue to make use of our natural history collections for drawing, painting and researching various aspects of design in nature, our micro-imaging and Geographic Information Systems facilities offer opportunities for advanced visualization of features and landforms at multiple scales. Moreover, these visual resources provide a gateway to the sciences for RISD students. Through computer modeling, graphic design and film, artists and designers are increasingly partnering with scientists to more effectively communicate new discoveries and connect with the public.

RI C-AIM Vis-a-Thon

Vis-a-Thon is a program designed to reimagine visualization as an evolving process of inquiry, indivisible from research itself. The program provides opportunities for participants to collaboratively experiment with new and innovative ways to create and use visual imagery and language. Led by Georgia Rhodes and Stewart Copeland, the Vis-a-Thon invites scientists from the RI C-AIM consortium to collaborate with RISD faculty and staff to critique traditional models of scientific communication and gain insight on individual research concerning visualization processes and outcomes.

STAC Grant

A $60,000 grant from STAC (Rhode Island’s Science and Technology Advisory Council) is allowing artists and designers working at RISD’s Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab to develop a 3D visualization platform that will help the general public understand bay dynamics and anthropogenic impacts on the estuary. The new tool will be applied widely, promoting communication among Rhode Island scientists and improving the visibility and coherence of the diverse work being conducted in the Narragansett Bay.

SURF Projects

The Nature Lab has hosted Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) for the past three years. Projects have revolved around imaging microscopic marine plankton from Narragansett Bay, with a focus on creating compelling visual narratives that engage multiple audiences and stakeholders on issues of marine conservation. These ten-week, RI NSF EPSCoR-funded internships involved extensive field collection and the development of original imaging and presentation techniques shared at scientific poster sessions.

Watch a related video here

Data Narratives Studio

Recent studios facilitated by the Nature Lab and funded by RI NSF EPSCoR and the RI Science and Technology Advisory Council explored “data narratives” as a bridge between scientific and artistic inquiry. A data narrative offers a storytelling basis for understanding research. It may incorporate varying levels of scientific detail and visualizations of data, but, most importantly, it connects the aesthetic and emotional experience of the audience with the message. This approach allows for the subjective presentation and interpretation of objective scientific data. These narratives may communicate complex science that otherwise often fails to reach the public. Data narratives can translate findings and their consequences into a message that a wider audience can understand and relate to their own lives and value systems.

Watch a video about it here

Design Science

Inspired by the vision of R. Buckminster Fuller, the Biennial Design Science Symposium co-hosted by the Nature Lab and the Synergetics Collaborative is an interactive meeting of makers, thinkers, practitioners, and educators who strive to keep the type of work in which Fuller was engaged current, relevant, and applied. Fuller’s design approach as ‘comprehensive anticipatory design science’ combined an emphasis on individual initiative and integrity with whole systems thinking, scientific rigor and faithful reliance on nature’s underlying principles, all of which we believe are critically important elements of contemporary design.

2019's 6th Biennial Design Science Symposium centered around Inclusive Narratives from Nature. To learn more:

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The RISD Nature Lab is an EPSCoR|C-AIM Core Research Facility supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #OIA-1655221 and EAGER Grant Award #1723559. ​​​Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this site are those of the Nature Lab and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.​

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