Meet the Experts - Part 3

Sally Stevens

Jon Blower

Chief Technology Officer, Institute for Environmental Analytics

Q1: Tell us a bit about yourself

I studied as a geologist originally, specialising in volcanology in my PhD. I got interested in programming and worked as a software engineer for a while before joining the University of Reading in 2003. Since then I’ve worked on a wide range of projects that fall at the intersection between scientific research, IT and industry.

Q2: Tell us about the section of the Data Tree course that you have developed

The visualisation module will give students an overview of some of the things they should be thinking about when visualising their data. We’ll tease out some of the different purposes for visualisation, and why these lead to different approaches. We’ll see some examples of good practice that should help students make sensible decisions about common issues such as colour, map projections and visualising uncertain data. To help people get started, we’ll recommend some particular tools and websites where they can find out more.

Q3: Why is your section of Data Tree important for PhDs and ECRs?

Very few University courses at undergraduate or postgraduate level offer any training in data visualisation. We want to help people to understand the main issues and get into good habits at an early stage of their careers. The good news is that there are so many great tools and examples out there to help, and we want to point people in the right direction. There are often no right or wrong answers; the important thing is to learn to think critically about data visualisation and treat it as a key part of the whole scientific process.

Q4: What’s your top tip for PhD students and ECRs starting out in their careers?

Try to take lots of opportunities to practise your communication skills with a variety of audiences, both in writing and orally. The ability to communicate clearly can make a huge difference to your career, whether in academia or outside.

Q5: If you weren’t a Data Visualisation Expert what would you be?

I hope that in a parallel universe, some version of me has enough talent to become a professional musician. Preferably a guitarist, but I’m not fussy.

Find out more about Jon and his experience here:

Twitter: @Jon_Blower

LinkedIn: jon-blower-84303b2b

Last modified: Friday, 27 April 2018, 11:58 AM