Coffee Hour: Helping people see and understand spatial data

Friday, April 8, 2016 - 2:45pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.

Tableau Software

About the talk

Don’t let bad things happen to your good data. When used correctly, visualizations of data can improve the decision-making process. However, even good data scientists can struggle with “doing the right thing” in creating appropriate and useful visualizations. Success is a visualization where the reader can focus on the meaning in the data, and not have to spend time wondering about the meaning of, or being misled by, a crazy mess of symbols and colors. Success is also marked by truth and accuracy in the visualization; even when it is easy to make a coherent and useful-looking visualization, there isn’t a guarantee that the analyses or data processing that created the visualization were appropriate or correct. In this talk I will explore several ongoing research projects at Tableau to help people see and understand their spatial data to (hopefully) minimize issues in creating successful, useful, and accurate maps.

About the speaker

Sarah BattersbySarah Battersby is a senior research scientist at Tableau Software. Her primary area of focus is cartography, and her work emphasizes how we can help people visualize and use spatial information more effectively. Her research has covered a variety of areas, including perception of dynamic map displays, geospatial technologies and spatial thinking abilities, and the impact of map projection on spatial cognition. Sarah earned her Ph.D. in geography in 2006 from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is a member of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee, and is currently President (2015–2016) of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS).        

Contact us

Penn State encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Angela Rogers in advance of your participation or visit.

Angela Rogers   office: 814-863-4562  email:

Coffee Hour