Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative researcher Miriah Myer has been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for her proposal, “Design Decision Patterns for Visualizing Multivariate Graphs,” a series of visual data displays that involve more than one variable.

Meyer is an assistant professor of Computer Science within the School of Computing and a faculty member in the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute (SCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) and was previously named a 2013 TED Fellow and a PopTech Science Fellow for 2013.

The SCI Institute is an internationally recognized leader in visualization, scientific computing and image analysis. The research objective of the SCI Institute is to create new scientific computing techniques, tools and systems that enable solutions to important problems affecting various aspects of human life. The institute focuses on computational and imaging problems in disciplines such as biomedicine, geophysics, combustion, fluid dynamics and environmental science. 

Chris Johnson, director of SCI said, “The institute is very excited that Meyer joins Institute USTAR faculty Orly Alter, Tom Fletcher and Tolga Tasdizen receiving a very competitive NSF CAREER award.” 

Johnson added, “Her work in visualizing high-dimensional data is extremely exciting and yet another great example of the excellent research USTAR is enabling here at the SCI Institute.”

Meyer studies the design of visualization systems to assist scientists in making sense of complex data. The $400,000 award will support development of widely applicable techniques for visualizing and interacting with multivariate graphs, which involve many distinct random variables. Meyer said the project is grounded in several real-world problems: cancer biology, urban transportation and particle physics. By developing effective visualization methods for each of these problems, she will be able to explore new ways to visually represent multivariate graphs.

 “Often graphs have additional, interesting bits of associated data, such as attributes about people in a social network,” said Meyer. “Visualizing this complex data is challenging as there are just too many variables to show everything at once. This research will look at new, interactive methods for visualizing multivariate graphs in order to understand interesting trends with respect to both the connectedness of the data, as well as the additional attributes.”

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. 

“I am extremely grateful for this grant as it will allow me to pursue a new area of research, as well as establish new collaborations with faculty across campus,” Meyer said.