Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Who doesn't love a good infographic about great white sharks?

As many of you know already, my classes at the University of Miami —both at the undergrad and MA/MFA levels— don't deal just with data, graphs, and maps, but also with traditional infographics, 3D, and animation. This means that —yes!— I teach my students some tricks to draw stuff in Adobe Illustrator. Even those without a background in art and design (the overwhelming majority) end up doing a pretty decent job at the end of the semester. Data visualization is trendy nowadays, but I strongly believe that some notions of classic, old-fashioned visual journalism and graphic design will always be valuable, regardless of the career you plan to pursue.

Anyway, in the past few days I've been grading the second project of my Infographics class this semester. We collaborated with the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at UM. A while ago, scientists from the program released a series of papers about hunting patterns of great white sharks in South African waters. My students read the papers and participated in a press conference with the leading researcher, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag. Our goal was to produce tabloid-size posters that summarized the findings without dumbing them down. Think about it this way: There's a lot of amazing research going on at UM right now; you're a scientist: How do you communicate with the public? Perhaps by partnering up with a student from the School of Communication.

I'm showcasing some of the graphics above. None of them is a full A —sorry, folks; I'm tough—, and they still need to be edited and corrected, but they are satisfactory overall. After all, as I've explained before, these students began learning about infographics just three months ago.