Leila De Floriani, Catherine Plaisant and Bongshin Lee Inducted into IEEE Visualization Academy

(From left) Leila De Floriani, Catherine Plaisant and Bongshin Lee were recently inducted into the IEEE Visualization Academy.
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Three researchers with ties to the Department of Computer Science were recently inducted into the IEEE Visualization Academy, considered one of the highest and most prestigious honors in the field of computer visualization.

Leila De Floriani, a professor of geographical sciences with an appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), Catherine Plaisant, a senior research scientist in UMIACS, and Bongshin Lee, a senior principal researcher at Microsoft Research, joined 12 other researchers from around the world named to the 2020 cohort of academy members.

De Floriani has an affiliate appointment in the department; Plaisant regularly interacts with UMD computer science faculty and students in her role as associate director of research in the Human Computer Interaction Lab; and Lee is a distinguished alumna, graduating from UMD with a master’s degree in computer science in 2002 and completing her Ph.D. here in 2006.

Launched last year by the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee, the “Vis Academy” as it’s often called, acknowledges research leaders in visualization that indirectly underscore the accomplishments of the entire field.

“The Visualization Academy inductees are considered the cream of the crop in the visualization field and they are destined to continue to make significant impact on the field through their leadership, the mentoring and nurturing of new talent, and other community services,” says Arie Kaufman, a distinguished professor of computer science at Stony Brook University who chaired the academy’s selection committee.

De Floriani, Plaisant and Lee were officially inducted into the academy at the IEEE VIS2020 conference, held in October using an online-only format due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Plaisant was additionally honored with the IEEE Visualization Career Award at this year’s conference, given to one individual annually who has made significant contributions to the field through their research.

She has published more than 140 papers, mostly in leading journals and conferences, on diverse subjects such as information visualization, digital libraries, universal access, image browsing, help, digital humanities, technology for families, or evaluation methodologies.

 De Floriani, a noted expert in geometric modeling and scientific visualization, has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications in data visualization, geospatial data representation and processing, computer graphics, geometric modeling, and shape analysis and understanding. 

She is currently serving as president of the IEEE Computing Society, a role in which she provides leadership and direction to the organization’s officers and programs that serve more than 60,000 scientists worldwide.

At Microsoft Research, Lee is currently exploring innovative ways for people to create visualizations, interact with data, and share data-driven stories. She also focuses on helping people collect and explore the data about themselves, and share meaningful insights with others by leveraging visualizations.

She has served as general co-chair for ISS 2019 and IEEE PacificVis 2017, as associate editor for IEEE TVCG, and as the papers co-chair for IEEE InfoVis 2015 and 2016, and IEEE PacificVis 2018.

“We are thrilled that Leila, Catherine and Bongshin are being recognized by their peers for the outstanding work they have accomplished,” says Amitabh Varshney, professor and dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. “Their research and scholarship in computer visualization will continue to have a significant impact for years to come.”

Varshney, along with Ben Shneiderman, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of computer science, was inducted into the inaugural cohort of the Vis Academy in 2019.

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