Leo Zhicheng Liu Recognized with NSF CAREER Award for Data Visualization Research

Liu's work explores new abstractions, techniques and tools to democratize the creation of interactive data visualizations
Descriptive image for Leo Zhicheng Liu Recognized with NSF CAREER Award for Data Visualization Research

Leo Zhicheng Liu, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, has been honored with a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Liu received the award for his research proposal titled "Manipulable Semantic Components in Data Visualization Design."

In an era when data visualizations have become ubiquitous and serve as powerful tools for data analysis and storytelling, Liu's work explores new ways to enable a broad range of users to create expressive data visualizations. The NSF recognition further solidifies his standing as a promising faculty member, joining a select group of individuals striving to advance the boundaries of data visualization research and its applications.

“I am incredibly honored to receive this CAREER Award from the NSF,” Liu said. “It recognizes the potential impact and quality of my work and sets the foundation for a long-term research career.”

The five-year, $599,500 award will focus on identifying fundamental building blocks of interactive data visualizations that are easy to comprehend and assemble. Additionally, Liu will develop computational tools to construct and analyze visualizations using these key components.

With a strong emphasis on human-centered techniques and systems, Liu enjoys working on real-world projects that have visible impacts.

“I enjoy working with real-world users and then making their work easier. I think that's a huge inspiration for me,” Liu shared. “On the intellectual level, I think human-data interaction is fascinating because it is interdisciplinary. Of course, you need to bring elements from computer science like data processing and graphics, but also you need to consider many other factors from other areas like cognitive science, psychology and graphic design. Unifying all these to create something novel will always motivate me moving forward.”

The NSF CAREER Award will enable Liu to continue his research, develop cutting-edge tools and collaborate with other experts.

"We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Liu for this well-deserved recognition. His dedication to advancing data visualization techniques and expertise in human-data interaction is truly inspiring," said Department Chair Matthias Zwicker, who holds the Elizabeth Iribe Chair for Innovation and the Phillip H. and Catherine C. Horvitz Professorship. "We take great pride in having Dr. Liu as part of our department and eagerly anticipate the remarkable contributions he will make through his NSF-funded research."

—Story by Samuel Malede Zewdu, CS Communications 

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