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This talk underscores the importance of design methods and practices in approaching challenges in the representation of big data. The talk will first reference debates regarding the role and nature of aesthetics and the importance of these to perception and insight, providing illustrations of different aesthetic approaches, at times to the same data set. It will further the discussion of insight by considering ways to work with users and data sets that draw from different practices within design. Fundamentally, design and designers need to be part of the visual analytics equation. 

About the Speaker:

Dr. Sara Diamond is the President of OCAD University, Canada's "university of the imagination". She holds a PhD in Computing, Information Technology and Engineering from the University of East London, a Masters in Digital Media theory from the University of Arts  London, and Honours Bachelors of Arts in History and Communications from Simon Fraser University. She is a data visualization, wearable technology and mobile media researcher, artist and designer. She developed, a social media software and performance and responsive fashion environment. Diamond is founding Chair of the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre and current co-chair (with RBC). She is co-principal investigator on the Centre for Information Visualization/Data Driven Design, an OCAD U/York University major initiative and sits on the board of the National Centre of Excellence GRAND and is the holder of funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

Distributed Research Seminars

The United States National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Plant Science Cyberinfrastructure Collaborative (PSCIC) program is intended to create a new type of organization – a cyberinfrastructure collaborative for the plant sciences - that enables new conceptual advances through integrative, computational thinking. To achieve this, the iPlant Collaborative was developed. iPlant is a 5 year project to develop and support cyberinfrastructure for the plant biology community. It is community-driven, involving plant biologists, computer and information scientists and engineers, and experts from other disciplines, all working in integrated teams.

The iPlant Collaborative brings together strengths in plant biology, bioinformatics, computational science and high performance computing, as well as innovative approaches to education, outreach, and the study of social networks. The cyberinfrastructure created by iPlant provides the community with two main capabilities: access to world-class physical cyberinfrastructure, and services that promote interactions, communications, and collaborations that advance the understanding and use of computational thinking in plant biology. In this talk we will review the major components of the iPlant cyberinfrastructure developed over the past 5 years, discuss several challenges faced in building the iPlant community, and highlight key challenges facing the project going forward.

Distributed Research Seminars

As the complexity in the needs of older adults continues to increase, so do the requirements from the technologies that we are designing. No longer can we take a unidimensional approach in the design approach that has often been used in the past, but research and development in this field requires input from a multitude of stakeholders, who must all play a greater role in our traditional design methodologies.

This talk will discuss how collaboration across different technical and clinical disciplines is needed to design technologies that can effectively support and help older adults. It will discuss different approaches that are currently being used to include end users in the design process, and will present examples of technologies that have been developed.


About the Speaker:

Alex Mihailidis, Ph.D., P.Eng., is the Barbara G. Stymiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehab Institute. He is also the Graduate Coordinator for the Clinical Engineering Program. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (U of T) and in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (U of T), with a cross appointment in the Department of Computer Science (U of T). He has been conducting research in the field of pervasive computing and intelligent systems in health for the past 15 years, having published over 150 journal papers, conference papers, and abstracts in this field. He has specifically focused on the development of intelligent home systems for elder care and wellness, technology for children with autism, and adaptive tools for nurses and clinical applications.

Distributed Research Seminars

This session will provide attendees with a step-by-step tutorial on using WestGrid machines, including demonstrations of how to log in, submit jobs, move data, troubleshoot, etc. This will be an introductory-level session, covering the basics of getting started and providing tips for efficient and effective use of the machines. WestGrid Support Personnel will be on-hand at each site to answer more advanced questions attendees may have.


** Please note, a video archive for this particular session is not available. To review an archive of a similar session on this topic, presented on October 17, 2012 by WestGrid's University of Manitoba Site Lead, Jonatan Aronsson, please view the YouTube video below.

WestGrid Training Events

This session provides attendees with a step-by-step tutorial on using WestGrid resources for the visualization of scientific data. The talk will discuss the visualization software that is available for use on WestGrid computational resources and how to use this software remotely from your desktop. In particular, the presentation will cover the use of the Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) on for remote visualization of large data sets.

WestGrid Training Events


Modern society demands that people manage, communicate, and interact with digital information at an ever-increasing pace. Even though most people want to be informed, all this information is frequently experienced as stress. It is not the information itself that is the problem, but the manner in which we are bombarded with information in forms that are often hard to interpret. How then can we produce interactive visualizations of digital data in a manner that enhances people's cognitive abilities? Ideally, these visualizations would not only present information visually and aesthetically, but provide people with capabilities for manipulating and exploring this information.

A good visualization provokes interpretation, exploration and appreciation, inviting direct interaction that reveals the data. This sets the stage for my over-arching research goal - to design, develop, and evaluate interactive visualizations so that they support the everyday practices of how people view, represent, manage, and interact with information. To this end, I have followed four intertwined themes: process, presentation, representation, and interaction.

My research process convolves art, science, and design practices, and has become a topic of research in itself. Presentation is the act of displaying visuals, emphasizing and organizing areas of interest. Representation is development of accurate and revealing data-to-visual mappings. And interaction is the key to exploration and manipulation capabilities that can make information comprehension viable. In this talk, I will show how each theme is opening up to indicate exciting new directions and discuss how the currently shifting information climate is opening up new opportunities.

About the speaker:

Sheelagh Carpendale is a Professor in Computer Science at the University of Calgary where she holds a Canada Research Chair in Information Visualization and NSERC/AITF/SMART Technologies Industrial Research Chair in Interactive Technologies. She leads the Innovations in Visualization (InnoVis) Research Group and has initiated the new interdisciplinary graduate- level specialization, Computational Media Design.

Her research on information visualization, large interactive displays, and new media draws on her dual background in Computer Science (BSc. and Ph.D. Simon Fraser University) and Visual Arts (Sheridan College, School of Design and Emily Carr, College of Art). She has just been awarded a NSERC STEACIE Memorial Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding research.

She is an internationally renowned leader in both information visualization and multi-touch tabletop interaction and has recently served in such roles as Papers, Program, or Conference Chair for IEEE InfoVis, and ACM Tabletop and has received both the IEEE and ACM recognition of service awards.

Distributed Research Seminars

Andriy Kovalenko is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta and a Senior Research Officer at the National Institute for Nanotechnology. His research focuses on (i) developing fundamental methodology of multiscale theory, modeling and simulation, capable of predicting the behaviour of complex nanomaterials and nanosystems, and (ii) applying this predictive methodology to provide understanding and rational design of realistic systems and processes of crucial importance in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

An essential part of this multiscale methodology is statistical-mechanical, integral equation theory of molecular liquids, in particular, the three-dimensional (3D) molecular theory of solvation, also known as the three-dimensional reference interaction site model with the Kovalenko-Hirata closure relation (3D-RISM-KH). The multiscale methods he developed include the self-consistent field coupling of quantum chemistry methods (ab initio CASSCF, Kohn-Sham DFT, and Orbital-Free Embedded DFT) with 3D-RISM-KH for nanochemistry, photochemistry, electrochemistry, and nanocatalysis in solution, at solid-liquid interfaces, and in nanoporous materials; 3D-RISM-KH based protein-ligand docking algorithms; milti-time-step molecular dynamics (MTS-MD) of biomolecules steered by solvation forces obtained from 3D-RISM-KH for function-related solvation, folding, misfolding, aggregation, interaction, and bioadsorption of proteins and other biomolecular and hybrid nanosystems in solution. In this talk, Dr. Kovalenko will discuss how WestGrid and Compute Canada - Calcul Canada resources support and advance those investigations.

WestGrid Training Events

MATLAB is a general-purpose high-level programming package that is available for use on WestGrid. It is typically used for numerical work such as linear algebra, but, has many add-on toolboxes to extend its capabilities into discipline-specific areas. Although MATLAB is probably used most often on researchers' desktops as an interactive program through its desktop graphical user interface, that is not the primary way it is used in the batch-oriented WestGrid environment.

This talk will cover the various ways in which MATLAB can be run on WestGrid systems, as determined by the restrictions imposed by licensing considerations. In particular, the use of the MATLAB compiler to create standalone applications will be illustrated. The compiled applications can then be run in normal WestGrid batch jobs.

Note that the talk will not cover MATLAB programming. Instead, it is intended for researchers who would like to run their own MATLAB code on WestGrid, but, are unsure of how to get started with doing so. Most of the material for the talk is drawn from the MATLAB pages on the WestGrid web site at

WestGrid Training Events

Interested in expanding HPC use within your research? Not sure where to begin? This introductory session will provide an overview of the WestGrid and Compute Canada resource structures, as well as walk through the basics of getting started with an account.

Any faculty members and graduate students interested in or curious about using HPC are invited to attend. WestGrid Support Personnel will be on-hand at each site to answer any specific introductory questions attendees may have.

WestGrid Training Events

In this session, Falk Herwig, Associate Professor, Astronomy and Physics at the University of Victoria, will explain how he is using WestGrid / Compute Canada resources to perform complex 3D simulations to study astrophysical fluid dynamics.

This kind of research requires above average HPC cycles, which Herwig has accessed through WestGrid / Compute Canada's Resource Allocation process. He will provide an overview of his research, explain how he gained access to and used WestGrid machines to support that research, and highlight some of the key outcomes achieved as a result.

WestGrid Training Events