Keynote Speaker: Jim Thomas
Director, National Visualization and Analytics Center
Fellow of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Visual Analytics: a Grand Challenge in Science - Turning Information Overload into the Opportunity of the Decade

We are in the midst of a major change in the requirements for visualization technologies. The issues posed by information overload goes beyond what is provided by traditional scientific and information visualization. These new requirements will drive an emerging research and development agenda including aspects from both scientific and information visualization with a published starting point developed by a team of 40 renowned scientists and hopeful end users: Illuminating the Path: the Research and Development Agenda for Visual Analytics, The history of visualization has been dominated by the invention and effective delivery of technology and products around visual metaphors—usually with a single metaphor such as flow fields, a tree or spherical visual per product. The recent focus on devices such as caves, walls, tables, tablets and PDAs has offered new physical forms of display. However, people using these metaphors and devices are simply drowning in information and require a fundamentally new approach to visualization and interaction. The interaction, whether in the area of genomics, finance, communications, or homeland security, must be driven by a discourse for discovery and engaged learning. I will use the term Visual Analytics to represent a vision for suites of technologies that provide a new approach to interaction and allow a discourse for discovery. Early technology and products are being used today having a real impact in health related drug discovery and national security. Learning from those usages and deployments, I will present the driving new characteristics of interaction and suggest the top technical challenges for visual analytics, enlisting comments and recommendations.

Jim Thomas is a PNNL Lab Fellow and Chief Scientist for Information Technologies at Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with over 30 years of experience. He now is Director of the Department of Homeland Security founded National Visual Analytics Center. His responsibilities at Battelle include establishing investment directions for Information Technology (IT), representing IT inside and outside the lab, leading major technology initiatives, mentoring staff, and being a PI on several major programs. He specializes in the research, design, and implementation of innovative information and scientific visualization, multimedia, and human computer interaction technology; however, he has a broad working knowledge of information technology. Some of the recent technologies developed have set a new stage for the visualization of masses of multimedia information sources with several publications, patents, with recent publications being widely referenced and re-printed. More recently he has led teams in text, numerical, image and video analysis for massive information spaces. He has received several international science awards including “Top 100 Scientific Innovators” (Science Digest) and twice the Research and Development's Industrial Research 100 Significant Scientific and Industry Accomplishments “Top 100 Innovators in Science and Industry”. In addition, twice he was awarded the Federal Laboratories Consortium Technology Transfer Award for innovation in transferring research technology to industry and universities. In addition Thomas served as 2003 and 2004 IEEE Visualization Conference Co-Chair, Chair ACM SIGGRAPH 1987-1992, 1998-2002 Editor-In-Chief for IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Founder of ACM User Interface Science and Technology Conference, and has over 120 publications and sits on several advisory boards.