MIT’s Felice Frankel To Deliver Sigma Xi Lecture

Felice Frankel, science photographer and research scientist at the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will deliver the 2013 Sigma Xi Lecture on Wednesday April 24 at 3:00 pm in the MTCC Auditorium.

“More Than Pretty Pictures: How Creating Science Graphics Expands Your Thinking”
Graphics, images and figures—visual representations of scientific data and concepts—are critical components of science and engineering research. They communicate in ways that words cannot. They can clarify or strengthen an argument and spur interest into the research process.

It is important to remember that a visual representation of a scientific concept (or data) is a re-presentation, and not the thing itself; some interpretation or translation is always involved. There are many parallels between creating a graphic and writing an article. First, you must carefully plan what to “say,” and in what order you will “say it.” Then you must make judgments to determine a hierarchy of information — what must be included and what could be left out? The process of making a visual representation requires you to clarify your thinking and improve your ability to communicate with others. Furthermore, the process of making an effective graphic often leads to new insights into your work; when you make decisions about how to depict your data and underlying concepts, you must often clarify your basic assumptions.

Frankel’s lecture will include examples of successful and not-so-successful representations from the science and engineering literature appearing in her book Visual Strategies. She will also discuss her own process from start to finish, and most importantly, she will discuss efforts to advance visual literacy in science in K-12 and higher education.

Please contact Megan Goelzer at with any questions.