This summer, I spent three months at the Ilab at the University of Calgary. My supervisor Sheelagh Carpendale is head of the InnoVis group which is part of the Ilab. I had the opportunity to visit the Ilab through the MIN Program: Mentoring International for Female Natural Scientists at the University Konstanz and which was funded by the Transregional Collaborative Research Center (SFR-TRR) 161. During my time, I worked with five great researchers (Lindsay MacDonald, Phd candidate; Jo Vermeulen, Postdoc; Charles Perin, Postdoc; Wesley Willet, Professor; and Sheelagh Carpendale; Professor) evaluating a website developed and designed by them. The website Canada’s Energy Future presents energy data and was developed during a project in cooperation with the National Energy Board of Canada.

Canada's Energy Future website evaluated during my research stay.
Canada’s Energy Future website evaluated during my research stay.

I conducted an eye tracking study, collecting eye movements, interaction data, audio and video recordings. Overall, 24 participants participated in the study – 8 novices, 8 computer science students, and 8 experts. Our goal was to analyze the design of the website and extract user behavior patterns. After three months of hard work, we were able to submit a paper to ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). During my time at the Ilab, I learned a lot about energy production and use in Canada. Also, I know all 13 provinces and territories of Canada now. It was a great experience working with Sheelagh and her team, and these new collaboration will extend into the future.

Fateme (right) and me in front of the eye tracker, my workstation for the study.
Fateme (right) and me in front of the eye tracker, my workstation for the study.

Besides work, I also had time to explore Calgary and the surrounding area. During multiple trips to the Rocky Mountains, Drumhellar, and downtown Calgary I was able to see different landscapes and the beauty of Alberta. The Rocky Mountains are great for hikes, horseback riding, seeing waterfalls, lakes, and in late September I also had the opportunity to see all the beautiful larches turning yellow. The first snow, I fortunately only saw from a distance at the top of the mountains. After visiting Calgary, I was able to extend my time in Canada and had a nice holiday in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick before going to VIS 2016 in Baltimore.

Three Months in Calgary

Tanja Blascheck is a PhD Researcher at the Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems at the University of Stuttgart, Germany in the group of Thomas Ertl. Her main research interest are eye tracking, and the evaluation of visual analytics systems. A specific focus of her research is on developing new methods to analyze eye movement data from interactive stimuli. She is especially interested in combining eye movement data with interaction logs and thinking aloud data.

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