Winners Announced for 2017 Visualize This Challenge

December 20, 2017

WestGrid is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Visualize This! Challenge. First place was awarded to Jarno van der Kolk, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Ottawa Physics Department; second place went to Nadya Moiseeeva, a PhD student in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia; and third place went to Thangam Natarajan, Dan MacDonald, Richard Windeyer, Peter Coppin, and David Steinman, a joint team from the Biomedical Simulation Laboratory of the University of Toronto and the Perceptual Artifacts Laboratory of OCAD University.

Now in its second year, Visualize This! is a Canada-wide competition that aims to celebrate the innovative ways visualization can help researchers explore datasets and answer important scientific questions.

"More than 80 people expressed interest in the competition this year and it was a difficult selection process as we had some very strong submissions this year," said Alex Razoumov, WestGrid's Training and Visualization Coordinator, and the Team Lead for Compute Canada's national Visualization Team. "The aim of this competition was to challenge people's creativity, encourage them to experiment with new visualization tools, and contribute to the growth of data visualization in Canada. We are very pleased with the success of this year's challenge and the quality of entries received."

The 2017 competition launched on October 1 and participants had two months to create a compelling visualization for the contributed dataset, a multi-scale aerodynamical model of several counter-rotating vertical-axis wind turbines.

The winning visualization is pictured below. Click here to view the second and third place entries.

The winning submissions will be added to the Compute Canada visualization gallery. All submissions were created using open-source visualization tools, which will enable other researchers to repurpose and build on the submitted work.

According to Razoumov, one of the reasons why van der Kolk's submission stood out from the rest was its overall presentation, which included a well-researched and informative presentation and narration. van der Kolk, who works with Lora Ramunno's Computational Nanophotonics Group at the University of Ottawa, said his goal was to present the data in a way that could be understood by anyone.

"That meant doing a literature search to see why counter-rotating vertical windmills could be better than the ones we have now and to show what they look like in real-life," he said. "Hence, I used the house for scale and showed the windmill in action with the blades counter-rotating while explaining the motivation. After that I tried to present the interaction of the air with the blades using the available data."

His work with the Computational Nanophotonics Group is mainly theoretical, and he often uses visualization techniques to delve deeper into his datasets.

"We run large-scale finite-difference time-domain simulations of nonlinear optical processes on WestGrid, SHARCNET, and Soscip's BlueGene," he said. "These simulations use up to 16,000 CPUs and hundreds of GB of memory, which produces a lot of data that needs to be presented in an understandable way. Visualization helps with showing the problem we are trying to understand with our simulations."

The Visualize This! Challenge will return next year, with a new contributed dataset and a new challenge for researchers to tackle. Watch for details in Fall 2018.

WestGrid would like to thank our prize sponsors for the 2017 competition: Dell EMC, who donated a 43" 4K Multi-Client Monitor, and Intel, who donated 512 GB SSD drives.