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Allen School’s Jeffrey Heer elected to CHI Academy

Allen School professor Jeffrey Heer has been honored by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI) with election to the CHI Academy. The Academy is composed of researchers who have made substantial, cumulative contributions to the field of human-computer interaction through the development of new explorative directions and innovations and have influenced the work of their peers. He is one of only eight new members elected to the CHI Academy this year. 

Heer, who holds the Jerre D. Noe Endowed Professorship at the Allen School, is a leading researcher in HCI, social computing and data visualization. He directs the Interactive Data Lab, where he and his team investigate the perceptual, cognitive, and social factors involved in making sense of large data collections. They then apply these insights to the development of novel interactive systems for visual analysis and communication, including tools to enhance interactive visualization on the web.  

As a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, Heer created Prefuse, one of the first software frameworks for information visualization and Flare, a version of Prefuse built for Adobe Flash that was partly informed by his work in animated transitions. As a faculty member at Stanford University, he worked with Ph.D. student Mike Bostock on Protovis, a graphical toolkit for visualization that combined the efficiency of high-level visualization systems and the expressiveness and accessibility of low-level graphical systems, and Data-Driven Documents (D3), which succeeded Protovis as the de facto standard for interactive visualizations on the web. Heer also contributed to Data Wrangler, an interactive tool for cleaning and transforming raw data that was developed by researchers at Stanford and Berkeley. Heer and colleagues co-founded a startup company, Trifacta, to commercialize that work. 

Since joining the Allen School faculty in 2013, Heer and his students have worked on a suite of complementary tools for data analysis and visualization design built on Vega, a declarative language for producing interactive visualizations. These tools include Lyra, an interactive environment for generating customized visualizations, and Voyager, a recommendation-powered visualization browser. Vega led to Vega-Lite, a high-level grammar for rapid and concise specification of interactive data visualizations.

“I am honored to be named to the CHI Academy, with so many members that have been mentors and role models to me throughout my career,” Heer said. “And it’s a special treat to be included in this particular cohort, alongside my wonderful Ph.D. advisor Maneesh Agrawala and my inspiring colleague and former internship advisor Fernanda Viégas.”

Heer’s work has previously been recognized with a Sloan Research Fellowship, the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, the IEEE Visualization Technical Achievement Award, Best Paper Awards at ACM CHI, EuroVis and IEEE InfoVis conferences and an IEEE InfoVis 10-Year Test-of-Time Award.

Heer’s election to the CHI Academy follows that of Allen School professor Jennifer Mankoff and iSchool professors and Allen School adjunct faculty members Batya Friedman and Jacob Wobbrock in 2017.

Congratulations, Jeff!