Life updates

So I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon more often than I can count, but maybe sparse updates are better than zero updates? I don’t even no where to begin, so why not have a little bullet point list of big life changes:

  • I became a mom in 2022. Words can’t express what an impact on my life this change has had. In Norway we get one year of parental leave, so I basically took a break from work for a year that in many ways wasn’t so much a break, but rather a life-altering role change. I try not to post his cute little face online for various reasons, but here is a glimpse of us in Bergen. He is much bigger now of course!
  • I received tenure January 2023. So I successfully completed the tenure track and officially became a tenured full professor in medical visualization. This happened while I was very busy being a mom, so this change sort of went under the radar for me. Apparently, I was the first at our University to do this though, so there was a nice interview and lots of congratulations from my dear colleagues. Now that I am back at work, it does feel different in that a lot of the pressure to build my tenure portfolio is gone, so that I can engage in things that are meaningful and add value during a larger part of my time than before.
  • Work-life balance. Becoming a mother has also impacted this area of my life. I get two hours a day off for breastfeeding (paid! <3 Norway, the best country ever and also my employer). In addition, we need to bring the bundle of joy to kindergarten and pick him up at a reasonable hour. Then when I am home, there is no change to work due to caregiving responsibilities and sleep trouble. This forces work-life balance like nothing else, there is just not a chance to work outside of my reduced working hours. This means downscaling, in particular, my expectations of what I can do. It also means feeling like I am failing as a researcher, as a mom, and/or as a partner a lot of the times in a variety of configurations.
  • Productivity tools. I have been a loyal Evernote user for about 12 years. I used it for everything, recipes, lab journal, travel planning, deciding what eyeshadow is worth buying (yes really), etc. But given the recent subscription price hike and what they did to the free tier features (“Take great notes, Create up to 50 notes and 1 notebook”, … There is nothing great about this whatsoever, Evernote!), we had a rough break up. The break up was significantly eased by a smooth transition to Obsidian. Exporting and importing 12 years of life notes was surprisingly easy and I love everything about Obsidian. I also separated personal and work-related notes into their own vaults. Perhaps someday a blog post of its own? For recipes, my friend StefanV recommended Paprika and this is really the best thing to ever happen in my kitchen.

I think it is lunch o’ clock soon, so going to wrap this up without any good concluding statement whatsoever.

The Name of the Year in Academia – Norwegian Edition

Just before the Christmas holiday break, my dear friend Veronika CH pointed me to the news about the winner of the ‘Name of the Year in Academia’ award handed out by the university newspaper Khrono. While many have already written at length in response to this ‘debate’, I want to contribute by writing something in English so that more people whom the debate is actually about might be able to follow along and contribute. I am doing this on my personal blog because this post will reflect my personal opinion and I don’t necessarily want to give Khrono even more clicks and views on this.

So what happened?

The national newspaper of universities in Norway, Khrono, is no stranger to posting controversial opinion pieces. It is generally also where I get my news on what’s happening in Norwegian academia, for example, on the ridiculous two sensor rule. Earlier this year though, they posted something which was straight up inflammatory. I am going to do my best to translate what Cecilie Hellestveit wrote:

The debate starter piece published 24-09-2021 in Khrono

“Cecilie Hellestveit thinks one aspect with this theme is that more and more positions in academia go to foreign researchers. It has been that way for a while and Hellestveit thinks it is problematic.”

The foreign researchers do not know the Norwegian society and are not here to invest in it. They are here because they did not get a job at the most prestigious universities yet. Some fields are so dominated by foreign researchers that there are barely any Norwegians left among the employees. What is the point of research which not first and foremost has the Norwegian society as a starting point?”

– Cecilie Hellestveit

There is a lot to unpack here and this statement obviously attracted many responses, mainly speaking against such views. However, when was time for an all-Norwegian jury to pick the award winner for ‘Name of the Year in Academia’, it went to, drumroll, Cecilie Hellestveit. This again led to many responses, both on Twitter and as subsequent opinion pieces in Khrono. For example, Ingunn W. Jolma and Christian Jørgensen presented excellent opinion pieces in Khrono. Khrono summed up some of the Twitter responses here, both negative and positive. The editor added a piece of her own defending the situation.

My thoughts

I have always felt welcome and at home in Norway. My colleagues, no matter where they are originally from, have supported me and also my endeavors to learn Norwegian. I in fact feel so at home in Norway that I am not considering moving back to the Netherlands after over five years here. I pay taxes in Norway happily supporting the amazing health care system among other things. As I still feel Dutch at heart and the Netherlands does not allow for double passports, I do not want to give up my Dutch passport. This means that I do not get to vote in the national elections.

Still, I consider myself and my international colleagues contributing to research, advancing our science which may also impact Norwegian society, though it does not exclusively aim at that. It is not even true that I am only here because I was not able to get a job at a prestigious university. I think excellent research is done when joining forces with people with many different areas of expertise. Often, this involves collaborating with people outside of our backyard, though this not does preclude collaborating with people inside our backyard.

The statements by Cecilie Hellestveit are offensive to me. This can happen, she is expressing her opinion, just as I am now. I do not think this particular opinion is award-worthy and this is the part that is most hurtful to me. It makes me question how many in Norway hold these views and are applauding the awardee for finally speaking up about these parasitic foreigners taking our jobs, none of them with Norway’s best interests in mind, only here as proper prestigious universities would not take them.

ORW the boss explains that our branch is shutting down and we are all being  laid off. - GIF on Imgur

I feel personally attacked and sad for my foreign colleagues living here, sacrificing a lot to be here in the process. On a side note, I applied for the Academy of Young Scientists in Norway and got rejected. As the leader of this organization was on the jury for this award, I now start to second guess the reasons for this and wonder whether I perhaps wasn’t Norwegian enough to partake in this?

The main reason stated for Hellestveit being awarded is that it started an important debate on internationalization in Norwegian academia. However, when expressing your generalizing opinion about a group of people as a means of starting a debate, I think it is only fair to do so in a way where people who are the subject of said debate can participate actively. This can be achieved by doing this in a common language so that everyone can understand and respond if they wish. I hope this blog contributes a little in this regard.

I question Khrono’s motivation in all this. Are they so desperate for clicks that posting inflammatory personal opinions should be awarded to get even more engagement? I realize that this blog too adds more undeserved attention, but I really could not stop thinking about this, even in my Christmas holiday, and I thought writing might help.

To end on a positive note, I am grateful to all those who spoke up against this award process and the views it represents. You make me feel hopeful, respected, and welcome.

On Career Paths and Gratitude

When someone asks me how I ended up in this tenure-track position in medical visualization, I often answer: “Well, I was very lucky! There are not many positions like this and I had exactly the right mixed background”. A new interdisciplinary center for Medical Imaging and Visualization (MMIV) was about to be established and this position came with it. While I don’t disagree with myself entirely, calling it luck does not completely cover it.

Some people might respond differently to this question entirely and say (or at least think): “I am just that good and worked hard to get here”. This is a ‘self-made man’-style sentiment that I do not subscribe to. One of my friends, who has also started writing great blog posts recently, recently said “We’re all products of our backgrounds…. There is only a tiny bit we bring to the table ourselves. Some. But definitely not all.”. This exactly reflects my view on this topic, we are presented with different opportunities and challenges based on the environments we grow up in. This brings me to my reason for disagreeing with myself calling it just luck. It is not respectful to the people that made this path possible for me in many ways.

I like this image a lot. However, I don’t think we all have equal opportunities and it is all up to us to shape our future. We are dealt a different cards from the very beginning and your environment also determines what is possible. I think the gray line, TODAY, is where we should focus most of our attention.

In this post, I would like to thank some of the people who made this particular career path possible for me. A risk of writing such posts is that you might forget to mention some and this could cause offense, but I would rather take this risk than never show gratitude at all. Sorry if I did not mention you! I am sure you were great as well 🙂

A supportive family

I grew up in a wonderful and loving family. My father worked as a lab analyst while my mother was a health care provider who took care of those that could no longer care for themselves. Both the precise and technical aspects of lab work and helping others ended up as a major inspiration for later career choices. Thanks to my dad’s passion for video games, we always had access to the latest computers. I started playing games with my dad and brother on the Commodore 64 when I was very young. Never once did I hear: ‘Oh games are not for girls, you are supposed to play with dolls’. I did not know of many in my family who went to University and there was certainly no one who had a PhD degree. Perhaps as a result of this, my parents never pressured me into getting top grades or picking certain career directions and only encouraged me by saying ‘you should do something you like doing’. I am so grateful for their support and exactly this encouragement.

A supportive study environment

When I was in elementary school, I had some sort of natural aptitude for math problems (unfortunately for me, this natural aptitude is currently missing in action :D). I was already finished with the math assignments way before others in my class. One of my teachers noticed and started giving me more math problems at higher difficulty levels so I would not be bored. She gave me the opportunity to do more of what I liked so much.

During high school, the open days at universities (a career path expected for students at Gymnasium high school level in the Netherlands) did not impress me at all. I remember ‘computer science’ in particular had something lame about databases as a demonstration of what the studies are about. I wanted to help people and thought of becoming a physical therapist. My dad took me to an open day at the local hospital and there we were also introduced to other professions. One of them was radiography. This job amazed me, they had all sorts of epic machines that allow people to look inside the human body. So I went to study and work as a radiographer for three years. I enjoyed it at the time, but realized I wanted to do more with the technical aspects of the job after some years. My supportive family and especially my partner encouraged me to quit a job I didn’t enjoy any longer and to study something I might enjoy instead. As I still loved gaming, I thought, why not computer science?

As I was gaming so much, at first I dreamed of becoming a game developer while studying computer sciences. However, on the university web pages when looking into computer graphics, I saw something called ‘medical visualization’. During my bachelor studies, I made an appointment with Charl Botha to see what that was about. He showed me super exciting research using a combination of computer graphics and the medical imaging data I had been on the producing end of in my previous job. This was clearly the best of both worlds! I happily did my bachelor thesis under Charl’s guidance and continued to specialize further in this area during my master’s. While a PhD position was certainly not something I was very aware of during my studies, I got a glimpse of this life while working with Charl on my master thesis project. I was fully convinced I was too stupid to do this sort of thing, but Charl patiently explained what type of skillset is needed to do a PhD and why I would be able to. If it was not for this particular encouragement and the position he had open, I would have never even considered it.

A supportive research environment

As a PhD candidate in the Netherlands, you are a paid employee with all benefits. This is a very good thing in my opinion. Especially as we didn’t have the financial means to support ourselves if this was not the case. Throughout my career as a PhD candidate, I again received excellent support from my environment. One example is all the advice and inspiration from my PhD advisors, which was not only limited to the research itself. Also my colleagues and collaborators were graciously sharing their experiences, their networks, and their time.

As I mentioned before, the tenure-track position I have came with the establishment of a new interdisciplinary research center. This center was established based on a lot of hard work from people in Bergen over many years in the MedViz initiative. This in turn provided perfect conditions for an exciting interdisciplinary research environment to thrive. I am so grateful to everyone here who has worked on making this happen and those that gave me a chance in this position. I am literally in the place of my dreams, an environment where people of different backgrounds collaborate on developing technology that helps people.

The longer answer

Coming back to my original answer. I still believe luck is a large component in landing the job I did. The academic job market is shaped like a pyramid with very little room at the top.

The academic positions pyramid scheme. Note that this is a conceptual representation only, I think the actual numbers at the top are much smaller than this shape suggests. Also, as Norway does not seem to do the assistant prof. thing, I totally skipped a step.

Just looking at the sheer number of positions, only very few will have the opportunity to achieve tenure. There simply are not enough positions to make everyone who has put in the hard work and would qualify an offer. This sucks and I think we should be aware of these odds from the very beginning. As advisors, we should highlight non-academic career paths post-PhD as they can be just as rewarding (if not more :D).

The total numbers of employees and percentages at Dutch universities in 2019 (screenshot from interactive VSNU page). 3447 people (6%) were hoogleraar (professor), 92% of those in a permanent position. 9017 people (17%) were promovendi (PhD candidates), 100% in temporary positions. Don’t get me started on the leaky pipeline in terms of gender ratios shown on the right.

It is also important to acknowledge privilege. I had access to things growing up that made my career possible. For example, the computers in our home allowed me to build computer skills and interest from an early age. Many families do not have the financial means to support this or to support the ‘do what makes you happy’ career advice. I was lucky to join a research team with a great reputation internationally in my field and to have access to everything I needed. I try to pay it forward as much as I can.

Note the survivorship bias when considering who has tenured positions and trying to figure out what properties lead to success. While I would love to hand out the ‘Ten Hot Tips on How to Get a Tenure-Track Position – Number Five will Blow your Mind!’-clickbait, I cannot. I still believe a large component is luck and randomness. The luck is not only in available positions and background, but very much in having the right environment from the very beginning and along the way.

This post is the longer answer to the original question: “Well, I was very lucky to be born in the right supportive family, receive excellent support in my school years and meet many amazing people along the way! There are not many positions like this and I had exactly the right mixed background, thanks to the support of everyone around me.“. Thanks everyone! Also to those who inspired this blog post, you know who you are 🙂

On establishing a Code of Conduct for Conferences

In this blog, I want to summarize thoughts I shared at the EuroGraphics conference Diversity Panel this year. Just as a disclaimer, I am by no means an expert in this area and this is purely my personal view on things based on my experiences and those shared by others.

Let me start off with a little origins story in three acts, if you don’t care for lengthy exposition, feel free to skip to the good bits under the named headers below.

Act 1: The first time I heard of a Code of Conduct established for events was probably in the context of video game conventions, like GamesCom and E3, and probably also comic-cons. I thought that this made a lot of sense. You have a situation where there are a bunch of people coming together where there is a highly uneven gender distribution, probably some difficult power dynamics (celebrities and fans), and well booth-babes were still a thing back then. A recipe for disaster which surely needs some sort of rules to make sure everyone can stay safe and issues can be reported and dealt with appropriately as needed.

Act 2: Much later in life, I embark on a PhD in medical visualization (second choice after first dreaming of becoming a game dev, dodged that bullet!) and am attending scientific conferences in the wonderful field of visualization. People are incredibly awesome and I never noticed that these conferences do not all have a similar Code of Conduct established. I guess it is not needed with a community this amazing? Right? RIGHT?

Act 3: Wrong! Now a couple of years into my tenure-track position, I have done a 180 on this topic. By now, I have personally experienced harassment at conferences, heard stories of others with similar experiences, and this is just not acceptable. Guess what? Scientific conferences aren’t all that different from games or comic conventions: all fields have minorities in some sense, be it in terms of gender, sexual orientation, race, or otherwise, and challenging power dynamics. Perhaps the power dynamics are even more challenging, with advisor-student relations in the mix. Not to mention the parties at conferences with copious amounts of alcohol involved. The ingredients for incidents to occur are all there, perhaps minus the booth-babes.

In the past, after experiencing unfortunate events myself, I always thought a mix of: ‘I can handle it – it’s not a big deal – I don’t want to bother anyone or cause trouble – this is probably just how it is – I’m sure things will get better in the future – even if I would like to do something, what should I even do?’ After talking to more senior women in my field, it seems things are not improving on their own given time and we need to take action if we want this to change now and for future generations. This is what drives me to work on this, and I hope it motivates you as well. Scientific conferences absolutely need to establish a Code of Conduct where there aren’t any in place already. End scene.

Why establish a Code of Conduct?

I think no one disagrees that we want our scientific events to be safe for everyone and that harassment in any form is not acceptable. A Code of Conduct can contribute to this in several ways, by signaling what values we find important, providing a reporting mechanism for incidents, and devising strategies for appropriate action when incidents occur. Note that I am not saying if incidents occur, but when. I really think by now we are really being naive if we think our scientific fields are somehow special and no harassment or inappropriate behavior takes place ever. You may not have not experienced or observed such behavior, but that does not mean it does not happen. How could we even know how often this occurs without reporting mechanisms in place? Just watch the documentary ‘Picture a Scientist‘ to get some ideas of the type of stuff going on in academia. Or, you know, just get on Twitter and learn about incidents in your community, like xenophobes receiving career awards or sexual harassers going for tenure after misbehaving at conferences for years. How many incidents are still hidden? How many more need to happen before we make a change?

How to establish a Code of Conduct

This is actually not as hard as it might appear, but requires some action from your side, either as an attendee or organizer:

1. If you are attending an event and you notice there is no Code of Conduct, why not reach out to the general chairs and ask? In my experience, suggesting this for the EG EuroVis conference and the EG VCBM workshop was met with complete support by the general chairs. It could be that the event organizers simply hadn’t considered this aspect as there is a lot on their plate already. To support them in getting this in place, you could look up similar arrangements in other conferences in your field for inspiration (as we were inspired by the excellent set-up at IEEE VIS) or volunteer to contribute yourself.

2. If you are involved in organizing any event at any level, push for getting a Code of Conduct established if there isn’t one already. Best case: you never need it as no incidents ever occurs and your community is unique. More likely case: you have now provided your event attendees a clear path to get help when incidents occur and signal to everyone that harassment and inappropriate behavior is not welcome at this event. Worst case? There is no worst case, you have nothing to lose except potential research talents in your field that leave after incidents happen if you don’t take action. Even if events are rare and this only ends up helping one person, isn’t that already worth it?


I think there are three essential ingredients in any Code of Conduct: a description of what conduct is not acceptable, a process for reporting incidents, and a description of potential consequences of a breach. Some additional tips:

  • One thing I appreciate very much in how IEEE VIS handles reporting is that there are both individuals in our community listed as well as a shared email address, so it is easy to get in touch as an attendee.
  • Having a larger organization backing your event can be very helpful in this. For example, in Computer Science, IEEE and ACM already have a Code of Conduct and Ethics established. This makes it easy to escalate incidents to these larger organizations and take advantage of the mechanisms they have in place. However, to keep the reporting threshold low, I still recommend listing people in your community in addition as a first point of contact.
  • In order to be effective, the Code of Conduct needs to be visible! Have it added to the registration form with a checkbox and mention it in the conference opening.
  • You somehow need to strike a balance to have something that is lightweight and easy to implement, but at the same time thorough enough to have the intended effect.
  • Actions should have consequences. This is likely the most tricky to navigate, but what could potential consequences be if people breach the Code of Conduct? Prepare this well so that you are ready to act when the time comes.


What constitutes acceptable behavior depends on who you ask and when. It can be challenging to find common values everyone in the community agrees on, but this does not mean it is impossible or should not be at least attempted. We might need help from people with more expertise in this area to do so effectively, regarding ethics, behavior, etc.

In addition, deciding on appropriate responses to a breach in a Code of Conduct can be difficult. If local laws are broken, contacting the police is an obvious step. But what if there is a minor incident? Who investigates the issue and what are the next steps? A warning or exclusion from the event? Exclusion for how long? Who should be reported to? Who has the power to take action? Who keeps institutional memory of incidents? You might need to get legal advice to see what exactly are possible actions for your organization.

Last but not least, it should not be up to ‘the minorities’ alone to fight for a respectful inclusive environment. We would all rather focus on the science than this honestly. Speaking as a person of an under-represented gender in computer science, I am already overloaded on additional service work as is (hiring committee rules established with the best of intentions resulting in me I hiring half the department by now :D). In addition, a Code of Conduct should reflect the views of the community as a whole, not only the minorities.


If the conferences you attend organize already have a Code of Conduct, great job! If not, here is what you can gain by pushing for this:

  • A welcoming environment in which every conference attendee can feel safe, be it in person, hybrid or virtual events.
  • A mechanism for reporting incidents in order to make informed decisions on policy and get a better view on issues that need to be addressed in your community
  • An opportunity to signal values you consider important as a community

I have many more thoughts on this that I didn’t cover here, but things are getting lengthy and I am getting sleepy, so I will leave it at this for now, potentially editing this at a later point. Normally I would keep this as a draft until then, but I promised some people I would publish this tonight, so here we are 🙂


I don’t want to expose anyone in case they would prefer to remain anonymous, but there are some people I would like to name at least as they have spoken publicly about these things before. I would like to thank Céline Loscos, diversity chair at the Eurographics organization for excellent discussions towards establishing a code of conduct and code of ethics at the Eurographics organization level. She headed the diversity panel this year discussing these topics. On the same panel, Elmar Eisemann spoke about the challenges in establishing a code of ethics for paper content. We will continue to work together to improve things at Eurographics. I would also like to thank the general chairs of EG EuroVis and EG VCBM 2021 for their support in this endeavor. Finally, I would like to thank everyone that shared their experiences and advice which helped shape my thoughts

The First International Spring School for Biomedical Visualization

I am writing this after an action-packed week co-organizing and lecturing at the first ever international virtual Spring school for biomedical visualization. With this, I wanted to share some thoughts and resources gathered over the week.


Initial thoughts around launching an educational platform for the visualization of biological and medical data were shared at a Shonan seminar on ‘Formalizing Biological and Medical Visualization’. This trip is also known as the last of my travels in the before-times. Then the pandemic hit and everyone had to move their teaching to digital format. We realized that as people moved to digital teaching, we would have an opportunity to bring these lectures together on a shared platform. We considered as such a platform, but did not fit the goal of uniting the biological and medical data visualization communities. To seed our new platform with excellent base content, we landed on planning a Spring School aimed at students and PhD candidates, Bio+Med+Vis Spring. We would host this as a virtual event, due to pandemic restrictions. This allowed us to have a unique opportunity for international lecturers and participants.


Due to the combined networks of the organizers and the online setting, we could to offer a program filled with top international visualization researchers from various backgrounds. As we opened for registration, we were expecting maybe 50 participants to sign up. This would have been fine as the main goal was gathering resources for our platform. Above all initial expectations, we ended up with about 350 registered participants. While this is wonderful and maybe even over what in-person EuroVis draws, this also generates organizational complexity. A regular Zoom room with 350 for example will degrade recording quality as chances are high that someone unmutes or does something strange. Another major goal of a Spring school was to connect people worldwide at all career stages. However, from experience we all know these connections aren’t easily made in a virtual set-up, especially not at this scale.


Here’s what we ended up with in terms of setup:

  • Before the week started, we opened up a Miro board for people to introduce themselves with a photo if they wanted. Originally we planned to have people introduce themselves during the opening, but this really doesn’t scale. It turned into a nice visual with pictures and sticky notes.
  • The lectures ran in a Zoom Webinar format. This allows for less interactivity with participants, but more control over the sessions. All talks were live to minimize preparation time for speakers and maximize engagement. We asked for a 500 participant capacity, but I think higher numbers are also possible. As we were planning on offering recordings of the lectures on our platform afterwards, this was really the ideal setup, in my opinion. Roughly 100 participants attended the lectures live, though this number dropped a fair bit as the week went on. In part this is also due to timezone complexity. I heard one participant got up at 4 am daily to join our sessions!
  • Participants could ask questions and interact with each other via a Discord server, obviously inspired by EuroVis and IEEE VIS last year. We had one channel per session, but also general channels such as #hiring, which were well used. The voice channels were less often used in breaks. I think the main reason is that the breaks were too short to really do anything except catch your breath and maybe get a drink or snack.
  • We had a social event running in Congregate. Congregate features virtual tables of different sizes that people can click on to join for group voice or video chats. Though only around 50 joined, I think it worked well and I met a lot of new cool people as well as old friends this way! Perhaps we should have planned this earlier in the week or opened it every day instead of the Discord voice channels.

Fun Facts

  • This whole Spring school ran entirely on volunteer work with zero budget. None of the organizers and lecturers were paid and everyone generously contributed their time to this. This also made it possible to offer free registration. While we were endorsed by Biovis, VCBM, and MMIV, we did not need to attract sponsors in this format. Of course when you think about time costs, many people worldwide spend many hours preparing all this. The University of Bergen offered their Zoom webinar license and support for the set-up. I would like to thank Håkon Øren at the IT department for helping us with this.
  • Using the same Zoom Webinar for the entire week made it easy to join. However, it was not so easy to go ‘offline’ in the short breaks between sessions without kicking all attendees out. To avoid this, we left the webinar running in breaks. This made informal pre-lecture banter between organizers and speakers public for all to hear. I heard that my fangirling over meeting VTK’s Will Shroeder was indeed quite wholesome on the Discord :D. One participant noted this could be one reason why people didn’t join the Discord voice chats in the break. This could very well be the case, as I consider my banter to be high quality content which is not to be missed ;)!
  • While I am normally all about the work-life balance and do not work evenings and weekends, I was certaintly not this week. In mornings I was doing my regular work and from 1pm opening the webinar for speakers to practice their set-up (if not in a conflicting meeting). From 2pm, we went live and as the only ones with UiB accounts and recording privileges, Jan and myself had to be at every lecture the whole week. When the program ended at 8pm, I would wait for Zoom post-processing to finish, terrified of losing the recordings. I was home after 10pm most days and insanely tired of all the screen staring, meme-ing it up on Discord, etc.
  • One of the lecturers could not make it due to unforeseen circumstances. I offered to do a replacement lecture, but as my days were packed, I only had about an hour to prepare one. I think it worked out okish in the end, but it really felt like badly executed improv comedy on my end.

Closing Remarks

To wrap this overly long post up, here are my final thoughts on this week. It was incredible to see people worldwide coming together spending their time either giving lectures or listening and participating in the discussions. A lot of the lecturers attended other lectures to learn more about specifics of other sub-fields. I learned a lot about biological data visualization, and I imagine the biovis people learned a lot about medical visualization. Newcomers to the field hopefully learned a ton about visualization in general as well.

While at conferences, I sometimes feel like only a handful are doing biomedical visualization, this event made me feel like we have a lively community and there is a lot of interest from people at all career phases and across disciplines. Though it was very time-intensive, I would do it again in a heartbeat, though not immediately probably :). We have heard so much positive feedback from attendees and lecturers which made the whole thing very rewarding. Thanks everyone!


Here are the resources I lured you here with in the intro text. Note that they are only shared at the very end on purpose to reward patient readers 😀

  • The number one resource I wish I had when I was a student are the recorded video lectures. Our resident video editor MVP, Sherin Sugathan, has worked tirelessly to make these high-quality materials available already during the week. We are still post-processing some, but all except one lecture will be available on our program page and YouTube channel. Hit like and subscribe!
  • Through the #twitter-handles Discord channel, we gathered Twitter handles (surprisingly) of lecturers and participants and compiled a Twitter list. If you follow this list, you follow 57 and counting biomedical visualization Twitterers (is that a word?). Check it out here and give us a follow.
  • A lot of the lecturers shared their slide-decks on Discord. We still have to check whether they are ok to post on our platform webpage as well, so feel free to keep an eye on

This did not entirely turn out to be the short blog I intended, but well, here we are! I’m off to enjoy a long Pentecost weekend, I hope you are able to do the same!


Over the past year, I’ve received support from an academic coach who has helped me to become better at carving out time to work on focused writing on papers, book chapters, and grant proposals. I highly recommend her if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your academic work, are constantly working on other people’s agendas, and are looking to make lasting improvements to your academic quality of life! You can reach her at Scholars & Writers consulting (not sponsored :)).

Yesterday, I was asking her for advice on how to better fight the constant urge to check the news, social media, my phone, and whatever else digital interruption I am craving in these wonderful pandemic times. In addition to other advice, such as making a list of three to five things I would rather be doing than that, she asked me the following: do I want to produce or consume? This sounds simple enough, but is very powerful. For social media, do you want to consume whatever the latest and greatest engagement-optimizing algorithm decides is worth your attention or rather engage in activities that are adding value, either to your own life or that of others? For checking the news, is it helpful to constantly check in on ongoing events and worrying about their outcomes?

What would I rather do instead? I have many hobbies that are in many countries considered for grannies, such as crochet, knitting, sewing, where I could actually be making stuff for myself or to gift to others. In addition, I love to play story-driven videogames, enjoying beautiful graphics, worlds, and rich stories. Though games are arguably more on the consuming side of things, it inspires me more than doomscrolling does. Finally, I remembered that I actually enjoy writing a lot. Not only professionally, but also on this very blog that I began while I was still a PhD. So here we are, with a short blog post after a century of blogging hiatus. My hopes and dreams for this blog are to produce content that has the potential to be helpful to others. To produce more and consume less.

One of the things I produced recently, Raven Queen Mitts. Pattern by Jacquline Rivera

I will wrap up this post with some more recommendations of things I enjoyed not too long ago, so that the title hopefully makes sense 🙂

I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments (hopes and dreams), but that might be too big of an ask 🙂 Whether you comment or not, I wish you a wonderful productive day!

Updated web page!

I finally took some time to update this website to hopefully showcase a bit more what I’ve recently been up to and what I’m currently working on. It was very much still focused on my PhD, since this was also the time I was last actively blogging. With this update, I am giving more of a thorough overview of all the things you’re expected to be awesome at in a tenure-track position.

Updating all this made me a little nostalgic for blogging actually. I have several thoughts about this:

  • Blogging is so 2016, I should just have an up-to-date web page and that’s fine!
  • I could totally write blogs about my first experience with virtual conference attendance last week, lessons learnt from my mid-term tenure-track evaluation, a EuroVis 2020 conference report focusing on medvis highlights…

It could really go either way!

Categorized as General

Updated my Publications Page

In a small attempt at blowing away the cobwebs in this website, I have updated my Publications page. I switched from manual updates (*shudder*) to the Papercite plug-in, which updates from a bibtex file stored in my Dropbox. I am in the process of adding PDF files for every single publication, and experiencing the joys of wading through publisher regulations to check what their conditions are for sharing post-prints.

In this regard, SHERPA/RoMEO has been very helpful. You simply look for a specific journal and see what they allow. For example, the Computers & Graphics journal published by Elsevier places a 24-month embargo on putting your post-print on open access repositories and institutional pages, but does allow author’s to put the accepted manuscript on their personal website or blog immediately. Yay for having a blog!

So here is a blog-exclusive, the PDF of our accepted paper ‘Real-time Field Aligned Stripe Patterns'[1] is now hosted on this very website! Another recent publication that I may have failed to mention here so far is our Survey on Multimodal Medical Visualization[2].

[1] [doi] N. Lichtenberg, N. Smit, C. Hansen, and K. Lawonn, “Real-time field aligned stripe patterns,” Computers & Graphics, vol. 74, p. 137–149, 2018.
title = {Real-time field aligned stripe patterns},
volume = {74},
issn = {0097-8493},
url = {},
doi = {10.1016/j.cag.2018.04.008},
abstract = {In this paper, we present a parameterization technique that can be applied to surface meshes in real-time without time-consuming preprocessing steps. The parameterization is suitable for the display of (un-)oriented patterns and texture patches, and to sample a surface in a periodic fashion. The method is inspired by existing work that solves a global optimization problem to generate a continuous stripe pattern on the surface, from which texture coordinates can be derived. We propose a local optimization approach that is suitable for parallel execution on the GPU, which drastically reduces computation time. With this, we achieve on-the-fly texturing of 3D, medium-sized (up to 70 k vertices) surface meshes. The algorithm takes a tangent vector field as input and aligns the texture coordinates to it. Our technique achieves real-time parameterization of the surface meshes by employing a parallelizable local search algorithm that converges to a local minimum in a few iterations. The calculation in real-time allows for live parameter updates and determination of varying texture coordinates. Furthermore, the method can handle non-manifold meshes. The technique is useful in various applications, e.g., biomedical visualization and flow visualization. We highlight our method{\textquoteright}s potential by providing usage scenarios for several applications.},
urldate = {2018-07-29},
journal = {{Computers \& Graphics}},
author = {Lichtenberg, Nils and Smit, Noeska and Hansen, Christian and Lawonn, Kai},
month = aug,
year = {2018},
keywords = {Computational geometry,, Computer graphics, Parameterization, Visualization},
pages = {137--149},
[2] [doi] K. Lawonn, N. Smit, K. Bühler, and B. Preim, “A Survey on Multimodal Medical Data Visualization,” Computer Graphics Forum, 2017.
title = {A {Survey} on {Multimodal} {Medical} {Data} {Visualization}},
doi = {10.1111/cgf.13306},
journal = {{Computer Graphics Forum}},
author = {Lawonn, Kai and Smit, Noeska and B{\"u}hler, Katja and Preim, Bernhard},
abstract = {Multimodal data of the complex human anatomy contain a wealth of information. To visualize and explore such data, techniques
for emphasizing important structures and controlling visibility are essential. Such fused overview visualizations guide
physicians to suspicious regions to be analyzed in detail, e.g. with slice-based viewing. We give an overview of state of the art
in multimodal medical data visualization techniques. Multimodal medical data consists of multiple scans of the same subject
using various acquisition methods, often combining multiple complimentary types of information. Three-dimensional visualization
techniques for multimodal medical data can be used in diagnosis, treatment planning, doctor-patient communication
as well as interdisciplinary communication. Over the years, multiple techniques have been developed in order to cope with
the various associated challenges and present the relevant information from multiple sources in an insightful way. We present
an overview of these techniques and analyze the specific challenges that arise in multimodal data visualization and how recent
works aimed to solve these, often using smart visibility techniques. We provide a taxonomy of these multimodal visualization applications
based on the modalities used and the visualization techniques employed. Additionally, we identify unsolved problems
as potential future research directions.
month = oct,
year = {2017},
url = {}

New video interview

Another day, another video interview 😉 This time about medical visualization and computer science in general for the University of Bergen, department of Informatics. Medical visualization is also an active research topic here in the recently established Mohn Medical Imaging and Visualization (MMIV) centre.

The video was produced by Joakim Birkelund, who did an absolutely amazing job with editing and camera-work.