Weekly Status Update #28: Paranymph

I skipped a weekly status update again last week, my blogging frequency really seems to be going downhill lately, sorry about that! But to make up for that, I’m back with fresh post this week, featuring: 3D interactive PDFs, a medvis colloquium, paranymph adventures, reunions and some game stuff too.

  •  In work-related news, besides working on the PacificVis reworkening (yes!), I was working on more 3D interactive PDFs. I make these as supplemental material for publications authored by my medical project partners from Leiden. At times, they have to explain complex 3D anatomy in their work and static images fail to convey the 3D situation accurately. That’s where these interactive 3D PDFs come in, we make them so that readers can check the anatomy from any angle they like. For those not familiar with  3D interaction, we provide pre-baked interesting views that they can select from a dropdown menu. The transitions between these predefined views are animated nicely as well. I will try to share the resulting PDFs when the article gets published 🙂
  • Because of the double PhD defense this week, we had international medvis experts over in Delft as committee members. They agreed to give two very interesting talks in a special edition colloquium last Thursday. Bernhard Preim presented a talk entitled ‘Visual Analytics in Cohort Study Data’ in which he described how visualization techniques and specifically visual analytics can be applied to the domain of epidemiology. Epidemiologists’ main goals are to identify risk factors that contribute to disease and to find the differences between healthy aging and early stage pathologies. To reach these goals, they use cohort studies, where they carefully select large groups of people to follow through time. This process generates a lot of data, because there are many subjects, many datasets, such as MRI scans, per subject and additionally there is a lot of derived data available. Bernhard’s talk discussed visualization techniques to provide hypothesis generation support into these large datasets. After his talk, Jos Roerdink presented ‘Brain Patterns: Prediction of Neurodegenerative Diseases’. In this presentation, Jos discussed the use of FDG PET scans to identify Parkinsonisms (Parkinson-like diseases). The different diseases create different patterns in the PET scans and in his work, Jos used a scaled subprofile model (SSM) on the scans, followed by principal component analysis (PCA) to find these patterns. Using these principal component features, they built a decision tree to classify the scans. The goal of the work is  to associate brain patterns to various types and stages of neuro-degenerative disease. In the end of the talk, Jos made an interesting remark regarding the irony of big data and visualization, I didn’t write down the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of ‘The data is too large to look at, so we want visualizations of it’.
  • On Friday, we had the day of the double PhD defenses. As I mentioned last time, I was a paranymph for the first defense, Peter Kok defending his thesis ‘Integrative Visualization of Whole Body Molecular Imaging Data‘. As a paranymph, you get to sit in front of the candidate during the defense and read out propositions when asked by the committee. I have to say it is a bit awkward to sit there for an hour, while not being able to look at the thesis defender while he is talking. To add to the complexity of maintaining a serious face, one of my former co-worker audience members kept making hilarious faces at me. At least I got to wear a nice long dress and black iridescent feathers in my hair ;).  For the second defense, Stef Busking defending his work ‘Visualization of Variation and Variability‘, I was able to enjoy it from the audience perspective, which is a bit more relaxed. In any case, both did a great job and it was great to be there to see them achieve this big milestone in their lives. Congratulations to both again, if they happen to be reading!
  • Another benefit of this double defense week, is that we got to enjoy a small reunion of a subset of former members of the graphics group coming together. I was very excited to see my former supervisor, inspirational blog-writer and all-round awesome person and his former roomy again for this occasion. I did not enjoy saying goodbye to all these awesome people again so much, but hopefully it was not a farewell, but more of a see you soon.
  • In the Nintendo 3DS gaming department, I am still playing ‘Animal Crossing: New Leaf’. I can’t believe how addicted I am to watering flowers and digging up fossils daily, but I have got some more news. I got ‘Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward’ (of which the literal translation of the original title is festively entitled: ‘Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die’) as a birthday gift last week, so I couldn’t help but get the predecessor ‘999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors’. I am very excited to play both of these critically acclaimed games. Furthermore, a friend brought my attention that ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked’ is on sale in the European Nintendo eShop. I enjoyed  Persona 4 on Playstation 2 so much, I can’t wait to give this a try as well. Plenty to play during the holidays 🙂 It seems that all these games, however, are in a serious competition for longest game titles evar.

Wow, that turned into a right wall of text, sorry about that as well! Enjoy your Sunday and week!

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