Communicating visually about communicating visually

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to run a workshop on science visualization with the wonderful Milena Gavala (right) of Curious G Design Studio. Under the rather unforgiving spotlights of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine's auditorium we spent about two and a half hours with grad students and postdocs from UCSD's Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment (CAICE).  They drew for us process diagrams of how to make toast, they sweated over design briefs for imaginary audiences ranging from high school students to grant funding agencies, they debated the merits of dual axis plots and discussed the challenges of conveying the most amount of information with the least amount of ink. Their eagerness and sense of humor made this all great fun, and because CAICE has 6 centers it seems we may be able to do more of this.  During the panel discussion that followed I got to meet a lawyer who was involved in the California Chrome 6 litigation and respectfully refrained from asking whether anyone played him in Erin Brockovich or if he got to meet Julia Roberts.