The recipient of the 2017 award for the best doctoral dissertation completed at a Canadian university in the field of Human-Computer Interaction is Dr. Michael Glueck.
His dissertation, Ontology-based Context in Visualizations to Facilitate Sensemaking: Case Studies of Phenotype Comparisons, explores the development of visualization technologies, with a particular focus on improving the understanding of very large data sets using ontologies. Particularly striking is the analytical framework he applies to underlying data, enabled by ontologies, and the understanding that framework provides. This had a dual impact: it produced tools that have been used to conduct and publish scientific work by clinicians and scientists, which has helped advance knowledge in fields such as neuroscience; more importantly, it made a series of important advances in the state of the art for information visualization and HCI.
The tools that Glueck developed support a variety of novel visualization techniques using ontologies that explicitly formalize domain knowledge as concepts, entities, and relations. Ontologies are represented by directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) to aid in sensemaking by visualizing data in the context of domain knowledge. The tools enable real-time data entry. A variety of structured representations facilitate comparison and interpretation of patterns and trends in the data. Three case studies with medical domain experts who study phenotypes in genetic diseases produced visualizations that aligned well with the mental models of domain experts, providing evidence of the value of an ontology-based approach.
Michael Glueck completed his doctorate in computer science at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Wigdor and Dr. Fanny Chevalier. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science were also earned at the University of Toronto and his master’s thesis (“A Model of Navigation for Very Large Data Views”)
was supervised by Dr. Wigdor. He received a Michael A. J. Sweeney “best paper” award for a co-authored HCI paper at the Graphics Interface conference in 2013, a best paper award and an honorable mention award for two papers at the ACM CHI 2016 conference, and an honorable mention for a paper at the IEEE VIS (VAST) conference in 2017. During his research he worked at Autodesk Research, where he is currently a Principal Research Scientist.
Michael is the first academic great-grandchild of Bill Buxton’s to win the Best Canadian HCI Dissertation Award. (Daniel Vogel, an academic grandchild of Bill Buxton’s and Michael’s academic uncle, received the award the first year it was offered.)
Funding from an anonymous donor established this award in 2011 in honour of Bill Buxton, a Canadian researcher, designer, and musician who has done much to promote excellence in the field of Human-Computer Interaction, both within Canada and internationally. Bill challenges how academics and practitioners think, and he inspires them to do things differently. He is a true advocate for Human-Computer Interaction.
The award is determined through a juried process by a selection committee consisting of accomplished researchers in Human-Computer Interaction. This year, the jury was Dr. Parmit Chilana (Simon Fraser University), Dr. Tony Tang (University of Calgary), and Dr. Carl Gutwin (University of Saskatchewan) who facilitated the process.