The IEEE VGTC VPG Doctoral Dissertation Award


DEADLINE: July 15, 2020 July 31, 2020

IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee (VGTC) sponsors the annual Best Doctoral Dissertation Award program to recognize outstanding academic research and development in visualization and visual analytics. The dissertations must address a topic relevant to visualization or visual analytics. The competition will be administered by the IEEE Visualization Pioneers Group (VPG) under the auspices of IEEE VGTC. The IEEE VGTC VPG Doctoral Dissertation Award is presented annually at the IEEE VPG Reception held at the IEEE VIS conference.


All English language dissertations that have been successfully defended between August 15 two years before the award and August 15 of the year of the competition are eligible (e.g. between August 15, 2018 and August 15, 2020) are eligible for the 2020 competition.


There is no limitation on the number of nominations that may be made by a university.


IEEE VPG members will form a review committee to thoroughly review and assess the dissertation submissions. The committee will judge the dissertations based on their intellectual merit, technical depth, and presentation quality. The selection committee will recommend the winning dissertation to the IEEE VGTC chair by October 1.


The winner of the IEEE VGTC VPG Doctoral Dissertation Award will receive a monetary prize of $500 provided by IEEE VGTC, but also a chance to describe the impact of the winning dissertation in an invited article that may be published in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications (CG&A). Professor Jim Foley of Georgia Tech and the editor of the CG&A Dissertation Impact Department will make the final determination about whether the article will be published. The CG&A Dissertation Impact Department recognizes the best and brightest dissertation work nominated by different visualization, computer graphics, and virtual reality technical communities from around the world.

Thesis Advisor(s) of the winning entrant will chair the following year’s Dissertation Review Committee, with full support from the VPG OC to handle details such as publicity and administration.


The student’s advisor should email the nomination package to The package must include:

  1. A nomination letter written by the student’s advisor, which includes:
    • the name, email address, and phone number of the advisor,
    • the name and email address of the candidate, and
    • a one-page summary of the significance of the dissertation (references to papers should be provided on an extra sheet)
  2. A copy of the dissertation.

Optional additional letters of recommendation can be attached to the submission.


A presentation from Stuart Card - Stanford University, The PhD Thesis Deconstructed or How to help students wandering in the land of the mind to work, finish, publish, become famous, win prizes, and reflect glory on their supervisors.

2019 RECIPIENTS (13 Nominations)

Best Dissertation: Dr. Nicola Pezzotti
Dissertation Title: Dimensionality-Reduction Algorithms for Progressive Visual Analytics
Affiliation: TU Delft, The Netherlands
Advisor: Professor Anna Vilanova

Honorable Mention: Dr. Kuno Kurzhals
Dissertation Title: Visual analytics of eyetracking and video data
Affiliation: University of Stuttgart, Germany
Advisor: Professor Daniel Weiskopf

Honorable Mention: Dr. Jun Wang
Dissertation Title: Visual Causality Analysis
Affiliation: Stony Brook University, USA
Advisor: Professor Klaus Mueller


2018 RECIPIENTS (13 Nominations)

Best Dissertation: Dr. Tobias Günther
Dissertation Title: Opacity Optimization and Inertial Particles in Flow Visualization
Affiliation: University of Magdeburg, Germany
Advisor: Professor Holger Theisel

Honorable Mention: Dr. Alice Thudt
Dissertation Title: Visualizations for Personal Reflection and Expression
Affiliation: University of Calgary, Canada
Advisor: Professor Sheelagh Carpendale

Honorable Mention: Dr. Robert Krüger
Dissertation Title: Visual Analytics of Human Mobility Behavior
Affiliation: University of Stuttgart, Germany
Advisor: Professor Thomas Ertl

2017 RECIPIENTS (9 Nominations)

Best Dissertation: Dr. Steve Kieffe
Dissertation Title: A Human-Centred Approach to Network Layout Algorithm Design
Affiliation: Monash University
Advisors: Professors Kim Marriott, Tim Dwyer and Michael Wybrow

Honorable Mention: Dr. Jagoda Walny
Dissertation Title: Thinking with Sketches: Leveraging Everyday Use of Visuals for Information Visualization
Affiliation: University of Calgary
Advisor: Professor Sheelagh Carpendale

2016 RECIPIENTS (12 Nominations)

Best Dissertation: Dr. Stef van den Elzen
Dissertation Title: Interactive Visualization of Dynamic Multivariate Networks
Affiliation: Eindhoven University of Technology
Advisor: Professor Jarke J. van Wijk
"This dissertation addresses a challenging problem in information and visual analytics, i.e., analyzing, visualizing and exploring temporal and multivariate networks. It describes innovative solutions with both technical rigor and high quality thesis presentation. Its outstanding contributions have been widely acknowledged by the visualization community."

Honorable Mention: Dr. Michael Krone
Dissertation Title: Interactive Visual Analysis of Biomolecular Simulations
Affiliation: University of Stuttgart
Advisor: Professor Thomas Ertl
"This dissertation presents a series of technical solutions to the common problems in interactive visualization of very large biomolecular structures. It is an outstanding piece of research in scientific visualization with significant impact to the application of bioinformatics. The organization and presentation of the dissertation is exceptional."

Honorable Mention: Dr. Danielle Nicole Albers Szafir
Dissertation Title: Utilizing Color for Perceptually-Driven Data Visualization
Affiliation: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Advisor: Professor Michael Gleicher
"This dissertation presents empirical studies on novel hypotheses in color perception in visualization. It represents the increasing interest and new discoveries in understanding the cognitive and perceptual aspects of visualization. It will have pervasive impact in all sub-fields of visualization."

2015 (14 Nominations)

Best Dissertation: Dr. Samuel Huron
Dissertation Title: Constructive Visualization: A Token-based Paradigm Allowing to Assemble Dynamic Visual Representation for Non-experts
Affiliation: University of Paris-Sud
Advisor: Professor Jean-Daniel Fekete

Honorable Mention: Dr. Eammon Maguire
Dissertation Title: Systematizing Glyph Design for Visualization
Affiliation: University of Oxford
Advisor: Professor Min Chen

Honorable Mention: Dr. Gabriel Mistelbauer
Dissertation Title: Smart Interactive Vessel Visualization in Radiology
Affiliation: Vienna University of Technology
Advisor: Professor Eduard Gröller

Honorable Mention: Dr. Jeremy Boy
Dissertation Title: Engaging the People to Look Beyond the Surface of Online Information Visualizations of Open Data
Affiliation: Telecom ParisTech
Advisor: Professor Jean-Daniel Fekete

2014 (13 Nominations)

Best Dissertation: Dr. Cheuk Horace Ip
Dissertation Title: Towards Data-Driven Large-Scale Scientific Visualization and Exploration
Affiliation: University of Maryland, College Park
Advisor: Professor Amitabh Varshney

Honorable Mention: Dr. Benjamin Bach
Dissertation Title: Connections Changes, and Cubes: Unfolding Dynamic Networks for Visual Exploration
Affiliation: University of Paris-Sud
Advisor: Professor Jean-Daniel Fekete

Honorable Mention: Dr. Jordan Crouser
Dissertation Title: Toward Theoretical Measures for Systems Involving Human Computation
Affiliation: Tufts University
Advisor: Professor Remco Chang

2013 (11 Nominations)

Best Dissertation: Dr. Alex Endert
Dissertation Title: Semantic Interaction for Visual Analytics: Inferring Analytical Reasoning for Model Steering
Affiliation: Virginia Tech
Advisor: Professor Chris North

Honorable Mention: Dr. Zhicheng Liu
Dissertation Title: Network-Based Visual Analysis Of Tabular Data
Affiliation: Georgia Tech
Advisor: Professor John Stasko

Finalist: Dr. Jaegul Choo
Dissertation Title: Integration of Computational Methods and Visual Analytics for Large-Scale High-Dimensional Data
Affiliation: Georgia Tech
Advisor: Professor Hansun Park

Finalist: Dr. Tiago Etiene
Dissertation Title: Towards the Theory and Practice of Verifying Visualizations
Affiliation: University of Utah
Advisor: Professor Claudio Silva