Geology 7200 - Fall 2014
Scientific Communication and Visualization
  Wednesday 12:30- 3:20 pm
E-207 Howe-Russell

Instructor: Prof. Barb Dutrow
    Rm 203 Howe-Russell Building (Old Geology)
    Office hours: 1:00 - 2:00 T-Th; or by appointment
    Class Home Page:

Required Text:
Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative (Tufte, 1997)
   Cognitive style of powerpoint (Tufte, electronic version)
    (these are available on amazon or through the Tufte website - - electronic versions available)

Highly Recommended Texts:
    The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd Ed. (Tufte, 2001)
    The Elements of Style (Strunk and White)    
    American Geological Institute - Geowriting (2005)


    Reading assignments should be completed prior to class. They are taken from recommended texts (Tufte, 1997) as well as 

    from peer-reviewed scientific literature. 

Goals: Students will acquire tools to analyze and present quantitative data using correct cognative techniques and styles to effectively communicate scientific topics; formulate an oral and poster presentation,  prepare a written, journal-appropriate research paper and a grant proposal.

Course Expectations:

Lecture Schedule
(Tentative - depending on hurricane season and class progress)

It is expected that the students have read the assignments prior to class for the background necessary to properly learn the content, apply the concepts addressed and ask questions for clarity.
Policy states that
for each hour you are in class, you should plan to spend at least two hours outside of class (preparing for the next class and completing homework).
 (lecture and activity)
Reading - to be completed prior to class
Assignments - due dates shown

Part I: Visualization of Scientific Data

Why do we visualize? Why is this important?
        Vision & Cognition  (notes)
(Dutrow absent, attending IMA)

READING: Do you see what I see?  Dutrow, 2007, Elements

Homework:  Due 10 Sept.
    1. Graphics in geologic literature. 
         Sumarize quantity, type, style per journal
     2. E-mail research topic to Dr. Dutrow by 8 Sept.

Quantitative Communication
Visual and Statistical Thinking
      Images, quantities, space

      History of Graphics; Escaping flatland

(Dutrow absent, attending IMA)
Read and be prepared for discussion:

Tufte (1997), Chpt. 1 and 2
- How is visualization used to convey information?

Develop place map for your thesis research topic. If no place, develop introductory figure.
 Introduction to the class  

Visual assessment/knowledge survey: Graphics in geo/scientific literature
    Discussion of homework
    Discussion of Reading assignments

Graphics as an observational tool (cf. analysis and presentation)

Analysis Graphics
Graphics Tools: data maps, images, diagrams, graphs, f(x,t), f(x,y,z,t) vector fields,  animation + df/dt, tensor fields, multivariate;  2D vs. 3D

Graphics Grammar; nouns/verbs e.g. physical boundaries vs. process

Problem solving by data analyses

Homework: Due 17 Sept. 
    Problem Set 1: Analyzing large data sets of heat transport near intrusives
(handed out in class)
Attend Wilbert Lecture

Discussion of Problem Set 1: analysis graphics homework

Presentation Graphics
Prior knowledge
       Apprehension Principle
    Design Strategies
        congruence principle
        graphic integrity, design density (maps), chartjunk,

        smallest effective difference
        Dos and don'ts
     Design types
         time-space narratives,
         small multiples

     Image processing & mischief (integrity)

     Deriving Meaning
            use and misuse  (Powerpoint)
            printers vs. computer screens

Software: Introduction to xmgrace

Discussion of place/introductory figure

Read and discuss: Tufte (1997) Chpt 4, 6,

EOS 73: Mar. 2, 1992 (Flat Venus society)

Examples of analysis and presentation graphics

Scan: Sevre et al. (2008) Visualization of tsunami waves....Visual  Geoscience.
Scan: Carlson et al. Electronic Geoscience (1999)

Homework: Due 24 Sept.
Problem Set 2: Presentation
graphics for  heat transport analyses



Understanding geologic phenomena  from quantitative graphics, visualization - discussion of  papers in literature

Discussion/ presentation of Problem Set 2: Presentation graphics

Data Resolution
     raster graphics (e.g. remote sensed data, hi resolution computing) 
     vector graphics

Bleeding Edge
hardware (CAVE,   I-Desk, I-WALL)
         parallel vis. real t vis, large data sets, virtual

Visualization and animations in geoscience
    Do they communicate?

    Examples of Netlogo modeling, perthite formation (bring portable to class), heat and mass transport animations of calculations.

     Desktop  visualization (AVS, tecplot, PV-WAVE, IBM explorer, etc.) 
     Intro to AVS;  Demo of AVS

Data from research - discussion
Read and discuss: Tufte (1997) Chpt 5


 Read/scan for discussion:Karki and Chennamsetty (06) Visual Geoscience

Bring data set of research materials to class, portable computer, if available.

Homework: Due 1 October
  Refine place map of research area using principles
learned to date


Presentation of refined graphics/map  for research

Quiz - Part I: Visual communication (1 hr)

Homework: Due 8 Octoberr

Problem Set 3: Analyze data sets from thesis research

 attend Wilbert Lecture -
Discussion of Problem Set 3: Analyze data sets from thesis research
                        Presentation graphics for research with class input

Part II: Scientific Communication - Technical Writing

    Target audience - Discussion of papers

    Journal Styles, Impact Factors, Form
  Discipline Specific Technical Writing vs.  Thesis Writing

Writing Constraints:

Titles, Introduction, Methods

Brainstorm points - Outline of Research Paper (in class)
Hand in redo of presentation graphics for research

Read: AGI style guide - chpt 1 - 3.

Read papers on carbon sequestration - designed for different target audiences.
Scientific American, Physics Today, Geology, Science; answer questions.

Homework: Due 15 October
    Find style guide for publication of choice
- print out for reference
Begin.writing Intro and Methods for thesis/research topic

Writing, Proofing, Reviewing, Revising:

   Results, Discussion and Interpretations (fact vs. fiction)

   Conclusions; References  

   Putting it all together:   Abstracts

        in class exercise on abstracts

Manuscript for scientific journal, rewrite, revise

    External Review of  Manuscripts

AGI style guide - Read chpts. 5-9

Homework: Due 29 October
Writing results/interpretation for thesis/research topic, abstract

Review words, figures, graphics, etc for class
Revise -

AGI style guide - Read chpts.  10 - 13

Read: Writing Reviews: chpt. 14 Geowriting

    GSA meeting  - refine graphics, edit papers


Grant Writing: GSA Style

Preparing for paper for publication 

Part III:  Oral Scientific Communication

Professional meetings, invited lectures, thesis defense
    Dealing with Anxiety
    Target Audience - Analyzing Audience,

     Planning Presentation - Stage 1

Read 11.12 AGI guide
continue analyzing data, developing

Chpt. 15-17  AGI; Preparing paper for publication:

Homework: Due 5 November
Writing grant application:

Revise research paper, abstract

AGI Chpt. 14, 15

Preparing oral presentation on research topic


Planning Presentation - Stage 2
        Brainstorming presentation - main points
           for oral presentation on research topic

Visual Aids for Oral Presentations:
     Graphics, Words, Content
         slide prep.
     Review of visuals/ graphic analyses  material

Preparing oral presentation tips
VI - Magic

Discussion: Cognitive Style of Powerpoint

Read: Congitive Style of Powerpoint (Tufte)

Read: handouts, Magic in Tufte R
Read Chpt. 7 AGI

Homework: Due 12 November
Preparing oral presentation on research topic


Student Practice - practice Oral Presentations  (2 hrs)
(AGU Style practice  judging by students) 

Edit oral presentation, continue working on paper

Homework: Due 19 November
Abstract of research project

Developing posters: Oral and Written Communication

Preparing, presenting Posters  -
 (Powerpoint, Illustrator)

Review of  Posters in department - field trip

Developing story board for posters: Poster Draft in class

Poster edit - in class - bring portable if desired


Homework: Due 26 November

Preliminary  poster due - print out on 8x11.5" paper
give to dutrow

 attend Wilbert Lecture - 


Thanksgiving holiday begins at noon

Optional class: working time, presentations, posters, papers

Bring any questions, etc. Prof. Dutrow will be available


ORAL Component: Oral presentations of selected research topics

15 min total
Oral Evaluations by All
Refer to Oral Rubric
 5 (Friday) 5pm
WRITTEN Component:
FINAL Paper Due- for research topic
; journal article formatting.
Refer to Writing Rubric
10 (Wed)
Final Exam
9:00 am
POSTER Presentations - 1+ hrs

5 min oral presentation with poster; encompasses all course components: written, speaking, visual communication

Poster Evaluation by All
Refer to Poster Rubric

last updated: December 5, 2014

Evaluation:  Based on presentations, research paper, mid-term exam,  assignments and quizzes, and class participation.
                    1. Exam 1 - 20%
                    2. Homework, quizzes, participation - 20%
                    3. Oral Presentation Final - 20 %
                    4. Poster Presentation Final - 15 %
                    5. Written Paper Final - 25%

 Code of Student Conduct: Louisiana State University is an interactive community in which students, faculty, and staff together strive to pursue truth, advance learning, and uphold the highest standards of performance in an academic and social environment. It is a community that fosters individual development and the creation of bonds that transcend the time spent within its gates.  To demonstrate my pride in LSU, as a member of its community, I will:

  1. accept responsibility for my actions;
  2. hold myself and others to the highest standards of academic, personal, and social integrity;
  3. practice justice, equality, and compassion in human relations;
  4. respect the dignity of all persons and accept individual differences;
  5. respect the environment and the rights and property of others and the University;
  6. contribute positively to the life of the campus and surrounding community;
  7.  and use my LSU experience to be an active citizen in an international and interdependent world.

The continued success of LSU depends on the faithful commitment by each community member to these, our basic principles.


There are two areas that we will be particularly alert for in this class:


(1) Plagiarism is an extremely serious violation of academic integrity. The Code of Student Conduct defines plagiarism as “the unacknowledged inclusion, in work submitted for credit, of someone else’s words, ideas, or data.” (8.1-C.6)  


Plagiarism can occur in a myriad of forms and media. Please refer to websites for additional details. We will also discuss in class.


Although most commonly associated with writing, all types of scholarly work, including computer code, music, scientific data and analysis, and electronic publications can be plagiarized. The aim of this section is to help students and faculty deal with the complex and important issue of plagiarism on campus.


(2) Copying - Copying from another student's test paper or assignment.



Students with disabilities: Louisiana State University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for all persons with disabilities. The syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request. If you are seeking classroom accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to register with the Disability Services (DS). DS is located in 115 Johnston Hall. Phone is 225/ 578-5919. To receive academic accommodations for this class, please obtain the proper DS forms and meet with me at the beginning of the semester.


Alcohol Policy (PS-67 Illegal Use of Drugs and Alcohol Misuse): Louisiana State University is committed to maintaining an environment which supports the research, teaching, and service mission of the University. Although the University respects an employee's right to privacy, the illegal use of drugs or alcohol within the University community interferes with the accomplishment of the University's mission.  Louisiana State Law prohibits the consumption, possession, distribution, possession with intent to distribute, or manufacture of drugs described as controlled dangerous substances in the Louisiana Revised Statutes 40:964; and other statutes define the illegal possession and/or use of alcohol.  As such, the Department has reaffirmed the University policy of alcohol-free and drug-free environment on University property at all times and in areas and at times and locations where an assembly of students and faculty would be viewed as representative of LSU (field trips and field camp property as both represent LSU).