Welcome to Visualization and Graphics Lab (VGL) at the University of San Francisco!

We are a group of faculty and students that meet regularly to discuss and work on research in the data visualization and graphics fields. Learn more about us, our latest news, papers, current projects, relevant courses, and upcoming events.

Learn More »

Students, interested in data visualization research? We sponsor directed studies for both undergraduate and graduate computer science students. However, we ask that you are willing to make a 2 semester commitment. If you are interested, please contact us for details.

Latest News

We will be offering the following courses during the Spring 2017 semester:

  • CS 360 Data Visualization
    Sophie Engle • MWF 2:15pm–3:20pm • LS 307

  • CS 486/686 Special Topics: Human Computer Interaction
    Beste Yuksel • TR 12:45pm–2:30pm • LS 307

As usual, you may also approach any of us to participate in a directed study if you are interested in visualization research.

Posted November 28, 2016 by Sophie Engle

The Department of Computer Science is now hiring for two Assistant Professor positions: a tenure-track position (heavier research load) and a full-time renewable position (heavier teaching load). All CS sub-disciplines will be considered!

The @USFCS department is a diverse and growing community with 10 full-time faculty members, over 200 undergraduate CS majors, and over 50 masters students. While we are growing, the CS department maintains small class sizes with 30 or fewer students, project-based learning, and a high degree of student-teacher interaction. Several faculty members are NSF funded and collaborate with institutions in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Posted October 20, 2016 by Sophie Engle

Our poster "Interactive Exploration of Multidimensional YouTube Data Using the GPLOM Technique" by Seimei Matsusaki, Xi Han, Alark Joshi, and Sophie Engle won the Best Poster Award at the 9th International Symposium on Visual Information Communication and Interaction (VINCI)!

Check out the poster, the abstract, or the live tool!

Posted September 26, 2016 by Sophie Engle

ACM will kick off their first talk of the ACM speaker series on September 15th at 11:45am in G12. Kan is an expert in the field of exploratory data analysis and the talk is aimed for all computer science students. Please mark your calendars. Pizza will be provided before the talk so come early!


Introduction to Fast Exploratory Data Analysis Experience with R and Visualization


R is arguably the best analytics platform in the world that is open-source with more than 9000 packages and is growing rapidly. But it's hard to start and be productive if you are not programmers. Exploratory ( is a desktop app that provides a simple and easy to use interactive data exploration environment where users can quickly access R's analytic power and visualization to explore various data ranging from files, databases, to NoSQL, and find valuable insights in a reproducible and collaborative way.


Kan Nishida (@KanAugust), co-founder/CEO of Exploratory. Prior to Exploratory, Kan has 20 years of experience in building products and solutions in Big Data, Analytics, BI, and Data Visualization fields, at Oracle.

Posted September 07, 2016 by Sophie Engle

The Visualization and Graphics Lab is looking to hire one research assistant for the Fall 2016 semester. This is an on-campus job opportunity open to both undergraduate and graduate students.


The duties for the research assistant will be as follows:

  • Assisting with the coding and analysis necessary on any of the active research projects in the lab. This includes work on visualization aesthetics and literacy, cluster heatmaps, and others.

  • Assisting with the design of user studies to evaluate the efficiency and accuracy of specific visualization tasks.

  • Assisting with one-on-one expert user studies.

  • Assisting with writeups of user study results in preparation for publication.

Students should expect to work a minimum of 10 hours per week. If the research is successful, students will be invited to be a co-author on related publications.


Current undergraduate (or graduate) students may apply for the position, but must already be proficient in object-oriented programming. Most undergraduate CS majors, CS minors, and computational Data Science majors that have passed both CS 212 and CS 245, or graduates that have passed CS 601 will qualify, but others can apply too.

Strong applicants will also have some familiarity with data visualization. This includes students that take visualization-focused sections of CS 384/694 Research Seminar, CS 398/498/698 Directed Reading and Research, and CS 386/686 Special Topics in CS. It also includes students that take CS 360 Data Visualization.

We are looking for students who know or are willing to learn JavaScript and D3 and who would ideally have created basic data visualizations (bar charts, scatterplots, etc.) before they begin the research assistant position.

Applicants should also be interested in continuing the research project beyond a single semester, either in a paid position or as a directed study opportunity. Applicants must be detail-oriented self-motivated independent workers with excellent written and oral communication skills.

Email your 1 page cover letter and 1 to 2 page resume by September 16th in PDF form to with the subject "VGL Research Assistant Position" to be considered. In your cover letter, indicate you are applying for the research assistant position and highlight your qualifications.

We have multiple open positions. Please apply for only 1 position and indicate this position in your cover letter.

Posted September 06, 2016 by Sophie Engle

View all news posts. ]