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Elite research travel grant to Marius Hogräfer

Congratulations to PhD student Marius Hogräfer who has been awarded the elite research travel grant (EliteForsk-rejsestipendium) from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. The prestigious grant of DKK 200.000 will be used for Marius’ stay-abroad at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Marius Hogräfer from the Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction Group has been awarded a prestigious travel grant from the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, and will be celebrated at an official ceremony on August 10. Marius will use the grant to visit Adam Perer’s research group - Data Interaction Group - at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh.

Marius' research is within in area of visual analytics, and he researches how to find relevant information in large data sets. This will also be the focus, during the stay-abroad at CMU, where Marius will be working with some of the founders of his field of research.

“During my stay-abroad, I look will look into ways of finding out, what data people are interested in when they explore visualizations of large datasets. The aim is that we automatically can focus the analytic computation on similar data and guide people towards interesting regions in the visualization that they have overlooked. The overarching goal is to make visual analytics more efficient and less intrusive,” says Marius Hogräfer, and continues “I am very honoured to receive the Elite research travel grant as it allows me to meet and work with some of the world’s best experts within my field of research at Carnegie Mellon. I look forward to inspiring conversations, and I hope to learn about new, alternative accesses to research in a completely new work environment.”

Due to COVID-19, Marius started his stay-abroad online. However, he hopes to visit CMU physically in the fall, given that restrictions allow for it.

In connection with the awarding the Elite research travel grant, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science talked to Marius about his research.

 

Research institution: Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction Group, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University

Subject area: Visual Analytics.

Title of research project: In-Situ steering for progressive visual analytics.

What is your PhD project about? 

One of the major challenges today is to find meaning in the terabytes of data we collect each day. One option is to use graphics to visualise the data. Compared to machines, humans have the advantage of finding patterns in points and rectangles, and we can interpret them with our knowledge of data. However, with the use of algorithms, computers with algorithms are much faster at this, but they are still not fast enough for large datasets or complex algorithms. In my PhD project, I investigate possibilities for the computer to learn about the data a user is interested in, in order to focus the calculations on only the data, which is important. The purpose is to find meaning in our data faster, instead of waiting hours for calculations on complete data sets.

How did your interest in your research field begin? And, what motivates you?

During my Master’s degree programme at the Technical University of Dresden, I became very interested in data, and how people can interpret them by visual representations. In 2019, I moved to Aarhus. Here, I conduct research and develop opportunities for efficient analyses of large datasets with the help of scatter plots, bar charts and maps. I think that the biggest problem in working life is that people often sit and wait for their computer. Therefore, my biggest motivation in my work is that I want to give people the opportunity to be happy to explore their data again.

 

What are the research-related challenges and perspectives of your project?

There are many challenges in presenting data for people, and in my project, I approach them from three perspectives. First, is the visualisation perspective: How can we show interesting data to people and at the same time express that the data is not complete, and progress is not homogeneous in all regions of data? Second, is the user perspective: How can we find out which data people are interested in at all, even when they do not know at the start of their study? Thirdly, is the algorithm perspective: How can we provide more data that are relevant to people when we know this? You could say that in my project, I deal with many facets of visual analysis, and I am very fascinated by it.

 

What does an EliteForsk travel grant mean for your future opportunities?

I believe that international collaboration with other researchers is the best way to conduct research today. Moreover, personal contact is the basis for close and trustful collaboration. The grant gives me the opportunity to work with a research group at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the USA, which is one of the founders of my field of research. I look forward to inspiring conversations, and I hope to learn about new, alternative accesses to research in a completely new work environment. In addition, the EliteForsk travel grant allows me to focus 100 percent on my research.

 

A little about the person behind the researcher?

I am German and grew up in a small village 30 kilometres north of Frankfurt am Main in the heart of Germany. I moved to Denmark in 2019 to start my PhD, and at that time I started running outside, regardless of whether it was raining or windy. In the summer, I like to cycle around the West coast of Jutland, because I want to learn more about Denmark’s nature, history and culture. In the winter, I play board games and enjoy spending time with my friends.