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Portfolio of the Week – Nadieh Bremer

An Astronomer-turned-Data-Scientist-turned-self-taught-Data-Visualization-Designer.

November 16, 2015

It’s a pleasure to be back with another young visualization designer in this featured Portfolio section of Visualoop . Better yet, as she describes herself in our gallery, “an Astronomer-turned-Data-Scientist-turned-self-taught-Data-Visualization-Designer passionate about innovative Data Visualization and Data Art.”.

With you, Nadieh Bremer:

“I was always fascinated by design and art, I even wanted to become a painter just like my granddad when I was five. But in the end it took me some time and a bit of a detour to come into contact with the world of data visualization.”

“I was born 1987 in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, but I grew up in Almelo (the eastern part). Ever since I did a presentation on the Solar System in school when I was 10 years old, I was hooked on the stars. To be honest, I think the beautiful photos from Hubble were the first main reason, but I also became fascinated by all of the amazing feats of nature that can be found out there beyond our Earth. After graduating high school, where I found out I loved math and nuclear physics, the choice for University was very easy: I went to Leiden University where I received a Master’s degree in Astronomy in 2011. “

“I knew I didn’t want to do a PhD, I loved the research but hated the writing and I wanted to do something more dynamic, tangible. But I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I check out a lot of companies. At the analytics department at Deloitte consulting I found my match where I could still work with data to find insights, rotating to another assignment every few weeks. It was here that I, still unconsciously, started to find out that even though I loved doing analytics, I loved the visualization of the data or insights found even more. I could spend hours perfecting a graph, whereas my enthusiasm for improving an analytical model was there, but less than for doing the visualization. I was already experimenting with D3 a bit during this time, but it wasn’t anything fancy.”

“Then in November 2014 I went to the Strata Conference in Barcelona, where I watched a (great) talk by Mike Freeman on data visualization. I still remember very clearly the moment where it hit me. Mike called himself a “Data Visualization Specialist” on his starting slide. I didn’t even know that existed, but I knew immediately that I wanted to be able to name myself that one day as well! And from that day on I consciously started with data visualization. Every moment of my free time I spend on learning: reading all the must-read books, doing tutorials and truly starting my blog where I could show personal projects and tutorials.”

“In March 2015 I entered my second visualization competition, about visualizing the impact of urbanization in East-Asia, organized by & the Worldbank. I spend hours and hours on my entry, and I couldn’t get myself to check out the competition because I knew I would become depressed by all of the wonderful things other people had created. So when I found out I actually won the competition I was so overjoyed! It gave me the confidence that perhaps I could really have something to contribute to the world of Data Visualization.”

“And now, only a year after my “revelation” I am still just as enthusiastic about the topic as I was then and working many evenings and weekends on creating new projects or acquiring new skills, I still have so much to learn. Eventually I hope 100% of my day job will consist of data visualization as well :)”

Here are the works Nadieh shared with us. Click through the images to explore in detail:

Urbanization in East Asia – Millions of People on the Move | Nadieh Bremer

My winning entry to the “Visualizing Urban Expansion in East Asia” challenge organized by the World Bank and The interactive version takes you through a narrative about the impacts of Urbanization in almost 900 cities in East Asia between 2000 and 2010.


Food Poisoning – The Culprits | Nadieh Bremer

The data in this Infographic represents restaurant-associated foodborne outbreaks reported in England and Wales from 1992 to 2009. The outbreaks have been split first by their pathogen, toxin and virus. These have been represented by an approximate shape of the actual pathogen when one was available. Within the ‘culprit’ the outbreaks have been split by cuisine type, where the area of the circle represents the number of outbreaks

I created this infographic as an entry for the Information is Beautiful Awards challenge about “Food Poisoning” where it was chosen as one of the 11 shortlisted static designs.


Traffic Accidents versus possible Influential Factors | Nadieh Bremer

Combining the number of traffic accidents in the Netherlands in 2013 with possible influential factors: the amount of rain, the number of daylight hours, holidays and weekend/weekday snow days. The 5 days with the largest number of accidents have been given separate annotations. It was inspired by a project at work where we were trying to use open data to find correlations between them and our clients data.


Switching between Phone brands | Nadieh Bremer

I know from experience how difficult it can be to explain a Chord Diagram to somebody who has never seen one before. Therefore, I wanted to build this piece up by using a storytelling like approach. I tried to set up the Chord diagram piece by piece, explaining what each section means. The outer arc, the one chord, multiple chords, one whole section of arc and finally end with the chord diagram as we usually see it; all chords present with hover effects


The art in Pi | Nadieh Bremer

These plots investigate the art that is hidden in the digits of the number pi. Each digits defines a certain step direction & color which can be read from the circular legend at the top, each step has the same length. The result is a path “walked” by pi. These plots show the paths from 100 to 1000 digits, followed by the next version that shows the steps from 1000 – 1 million digits.


Exoplanets | Nadieh Bremer

After my first venture into the “Storytelling with Data” with a Chord Diagram I wanted to created another piece where everything is already introduced at the start but where the audience has the option to be taken through an introduction if they want to. I felt that planets orbiting a star was intuitive enough to not intimidate people when they first view the page and see 400 exoplanets starting to move, but instead be captured by the movement and wanting to know more

This project took quite some time. Getting the elliptical calculation of the orbits, the gradients of each planet to rotate with their orbit so it appears as if the Star in the middle is shining, but also all of the Storytelling steps. But as an astronomer it was a lot of fun combining data visualization with the subject I spend 5 years on in University.


The 10 most popular baby names per year since 1880 | Nadieh Bremer

This visualization shows the top 10 most popular baby names for both boys and girls in the US since 1880. You can search for a specific name, or use the brushing small chart at the bottom to adjust the time frame. Or if you’re lazy, just put on a loop and watch the plot zoom in to a different name from every few seconds. Below the chart is a piece of text highlighting several interesting insights that can be seen in more than 100 years of history


The Dutch Top 2000 Songs | Nadieh Bremer

From Christmas day to 23:59 on New Year’s Eve the radio is on 24/7 listening to the Top 2000, which is an annual radio show of the Dutch station NPO Radio 2. It was first aired in 1999. During the week before the new year the 2000 most popular songs ever are played. This top 2000 is determined by internet votes of the listeners in the weeks prior to Christmas

While listening, I became curious about the distribution of these 2000 songs according to their year of release. When I couldn’t find anything on Radio 2’s website, I came up with the idea of creating a histogram that looks a bit like an equalizer.


You can keep up with the latest projects by Nadieh on our gallery, and don’t forget to follow her blog VisualCinnamon.

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.