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News Release 04-018

Looking at Science Through New Eyes:

NSF and AAAS Launch Second Visualization Challenge

February 13, 2004

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

ARLINGTON, Va.—Scientists generally aim to draw the “big picture” of a phenomenon using underlying patterns from disparate data. But that big picture more often than not emerges as a jumble of lines and dots on a graph, unintelligible to the average person, no matter how compelling the story it is supposed to tell.

To recognize excellence in using new media and established graphic arts to convey the excitement of scientific discovery, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), are cosponsoring the second annual Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.58 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions.

This international contest recognizes outstanding achievements by scientists, engineers, visualization specialists and artists who are innovators in using visual media to promote understanding of research results and scientific phenomena.

NSF and Science will appoint judges to chose winners in each of five categories: photographs, illustrations, graphics, interactive media and non-interactive media. All works must have been completed in the 2002 calendar year.

The judging will take place in two phases.

Scientists, engineers and other professionals from NSF and Science will conduct the semifinal round. The semifinals consist of two rounds and involve two separate groups of judges. The first group will assess the visual impact of a piece. The remaining entries will be judged in the second round on visual impact, innovation and accuracy. For more information, see the Judging Criteria at

Entries will be evaluated anonymously. The top 50 entries (10 in each category) with the highest overall scores will be designated semifinalists and will progress to the final phase of judging. In that round, a separate panel of distinguished judges representing a variety of fields will evaluate the 50 semifinal entries. Each judge will assign a numerical score. The sum of those scores will determine each entry's final score. The entry with the highest overall score in each category will be awarded the prize for that category.

Judges in the final round may select some entries for an honorable mention at their discretion.

Winners will be notified individually in August, before the public announcement of the official contest results.

The winners’ works will then be published in a special section of the Sept. 24, 2004 issue of Science and on Science Online, the magazine’s Web site. NSF will also publish the winner entries on its Web site:

Entries for this year’s contest may be submitted between Saturday, Feb. 7 and Monday, May 31. Detailed entry information may be found below and on the SEVC Web site. A series of Frequently Asked Questions are also answered on the site.

Contest details:

Submission Period:
Feb. 7, 2004 to May 31, 2004
Entries must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2004.

Publication of winning entries:
September 24, 2004

Send Entries to:
Scientific and Engineering Visualization Challenge
c/o National Science Foundation
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Room 1245
Arlington, VA 22230


Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7761, email:

Program Contacts
Susan Mason, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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