Poster child for science communication

Kristin Timm’s effort to create a background image for a scientific workshop evolved into an award-winning poster about links between glaciers and the ocean this year.

The poster earned the 33-year-old UAF designer a Vizzie — one of the awards in the 2015 Visualization Challenge sponsored by Popular Science magazine and the National Science Foundation. The figure, “From Icefield to Ocean,” was published in the March 2015 issue of Popular Science and can be viewed on the Popular Science website.

Timm is the communications lead for the Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning, a group in the International Arctic Research Center. She’s been on the job for just over a year, after having earned an undergraduate degree in rural development in 2004 and then a master’s in science communication in 2014, both at UAF. In between her degrees, she worked for the Fairbanks-based Arctic Research Consortium of the United States.

Timm’s winning poster didn’t start out as a poster.

“I was originally working with scientists to create a background for a talk at a workshop,” she said. “After the workshop, it was clear that people were really interested in seeing the pieces of the puzzle put together in one illustration.”

So she created a version for a peer-reviewed publication, then other people encouraged her to make it into a poster.

click for expanded view

Timm said she’d heard of the Vizzies the previous year, but hadn’t felt she had anything worth entering. For this year’s competition, though, she decided to enter the poster.

It won the People’s Choice award.

The Vizzies recognize some of the best scientific photos, videos, posters and illustrations produced each year. There were more than 300 entries in the competition. Readers voted online for the People’s Choice award.

In creating the poster, Timm worked with glaciologists Shad O' Neel, from the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Science Center, and Eran Hood, from the University of Alaska Southeast. She also worked with ecologist Allison Bidlack, from the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center. The work was supported by the Interior Department's Alaska Climate Science Center.

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