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Olivia Vane

PhD Work

Using Data Visualisation to make sense of Cultural Data

As museums, libraries and archives digitise their physical holdings – images, objects, texts – the resulting volume of data can be difficult to make sense of, or present. This PhD explores how representing that data visually can make it more accessible, understandable and ultimately usable.


  • PhD


    School of Design


    Innovation Design Engineering, 2015–2019

  • Olivia's work explores interactive data visualisation and cultural data. She has worked with institutions including the V&A Museum, Wellcome Library and Smithsonian.

  • Degrees

  • MSci. Natural Sciences (First Class), University of Cambridge, 2013; BA (Hons) Natural Sciences (First Class), University of Cambridge, 2012
  • Experience

  • Research placement, V&A Museum, London, 2018; Smithsonian Fellow, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York City, 2017; Research intern, Microsoft Research, Cambridge, 2016
  • Exhibitions

  • 'Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color', Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York City, 2018-19; 'Design Research Evolution': London Design Festival, Royal College of Art, London, 2018
  • Awards

  • Creative Prize at Science Museum Digital Lab Hackathon London, 2017; Best Paper Award at Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, 2016; Winning team at Microsoft Research, //oneweek Microsoft Hackathon, 2016; Bundy Scholarship for examination performance, 2013; Gill Prize for Natural Sciences, 2013; Senior Scholarship, Magdalene College Cambridge, 2012; Keilin Prize for Natural Sciences, 2012
  • Conferences

  • Davis, S.B., Kräutli, F., Cottrell, S. and Vane, O. (2016) Designing Histories of Design: Critical Chronographics. In Design History Society Conference 2016
  • Publications

  • O. Vane, Text Visualisation Tool for Exploring Digitised Historical Documents, ACM SIGCHI Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2018), 2018; O. Vane, Using Data Visualisation to tell Stories about Cultural Collections, ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017), 2017; S. B. Davis, O. Vane and F. Kräutli, Using Data Visualisation to tell Stories about Collections, Electronic Visualisation and the Arts Conference (EVA 2016), 2016