About Dr. Byrd>



Dr. Byrd is an assistant professor of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) and Director of the Byrd Visualization Laboratory in the Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Byrd, an “Agent of Insight,” has shown exemplary leadership in broadening participation in data visualization, and in fostering an atmosphere of cooperation and creativity that contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of her peers.


Data visualization skills are becoming a prerequisite for a STEM-literate workforce and as such, there is a growing need for persons with the capacity to visually represent complex data in ways that inform without overwhelming. Despite its far reaching impact, and the need for creative solutions to solve increasingly complex data problems there is a lack of diversity in the field of data visualization. Dr. Byrd’s leadership addresses this problem at the departmental, college, and university levels, and in the visualization community with national and international promise.

Click the links below to learn how Dr. Byrd demonstrates leadership:

Leadership within Purdue

Dr. Byrd’s exemplary leadership in broadening participation in data visualization, and in her scholarship is evident by the atmosphere of cooperation and creativity that she promotes. Dr. Byrd joined Purdue University in August 2015 bringing with her years of experience using her craft and celebrity as an African American woman in STEM to inform, empower and mentor others and encourage women and members of underrepresented groups to consider visualization as major course of study and career option. Her work lays the groundwork for a more STEM-literate workforce through visualization capacity building among women and members of underrepresented groups. As a visionary she recognizes the importance of data visualization across all disciplines and has created and spearheaded two initiatives designed to broaden participation in visualization. During her two-year tenure at Purdue, the Department of Computer Graphics Technology approved a new undergraduate major in data visualization and she has been instrumental in contributing to curriculum development for the new major. Dr. Byrd also collaborates with Liberal Arts faculty to develop interdisciplinary courses that support the integration of data visualization capacity building into the undergraduate academic learning experience.

Dr. Byrd is the epitome of professionalism and favorable representation of her department (Computer Graphics Technology), The Polytechnic Institute and the University both on and off campus. At Purdue she gives invited talks on data visualization as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program, and serves as a faculty mentor in the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP). Earlier this year she joined Dean Gary Bertoline as an invited speaker on the Purdue University YouTube Channel sharing information about the data visualization major and CGT for potential Boilermakers. She hosts hands-on visualization workshops as part of the Polytechnic’s Summer Diversity Camps: Communicating Leadership and Advancing Innovation for Minorities in Technology (CLAIMiT) and Windows of Opportunity for Women in Technology (WOWiT) introducing data visualization to potential students and their families.


In 2017, Dr. Byrd was an invited panelist featuring Purdue women in STEM at Purdue University’s Black Cultural Center, for a discussion after the film screening of the movie “Hidden Figures.”  Dr. Byrd was an invited panelist for Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) Aspire to Lead 2016 event hosted at Purdue University. The campus event was part of PWC’s Aspire to lead webcast where viewers heard Geena Davis, Award-winning actor and Founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, give an inspirational keynote speech on the empowerment and advancement of women, followed by a robust panel discussion with Geena as well as Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Academy Award nominee and director, and Peter Yobo, PwC US Advisory Senior Associate, where they examined the parallels between gender portrayals in the media, the role of women in the workplace, and discussed how men and women can take action to support gender equality.


Inspiring Tomorrow's Leaders

Dr. Byrd’s commitment to launching tomorrow’s leaders in data visualization extends beyond the Purdue University campus. Off campus, Dr. Byrd is a sought after invited speaker for local, national, and international requests for talks, workshops and panels with favorable reviews from participants. She was an invited panelist for Greater Lafayette’s First Black History Celebration of African-Americans in STEM at Imagination Station.

She is an invited trainer for the Extreme Science Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) Workshop sponsored by Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA), a consortium of 63 universities in the United States and 1 in Canada. Just recently she is an invited speaker for the upcoming Liberal Arts Data Science Workshop, January 12-13, 2018 at New College in Sarasota, Florida on “Educating Data-Literate Citizens.” The “Diversity in Visualization” panel she served on at the 2017 IEEE Vis Conference was voted best panel for the conference.

In June 2018, Dr. Byrd will host the 3rd Biennial BPViz Workshop. The workshop, funded by Computing Research Association (CRA) and the NSF funded Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science (CADENS) Project led by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, is open to all persons, specifically women and persons historically underrepresented in data visualization. The two-day workshop provides mentoring, networking, scholarly discussions with experts in the field, and hands-on training in data visualization. Past participants have included undergraduate and graduate students, junior and senior faculty, research scientists, artists, and administrators.


National Service as Leadership

Dr. Byrd’s active national service to academic and professional organizations is equally impressive. Nationally, Dr. Byrd is a sought after invited speaker for data visualization training. She is a frequently invited data visualization trainer for The Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA). This summer she was unanimously nominated by her peers at the 2017 Gordon Research (GRC) Conference on Visualization in Science and Education to serve as co-Vice Chair of the 2019 Conference and subsequent co-Chair in 2021. The GRC is a highly competitive and respected conference in the visualization community that limits participation to 80 applicants. She is currently serving as vice-Chair of the 2017 Supercomputing Visualization Data Analytics Showcase with the expectation of serving as Chair in 2018. Internationally she has been an invited speaker for the highly competitive International High Performance Computing Summer School (2015 – 2017) providing hands-on scientific visualization training to the brightest graduate students across the world. She is currently serving on the Program Committee for the 3rd International Conference of the IEEE Special Technical Community on Broadening Participation (RESPECT) 2018.


Leadership on a Global Scale

Dr. Byrd’s commitment to engagement at the local, state, national and global levels continues to grow. At the national and global levels, Dr. Byrd has established a web presence in the visualization community that allows her to share her craft with a broader audience through webinars that are open to the public and viewable online. In March of 2017 she gave the first webinar (currently available online) for the Blue Waters Visualization Webinar Series. Blue Waters, hosted by NCSA, is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world with users across the United States. The webinar, to-date, is one of the top viewed webinars in the series.  The webinar resulted in additional invitations to give domain specific visualization webinars at other universities (UC Davis) and email from non-Purdue colleagues who watched the webinar saying they are using the recorded webinar to introduce data visualization to their classes. Dr. Byrd has participated as an invited guest in the OpenNASA Datanauts webinar series, “Water Cooler Chats” where she introduced data visualization to the Datanauts cohort of young women interested in STEM.