env.infohackit 2016/17 Plymouth

Who: The PhD students who joined us all came from a Marine Biology background and attended Plymouth University and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. They were supported by DTPs and CDTs including EnvEast, GW4+ and SPITFIRE. Design students from Plymouth College of Arts and Plymouth University joined in alongside local freelance creative Stephen Prior. env.infohackit Plymouth was funded by NERC.
When: December 6, 2016
Where: Plymouth, UK

After their amazing Adobe Illustrator training session the previous day, our PhD environmental scientists were well-prepared for env.infohackit 2016/17 Plymouth on December 6, 2016. The students arrived at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory ready to be put into teams with creatives and keen to get started on creating infographics to communicate scientific research. This would be no small feat as the team members would have to combine all their efforts and work in unison to produce clear, compelling graphics that made complex topics easy to understand.

After a brief introduction, the teams got going, powering through the 12-hour hackathon and creating mind-blowing graphics. Tea, coffee, snacks and pizza aided the team members in their These would be judged at the end of the day by a panel comprising Thecla Keizer (Head of Marketing at Plymouth Marine Laboratory), James Brocklehurst (Programme Leader of Graphic Communication at Plymouth University ) and Nicholas Higgs (Deputy Director of the Marine Institute, Plymouth). The judges had a tough time choosing from the six compelling entries, but only one team would emerge as the victor.

The teams and the graphics

Alien Invaders (winning team)

PhD Researchers: Kirsty McQuaid, Cecilia de Castro, Lewis Sampson
Creative: Sarah Fitzpatrick, Sophie Niman

Team Alien Invaders won this round of env.infohackit with their amazing Space Invaders-inspired graphic about invasive species. This infographic is a great example of the power of simplicity in communicating complex topics. By using pixellated imagery and fonts, the graphic pulls together individual components through a coherent style.

The portrait format is well-suited for mobile devices, but the graphic can also be presented in different orientations, making for a versatile end product. The sea imagery forming the background of the visuals ensures the information flows effectively and guides the reader’s eye through the data.


Loud and Clear

PhD Researchers: Svenja Tidau, Adam Rees, Jacob Bedford, Sara Mynott
Creative: Megan Fitzsimmons

This team used an appealing layout with muted blue and purple tones to communicate the impact of human noise pollution on sealife. Using circles to signify the journey of sound, the graphic is split into clear segments dedicated to the different sea creatures affected by the noise produced by human activities in the sea.

This graphic grabbed plenty of attention on Twitter, with users of the platform sharing and discussing the image and engaging with the true collaborative intent of infohackit.



PhD Researchers: Charel Wohl, Sov Atkinson, Paul Hackett, Trevor Grigg
Creatives: Penelope Jordan, Ruth Evans

Team Atmosphere’s intent was to create a graphic outlining the importance and research of the Penlee Observatory. Their target audience was visitors of the observatory who may have limited knowledge of the scientific activities carried out by the institution in order to clarify some of its findings and why they matter.

The graphic’s radial design enables a clear reading of the information presented and resonates with the physical curves of the observatory itself. The graphic sports mini-graphics such as graphs within the different points on the diagram to further elaborate important points.


Team Work Makes the Sea Work

PhD Researchers: Emily Stebbings, Yang Qu, Rebecca Shellock
Creatives: Stephen Prior, Nick Hughff

Team Work Makes the Sea Work went all out with their narrative-based infographic about the hidden benefits offered to people by the environment, also known as ecosystem services. The team aimed this graphic at non-experts within the general public in order to stress the importance of the environment in an increasingly technological world.

Focusing on the benefits of the ocean to humans, the graphic successfully illustrates a range of sea creatures alongside vital information. The graphic’s portrait orientation makes it particularly attuned to contemporary digital platforms such as Pinterest.

Teamwork makes the Dream Work Infographic 5

One in a Krillion

PhD Researchers: Alex Santillan, Franki Perry, Saski Rühl
Creative: Katie Hanson

One in a Krillion used eye-catching angular shapes to illustrate the life of krill at the Antarctic Peninsula.

Breaking down the life-cycle of krill into individual design components allowed for clear communication. These components were localised on the centre of the graphic signifying months of the year and providing movement and flow. The outer edges of the graphic showcased silhouettes of krill alongside further textual elaborations of the topic.



PhD Researchers: Samantha Simpson, Harry Teagle, Harriet Dale, Charlotte Walker
Creative: Isobel Hope

Diversicolor’s topic was bioturbation, the process of sediment disturbance by organisms, for instance through burrowing. This complex topic required even distribution across the graphic in order to clearly describe this phenomenon.

The team members chose a faded earthy colour palette which was well-suited to the topic. Detailed drawings of ragworms are the central feature of the graphic. These are used as a case study to more specifically illuminate the subject. The graphic is suited to phone displays and contemporary publishing platforms.

Presentation Infographic

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