Alex Svalova was part of the winning team at env.infohackit Manchester who went on to take the big prize at the Grand Final. Here she describes her experience.
The Infohackit event was an amazing experience that showed how ‘humble’ Illustrator can do amazing things in the hands of two PhD students and a Creative.
Our journey began on a cold morning in the Manchester CDT Hive. Having been previously burdened by a snowfall of coding and experiments, the chance of learning creative software seemed like a breath of fresh air. Our training course began with an introduction to infographics, colour and basic digital imagery. It was quick-paced, on-point and concise. We then began playing with the Illustrator, of which it was my first encounter. Like a true MS PowerPoint junkie, transferring to vector software was turning me into an awkward turtle. Frustration began its almighty takeover and MS Word SmartArt seemed like the handsome ex at that point. But I had to move on, soz bae. Slowly, I learned how to use layers, brush templates and clipping masks. By the end of the day my first infographic was basic but rather elegant.
The second day began early, with a trembling anticipation of a miracle. Whilst still sleepy and in the arms of Morpheus we took the caffeine antidote to then meet design creatives and begin the challenge. I was really lucky with my team as none of us had nor smothering ambitions of authoritarian leadership neither a desire of indulging in nothingness. We shared out backgrounds and brainstormed to create a poster about prawn mafia a.k.a. responsible consumerism of prawns. We then labour-divided into research, analytics and graphic design and put together a poster which I couldn’t believe was made from scratch. At some point it felt like we were reading each other’s minds. Other teams’ posters were really good as well and the entire day had a really friendly atmosphere with a healthy aura of competitiveness. The infographic presentations took place in the evening, after a relaxing dinner. They were not about winning, but rather about sharing what we learned and the friends we made. But we did win- my team was amazing but I again could not quite believe it.
The Grand Final
During the Infohackit finals I was truly stunned of how advanced the Infographics were. The presentations were really strong, both technically and creatively. To me this was the manifestation of a new generation of researchers – enthusiastic, creative and with a true desire to make science exciting for academics and lay audience. Watching my competition I was convinced to not win. And then we won. Being a true Geordie lass, I was gobsmacked.
The presentations were really strong, both technically and creatively. To me this was the manifestation of a new generation of researchers – enthusiastic, creative and with a true desire to make science exciting for academics and lay audience.
The experience of Infohackit was truly inspiring and eye-opening, not least because it rekindled my interest in graphic design as well as new typesetting software. It gave me a new pathway of communicating my findings in an exciting way to make research and science even more awesome!
The winning infographic
Alex Svalova is a Geosciences PhD student from Newcastle University studying ultrasound spectrometry of the aggregation of asphaltenes during the formation of water-in-oil emulsions.