Fascinating look at the design of a science infographic (on life in dust)

Designers Martin Krzywinski and Barbara Jeannie Hunnicutt provide a peek behind the scenes, and explain how they developed a data visualization based on bacterial genome information derived from dust.

Source: The Evolution of a Scientific American Infographic: Secret Life in Household Dust – Scientific American Blog Network

This is an absolutely fascinating look behind the scenes at the production of an infographic for a Scientific American article on “the Secret Life in Household Dust”.  The article was based largely on a paper from Barberán et al on “The ecology of microscopic life in house dust“.

This blog post by the designers (Martin Krzywinski and Barbara Jeannie Hunnicutt) who made the infographic takes us through the thought and work in the history of the development of the final infographic.  It is definitely worth a read for anyone interested in scientific communication or in the intersection of science and art and design.

One thought on “Fascinating look at the design of a science infographic (on life in dust)

  1. Want to know morea about dust…. go to a whole conference on dust — DUST 2016 – 2nd International Conference on Atmospheric Particles, 12-17 June 2016, Calané Conference Center, Nova Yardinia Resort, Castellaneta Marina, Italy:
    or present a paper there… Call for Abstracts @ DUST2016 – Deadline is approaching: 16th December! check it out at

    Also, read an older book on dust: “The Secret Life of Dust”
    “Dust is everywhere, both on planet Earth and throughout the cosmos”

    and even more…. dust is not just microbes, but also chemicals from our modern lives…
    Synopsis of The Secret Life of Dust –
    The first U.S. study to test chemicals in household dust found a toxic cocktail in our homes, made of hazardous chemicals emitted from commonly used products.

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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.