Kimberly Kowal Arcand

Kimberly Kowal Arcand, Ph.D., is the Visualization scientist & Emerging tech lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which has its headquarters at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Arcand is an award-winning producer and director. She is a leading expert in studying the perception and comprehension of high-energy data visualization across the novice-expert spectrum. As a science data storyteller she combines her background in molecular biology and computer science with her current work in the fields of astronomy and physics.

Arcand has been a pioneer in astronomy data visualization, 3D printing and virtual reality. She presented her TEDx talk entitled “How to Hold a Dead Star in Your Hands” in 2016 on 3D printing, the same year she was selected as a “Changemaker” for the White House State of the Women Summit. In 2019, she was featured in the Smithsonian’s “How to be a Scientist” video series both for her work in 3D visualizations of astronomical objects and her work with under-represented groups in STEM. She led a team of researchers to launch the first-ever data-driven virtual reality application of a supernova remnant using NASA observational data.

Affiliation – NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian Position – Visualization Scientist & Emerging Technology Lead Homepage – Twitter – @kimberlykowal


Holding the Cosmos in Your Hand: Developing 3D Data Pipelines

Three-dimensional (3D) visualization has opened up a Universe of scientific data representations. 3D printing has the potential to make seemingly abstract and esoteric data sets accessible, particularly through the lens of translating data into forms that can be explored in the tactile modality for people who are blind and visually impaired. This talk will outline the current state of 3D modeling in astrophysics, astronomy, and planetary science. It will also discuss 3D printed astrophysical and planetary geophysical data sets, along with their current and potential applications with non-expert audiences. Key to this analysis is the prospective pipeline and benefits of other 3D data outputs in accessible scientific research and communications, including extended reality and data sonification. This pipeline extends across a variety of different file types.