Matthew Brehmer, Data Visualization Researcher

contact me:

mabrehme [at]

mattbrehmer [at]



google scholar






microsoft profile

about me

I am a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, where I specialize in information visualization for storytelling and journalism. I am a member of the EPIC Research Group, Project Steller, and the Microsoft Data Journalism Team.

Prior to joining Microsoft, I completed a PhD in Computer Science in 2016 at the University of British Columbia, where I was a member of the InfoVis group. I completed a M.Sc in Human-Computer Interaction in 2011 (also at UBC), as well as a B.Comp in Cognitive Science from Queen's University in 2009.

My biographical timeline; click for hi-fi video version.


Oct. 2017: I will present the IEEE TVCG paper Timelines Revisited: A Design Space and Considerations for Expressive Storytelling at IEEE VIS 2017, Phoenix AZ, Oct 1 - 6.

Oct. 2017: I will present the poster Demonstrating the Value of Visualization: Highlights from the 2017 PacificVis Visual Data Storytelling Contest at IEEE VIS 2017.

Aug. 2017: I will be speaking about Expressive Storytelling with Timelines at "A Journey Through Space and Time": An Uber Visualization Night Meetup in Seattle on August 31.

July 2017: I presented Timelines Revisited: Considerations for Expressive Storytelling at the City University London giCentre on July 11 and at the King's College London Department of Informatics on July 12.

June 2017: Timeline Storyteller will soon be available as a custom visual for Power BI. The custom visual was demonstrated in the opening keynote [watch video] and I gave a demo during the BI Power Hour [video] at the Microsoft Data Insights Summit in June 2017.

Apr. 2017: I spoke at OpenVisConf 2017, Apr. 24 in Boston. My talk was called What story does your timeline tell? [PDF slides] [video]


visualization and interface design

I design visualization tools and techniques for data analysis and communication: I write code, I sketch, and I explore and transform data.

examples: Timeline Storyteller, SoundConsensus

human-centred quantitative evaluation

I conduct controlled experiments as a way to understand human capabilities with respect to perception and attention (and sometimes these results have actionable implications for human-computer interface design).

examples: [CHI 2012], [WorldHaptics 2011]

human-centred qualitative evaluation

I evaluate current data analysis and communication processes, work-in-progress designs, and deployed visualization tools: I conduct work domain analyses, interview studies, chauffeured demos/walkthroughs, and field studies.

examples: [InfoVis 2014], [BELIV 2014]


data journalism and storytelling

In collaboration with the Overview Project, I conducted six case studies of journalists who used Overview to investigate and report on large text document collections. Our findings provided transferible lessons for document visualization design.

more info: [InfoVis 2014]

My goal is to provide journalists and storytellers with tools and techniques for presenting information to readers, such as ways to present visual timelines.

tools: Timeline Storyteller, TimeLineCurator

energy management and conservation

I have collaborated with a company that develops enterprise energy analysis and reporting software and designed visualizations for analyzing and monitoring energy usage in large portfolios of buildings. I consulted with various stakeholders and prospective users, envisioning ways to interactively locate patterns and anomalies.

more info: [InfoVis 2015], [Portfolio Sandbox]

health and fitness

My M.Sc research pertained to the design and evaluation of C-TOC, a computerized cognitive assessment tool intended for early detection of dementia. I studied the use of C-TOC prototypes by healthy older adults and by adults with diagnosed mild cognitive impairments.

more info: [ADAD 2014], [CHI 2012], [MSc 2011]

Prior to my M.Sc, I worked in the area of exercise video games (aka active games): I studied the role of physical exertion on cognitive task performance. I also designed GAIM, an XNA/C# toolkit which allowed players with different input peripherals to play active games together.

more info: [BComp 2009], [FuturePlay 2010], [ACE 2009]


OpenVisConf, April 24 2017 (Boston, USA)

What Story Does Your Timeline Tell?

→ [slides] [video]

Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, December 8 2016 (Cambridge, USA)

Timelines Revisited: Considerations for Expressive Storytelling

→ [slides]

Dissertation Defence, March 23 2016 (UBC, Canada)

Why Visualization? Task Abstraction for Analysis and Design

→ [slides]

Data-Driven Storytelling Dagstuhl Seminar, Feb 7-12 2016 (Wadern, Germany)

Expressive Storytelling with Timelines (5 min lightning talk)

→ [slides]

Microsoft Research, February 1 2016 (Redmond, USA)

Why Visualization? Task Abstraction for Analysis and Design

→ [video] [slides] [keynote]

University of Washington, September 4 2015 (Seattle, USA)

Matches, Mismatches, and Methods: Multiple-View Workflows for Energy Portfolio Analysis

→ [slides] [keynote]

Vancouver Data Visualization Meetup, May 19 2015 (Vancouver, Canada)

The Future of Data and Design … In Visualization Research

→ [slides] [keynote]

IEEE VIS Doctoral Colloquium 2014 (Paris, France)

Visualization Task Abstraction from Multiple Perspectives

→ [poster] [slides] [keynote]

IEEE InfoVis 2013 (Atlanta, USA)

A Multi-Level Typology of Abstract Visualization Tasks

→ [video] [slides] [keynote]


[J] = journal; [C] = conference; [W] = workshop / other; [P] = poster; [BC] = book chapter; [TR] = technical report; [Th] = thesis

Evaluating Data-Driven Stories & Storytelling Tools [BC]
Fereshteh Amini*, Matthew Brehmer*, Gordon Bolduan, Christina Elmer, and Benjamin Wiederkehr. To appear a forthcoming book on Data-Driven Storytelling, edited by Sheelagh Carpendale, Nicholas Diakopoulos, Christophe Hurter, and Nathalie Henry Riche, 2017. (* = equal contribution)

Demonstrating the Value of Visualization: Highlights from the 2017 PacificVis Visual Data Storytelling Contest [P]
Matthew Brehmer, Kyungwon Lee, Ivan Viola, Jinwook Seo, and Bongshin Lee. Poster to appear at IEEE VIS 2017.

ChartAccent: Annotation for Data-Driven Storytelling [C]
Donghao Ren, Matthew Brehmer, Bongshin Lee, Tobias Höllerer, and Eun Kyoung Choe. In Proc. IEEE PacificVis 2017.

Timelines Revisited: A Design Space and Considerations for Expressive Storytelling [J]
Matthew Brehmer, Bongshin Lee, Benjamin Bach, Nathalie Henry Riche, and Tamara Munzner. To appear in IEEE TVCG and as a presentation at IEEE VIS 2017.

Why Visualization? Task Abstraction for Analysis and Design [Th]
Matthew Brehmer, PhD Dissertation [April, 2016].

Matches, Mismatches, and Methods: Multiple-View Workflows for Energy Portfolio Analysis [J]
Matthew Brehmer, Jocelyn Ng, Kevin Tate, and Tamara Munzner. IEEE TVCG / Proc. InfoVis 2015.

TimeLineCurator: Interactive Authoring of Visual Timelines from Unstructured Text [J]
Johanna Fulda, Matthew Brehmer, and Tamara Munzner. IEEE TVCG / Proc. VAST 2015.

Overview: The Design, Adoption, and Analysis of a Visual Document Mining Tool For Investigative Journalists [J]
Matthew Brehmer, Stephen Ingram, Jonathan Stray, and Tamara Munzner. IEEE TVCG / Proc. InfoVis 2014.

Visualizing Dimensionally-Reduced Data: Interviews with Analysts and a Characterization of Task Sequences [W]
Matthew Brehmer, Michael Sedlmair, Stephen Ingram, and Tamara Munzner. Proc. ACM BELIV 2014.

Pre-Design Empiricism for Information Visualization: Scenarios, Methods, and Challenges [W]
Matthew Brehmer, Sheelagh Carpendale, Bongshin Lee, and Melanie Tory. Proc. ACM BELIV 2014.

C-TOC (Cognitive Testing on Computer): Investigating the Usability and Validity of a Novel Self-administered Cognitive Assessment Tool in Aging and Early Dementia [J]
Claudia Jacova, Joanna McGrenere, Hyunsoo S. Lee, William Wang, Sarah Le Huray, Emily F. Corenblith, Matthew Brehmer, Charlotte Tang, Sherri Hayden, B. Lynn Beattie, and Ging-Yuek R. Hsiung. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 2014.

A Multi-Level Typology of Abstract Visualization Tasks [J]
Matthew Brehmer and Tamara Munzner. IEEE TVCG / Proc. InfoVis 2013.

Dimensionality Reduction in the Wild: Gaps and Guidance [TR]
Michael Sedlmair, Matthew Brehmer, Stephen Ingram, and Tamara Munzner. UBC CS Technical Report TR-2012-03, 2012.

Investigating Interruptions in the Context of Computerised Cognitive Testing for Older Adults [C]
Matthew Brehmer, Joanna McGrenere, Charlotte Tang, and Claudia Jacova. Proc. ACM CHI 2012.

Usability and the Effects of Interruption in C-TOC: Self-Administered Cognitive Testing on a Computer [Th]
Matthew Brehmer. MSc Thesis, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) 2011.

A Tale of Two Studies: Investigating the Impact of Interruptions on Task Performance in Older Adults [W]
Matthew Brehmer, Charlotte Tang, Joanna McGrenere, and Claudia Jacova. Work-In-Progress Short Paper at the GRAND NCE 2011 AGM.

The Haptic Crayola Effect: Exploring the Role of Naming in Learning Haptic Stimuli [C]
Inwook Hwang, Karon MacLean, Matthew Brehmer, Jeff Hendy, Andreas Sotirkopoulos, and Seungmoon Choi. Proc. IEEE World Haptics Conf. 2011.

Activate Your GAIM: A Toolkit for Input in Active Games [C]
Matthew Brehmer, T.C. Nicholas Graham, and Tadeusz Stach. Proc. ACM Future Play 2010.

Classifying Input for Active Games [C]
Tadeusz Stach, T.C. Nicholas Graham, Matthew Brehmer, and Andreas Hollatz. Proc. ACM ACE 2009.

Assessing the Effect of Exercise Intensity on Cognitive Task Performance in an Exercise Video Game [Th]
Matthew Brehmer. B.Comp Thesis, Queen's University (Kingston, Canada) 2009.


Program Committee: IEEE InfoVis (2017), EuroVis State of the Art Reports (2017), IEEE PacifiVis Visualization Notes (2017)

Reviewer: IEEE InfoVis (2013 - 2016), IEEE VAST (2015), IEEE PacificVis (2017), IEEE TVCG (2015 - 2016), EuroVis (2014, 2015, 2017), ACM CHI (2013 - 2017), ACM TOCHI (2013), Sage Information Visualization Journal (2015 - 2016), ACM SIGGRAPH Asia (2012), GRAND NCE ACM (2012)

Student Volunteer: ACM CHI (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016)