Application Spotlights

Application Spotlights at IEEE VIS

There is a clear need to promote application-focused work in the VIS community. This is both due to the recognized need to engage real-world decision makers and to the growing awareness of the value of application work for generating basic research questions. Since 2019, we created a new format to help address this need: Application Spotlights. It is one of several components - including the VAST Challenge, the SciVis Contest and the VisInPractice program - which aim at bridging the gap between fundamental research and practical applications.

What is an Application Spotlight?

An Application Spotlight is a fast-paced, session-sized event (90mins) that revolves around a central, practically relevant topic. It is meant to be lean, in the sense that both the application for and the organization of a spotlight is lightweight to entice participation from both within and outside of the traditional VIS community. The goal of a Spotlight session is to create a self-contained introduction into an application topic that is relevant to VIS. This includes:

  • an introduction into the problem domain at hand - ideally delivered by a domain scientist or practitioner from said domain and accessible for a VIS-focussed audience;
  • a well-honed description of the added value that advanced VIS solutions bring to the target domain;
  • an overview of the current state of the art of VIS work applied in the target field;
  • a clear statement of open VIS challenges that is suitable to seed R&D efforts with regard to the Spotlight’s application area.

With this in mind, a typical layout will include a primer talk that addresses the first two bullets by introducing the basics of the application domain and its specific requirements. This is followed by several coordinated presentations on the topic of interest, which show what has been achieved so far. The final aspect may be interspersed throughout the program, e.g. each presenter could highlight where he/she sees yet uncharted territory. Alternatively, the organizers could deliver these points by a short panel discussion or a summarizing statement. Overall, a Spotlight will fill a 90 minute session. We advise organizers to reserve ample room for open discussion with the audience in order to fulfill the “bridging the gap” mission of the Spotlight format.

Submission Preparation and Review Process

If you are interested in organizing a Spotlight, please submit it through PCS. The Application Spotlight Organizer will be asked to provide the following information:

  • Title: Describe the subject of your spotlight session as accurately and specifically as possible in no more than ten words.

  • Summary: Describe your spotlight in no more than 1500 characters, including spaces. The summary should be written to attract those who work in your specific topic area as well as those who work in related fields. Based on experience, we suggest the following outline:

    • Explain the problem area to be addressed by the speakers and why VIS technology can create meaningful benefits in that area.
    • Explain in as much detail as possible the basic research questions in visualization and analytics that are likely to be triggered by the application
    • Discuss any methodological advances that are helpful in the application domain and its potential contributions to basic research.

The Application Spotlights co-chairs will review and evaluate all submissions. As organizer, you are in charge of selecting the governing topic, recruiting speakers, and coordinating the event as you see fit. Moreover, depending on the topic at hand, the target audience, and the overall setup of the spotlight, organizers are encouraged to decide on a publication venue for the resulting material. Possibilities include VIS-related IEEE journals and electronic publication through IEEE Xplore. It is, however, the responsibility of the Spotlight Organizers - not the IEEE VIS (Spotlight) Co-Chairs - to pursue any of these publication opportunities. In contrast, organizers may decide not to publish at all and use the Spotlight as a means to present new content relevant to both an application domain and the VIS community and foster a lively discussion around their selected topic. Upon acceptance, we will ask organizers to submit their final spotlight information advertising the event through PCS. This information will be published on During the time leading up to the conference, there will be regular check-ins by the spotlight co-chairs to provide support to the organizers while they are setting up their spotlights.

Feel free to contact us at if you have any questions concerning submission, format, and content of your application spotlight.


Date Activity
April 30, 2021 Proposal Submission
May 10, 2021 Notification
May 28, 2021 Final Submissions due
t.b.d. Announcement of Spotlights on

All deadlines are at 5:00pm Pacific Time (PDT).


Soumya Dutta, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)
Kristi Potter, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Noeska Smit, University of Bergen, Norway