Learnings about data visualization from 1 year of Wonderful Wednesday Webinars

Interview with Steve Mallett and Bodo Kirsch

Data visualization is at the heart of what we are doing (or should be doing) as statisticians. It moved from being a side topic a couple of years ago into a central part of the PSI conference in 2021. The upcoming PSI conference features 2 data visualization expert from the Financial Times as keynote speakers in addition to an interactive training and a contributed session about data visualization. A couple of further sessions will likely have a heavy emphasis on data visualization in a specific field like benefit-risk.

The Wonderful Wednesday Webinar series was introduced in an earlier episode. In this episode we dive deep into what has happened over 1 year of the Wonderful Wednesday Webinars. This great series on visual analytics helped us to learn how we can use visualizations of data in our development process and beyond. Bodo as the new chair and Steve as an early member are talking with me about this initiative of the EFSPI/PSI Visualisation special interest group.

Join us while we discuss the following points:

  • What have you learned about data visualization in the last year from the WWW?
  • What was your favorite visualization and why?
  • What makes this webinar series special for you?
  • What would you recommend to someone wanting to take part?


Bodo Kirsch

Bodo studied Mathematics and the universities of Greifswald and Vilnius. He is working as statistician in clinical development in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years, first for Jenapharm, then for Schering and Bayer.

Being a member of the PSI he is leading the PSI special interest group for visualisation – the group that organizes the Wonderful Wednesday Webinars. He developed the Subgroup Explorer and supports the development of further visualisation tools.

Steve Mallett

Statistical Programmer at GSK

Steve has been working in the pharma industry for over 25 years, initially working as a statistical programmer at a CRO and later moving to GSK. He transitioned to a Principal Statistician role in 2006, after doing a part-time MSc at Birkbeck college, and is now working as a Statistics Manager supporting renal and respiratory projects.

Steve has always had a passion for data visualisation, and was an active member of a GSK graphics initiative which was set up several years ago to drive the implementation of new graphics standards and tools. Steve developed and presented SAS graphics training, and was actively involved in building a library of standard graphs with supporting documentation and example code (based on SAS, and also S-Plus if anybody remembers that!)

Eventually GSK’s centralised graphics team was disbanded, but more recently Steve’s passion for graphics has been rekindled after coming across the  “Grammar of Graphics” philosophy, which goes beyond libraries of named graphics (“scatterplot” etc.) towards thinking about the fundamental elements of a plot, and assigning an appropriate “aesthetic” to each variable to gain deep insights into data. Steve is now an unrepentant convert to the R language (at least for data visualisation) and in particular the ggplot2 package.

Steve has been an active member of the PSI data visualisation SIG since early 2020, and eagerly looks forward to each Wonderful Wednesday, and marvelling at the ingenuity and creativity of statisticians and data scientists in our community!

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