Mapping where Taylor Swift performs on stage during a show

Taylor Swift is currently on tour. During a show, she sings 44 songs split up into 10 acts as she moves across a spectacle of a stage. A fan, who goes by vinoj, mapped Swift’s path and location as she performs every song, one map for each act.

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✚ Visualization Tools and Learning Resources – March 2023 Roundup

Welcome to issue #232 of The Process, where we look closer at how the charts get made. I’m Nathan Yau, and every month I collect visualization tools and resources to help make better charts. This is the good stuff for March.

Become a member for access to this — plus tutorials, courses, and guides.

dbSNP Enhances Scalability, Data Diversity, and Accessibility

As part of the Human Genome Project, NCBI, part of the National Library of Medicine, and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) established the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism database (dbSNP) in 1998. Over the last 25 years, dbSNP has evolved into a reliable central public repository for genetic variation data. dbSNP is a community-accepted reference … Continue reading dbSNP Enhances Scalability, Data Diversity, and Accessibility

Virtual Panel Service: Expectations and How to Sign Up

Who serves on panels?

Panelists range in experience from post-doctoral scholars (in very rare cases) through the ranks to tenured faculty, museum curators, and other active researchers both inside and outside of universities. This means you need a Ph.D. and must be active in your field. 

Furthermore, we usually invite only individuals who have previously written ad hoc reviews for us. (An ad hoc reviewer is like a reviewer of a manuscript submitted to a journal. It’s a one-off review by someone who has expertise in the topic of a particular proposal.)

You can express your interest in serving as an ad hoc reviewer or panelist by visiting our website and signing up using our Reviewer Survey.


Program Officers review the content of each proposal and recruit panelists who are qualified to review the slate of proposals in a given panel. This can explain why you may be recruited for some panels and not others. We try our best to build diverse panels, with broad representation of genders, career stages, types of institution (e.g., Research-1, Primarily Undergraduate Institutions, Minority-Serving Institutions, museums), states (especially EPSCoR eligible), and membership in groups underrepresented in science. With respect to the latter, we rely on you to self-identify when you register with Fastlane or

Before Panel Service

So, you’ve been asked and agreed to serve on a panel*. That’s great! You’ll receive an email (a “Charge Letter”), describing how to register for the panel. You need to register before you can access any of the proposals.

After lots of communication from the managing Program Officer, and after you’ve identified any conflicts of interests, you’ll be given your review assignments – usually 4-6 weeks prior to the panel dates.

Next, you’ll write individual reviews for 8-12 proposals, evaluating the intellectual merit and broader impacts. These individual reviews are submitted before the panel starts. We recommend that reviews be submitted 3 to 5 days ahead of the panel’s start so that everyone — Program Officers and other panelists — has the chance to ponder the complete set of opinions on each proposal. (Note that you won’t be able to see the ad hoc or other panelists’ reviews until you’ve submitted all your own assigned reviews.)

*We query for panelist availability through surveys sent to a subset of the community but just because you are surveyed doesn’t guarantee you’ll be asked to serve on a panel. There are many more qualified panelists than there are opportunities for panelists.

Day of Service

The panel is a multi-day discussion of each proposal’s intellectual merits and broader impacts. For each proposal in a DEB panel, at least two other panelists and multiple ad hoc reviewers will provide reviews. Panelists are expected to synthesize information from the other panelists as well as ad hoc reviewers, who typically contribute very specific expertise for each proposal. You and your fellow panelists will discuss each proposal and its ad hoc reviews. You’ll then come to a consensus and make a recommendation about its overall quality to NSF, which we call ‘priority rankings’.

How is the virtual panel experience different from the in-person experience?

A virtual panel can present new challenges in some ways but offer huge benefits in other ways.

Based on conversations with panelists over the years, we know that one of the best things about in-person panel service is meeting and interacting with Program Officers and fellow panelists over dinners and coffee breaks. Although panel dinners are pretty much impossible in the virtual world, we’ve made time for informal break-out sessions and sometimes ‘virtual meals’ (breakfast or lunch), during which panelists can chat with Program Officers and fellow panelists.

On the bright side, going virtual allows panelists who would have otherwise been unavailable (due to family obligations or other time constraints) to participate in panel service. We’ve seen virtual panels expand our community to include those who previously found the travel required for in-person panels too onerous or incompatible with family care.

We’ve also noted panelists’ dogs are enthusiastically supportive of the virtual format while panelists’ cats remain indifferent.

How does serving on a virtual panel serve you?

  1. Each panel hosts a Q&A session with DEB senior leadership and representatives from the BIO Directorate Office of the Assistant Director. This is your chance to ask about upcoming funding opportunities and recent (or future) programmatic changes. Also, tell them what you think; they value your suggestions for how to improve the review processes or research opportunities to better serve your community.
  2. You gain insight into new and emergent science in your field.
  3. You learn how to craft proposals – what works and what doesn’t.
  4. You learn about the merit review process.
  5. You build networks of scientists working on similar projects with similar goals.
  6. It’s intellectually stimulating. We guarantee you’ll be pushed in new directions.
  7. You get paid*. It’s a modest amount — $200/day for virtual panels — but probably enough to do something special with those who support you, including those pets. (*for US Citizens and permanent residents).

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Words used in layoff letters

Tech layoffs continue, and as companies deliver more letters, there are some repeated topics. For The Washington Post, Hamza Shaban, Luis Melgar, and Leslie Shapiro parsed out the patterns:

The Post analyzed 48 publicly available memos from tech companies ranging from start-ups that have raised at least $50 million to trillion-dollar giants that have announced layoffs since last summer. Major themes and key words for each theme were determined after reviewing the memos. The Post programmatically split each memo into sentences and identified each sentence with a key word. Sentences were manually vetted to verify correct classification. A single sentence may be assigned multiple categories. Design elements are direct quotes from layoff memos with the exception of the first, where “Dear” was not necessarily used.

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Visual explainer on what an AR-15 does to the human body

This is necessarily uncomfortable to go through, but for The Washington Post, N. Kirkpatrick, Atthar Mirza, and Manuel Canales show the bodily damage caused by an AR-15 bullet versus a 9mm round.

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NCBI Virus Extends Dashboard Visualizations to all Virus Sequences!

Do you want to be able to quickly filter your virus search results based on important attributes? Good news, now you can! We are pleased to announce the extension of Dashboard Visualizations for any virus in the NCBI Virus collection (Figure 1). Dashboard Visualizations allow data to be quickly visualized in a graphical presentation based … Continue reading NCBI Virus Extends Dashboard Visualizations to all Virus Sequences!

UC admission rates for California public and private high schools

For the San Francisco Chronicle, Nami Sumida shows admission rates at University of California campuses, categorized by public and private high schools:

Admissions for UCLA and Berkeley, the most competitive of the nine undergraduate UCs, follow a similar trend. Private school seniors were 20 percentage points more likely to apply to the two campuses than their peers at public schools. But unlike systemwide admissions, UCLA and Berkeley admitted public and private school students at about equal rates.

You can download the full UC dataset, which dates back to the 1994 freshman college class. With time, and several categories, it seems like a fun dataset to poke at.

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104 – What will be the economic impact of GPT?

In this episode of the podcast, I chat to Anton Korinek about the economic impacts of GPT. Anton is a Professor of Economics at the University of Virginia and the Economics Lead at the Centre for AI Governance. He has researched widely on the topic of automation and labour markets. We talk about whether GPT will substitute for or complement human workers; the disruptive impact of GPT on the economic organisation; the jobs/roles most immediately at risk; the impact of GPT on wage levels; the skills needed to survive in an AI-enhanced economy, and much more.

You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe the podcast on AppleSpotifyGoogleAmazon or whatever your preferred service might be.

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