«Knowledge Visualization»*

Head: Niklaus Heeb | Assistant: Elisa Forster

How can complex information be translated into a visual language?

How do images and visualization support processes of scientific insight?

The core subject Scientific Visualization within the Master of Arts in Design is concerned with the development and transfer of scientific insights and knowledge using imagery and visualization. An individualized visualization project anchors this research-oriented Masters program, which explores the acquisition and didactic transfer of knowledge, under the guidance of lecturers and experts in design methods.

Visualization of Knowledge & Knowledge Transfer

The primary objective of the Masters projects is to visually depict scientific content to target audiences as clearly and precisely as possible. Visualization is therefore used in the service of didactics and knowledge transfer. Research into knowledge-transfer concepts, manual-technical image creation, and image design are central points of inquiry.

Visualization Tools

Scientific visualizations can contribute to the emergence of knowledge through their support of research and cognitive processes. It is for that reason that visualization methods are an integral part of many research processes (diagnoses, data visualization and pattern recognition, model building and thesis development, etc.). The specialization in Scientific Visualization is particularly concerned with the meaning and epistemic functionality of visualization in image-supported processes of scientific insights.

From drawing to 3D Technology

The program of study focuses primarily on 3D visualization, even though conventional analog and digital imaging techniques are also offered, depending on the research questions and objectives of a particular Master project. Imaging techniques can also be an object of study. The focus is on creating new areas of application for scientific visualization in digital media and the most recent developments in imaging techniques.


Masters students are supported in the development of their creative competence through the involvement of experts from the interdisciplinary context of the Master of Design program. This opens the possibility of developing visualization for application in other areas and for other products, such as interactive infographics, knowledge films, exhibition installations, mobile applications and Virtual Reality.

Cooperation and Practice

Master projects are developed in close cooperation with research partners. In the course of their projects, students work with partner universities, research institutions or industry partners. In addition to receiving supervision from lecturers and mentors from their discipline, students are supported and advised by selected experts in their specialization. This ensures that the projects developed meet the highest demands for content and research, and also allows students to build their own networks of partners and experts for their own professional futures.

Scientific Visualization offers an extensive network with scientific and research partner institutions, as well as institutions for research communication.

Cooperation partners

– University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, University of Basel
– VetSuisse, University of Zurich
– Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, IEM, University of Zurich
– Anthropological Institute and Museum of the University of Zurich
– Laboratory of Artificial & Natural Evolution, LANE, University of Geneva
– Computational Science & Engineering Laboratory CSElab, ETH Zurich
– Excite, Competence Center Experimental and Clinical Imaging Technologies, ETH Zurich
– Geodesy and Geodynamics Lab, ETH Zurich
– Institute for Legal Medicine, Forensic Medicine and Imaging, University of Zurich
– Graphics and Vision Research Group, GRAVIS, University of Basel
– Life Histories of Theban Tombs, Department of Ancient Civilizations, University of Basel
– Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
– Department of Informative Illustration, HAW Hamburg
– Office for Spatial Development, Archaeology and Conservation of Historic Monuments, Zurich
– Federal Offices for Environment and Spatial Development, BAFU, ARE
– Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, WSL
– Swiss National Park, Zernez
– Papilorama, Kerzers


Niklaus Heeb; Head, Project Mentor
Fabienne Boldt; 3D Visualization, Project Mentor
Joe Rohrer, 3D Visualization, Project Mentor


Elisa Forster, Master of Arts in Design

External mentors

Simon Tschachtli, Atelier Tschachtli – Visual Interaction
Reto Spoerri, Game-developer and CEO Ludic GmbH
Marina Braem, Visual Designer, Head of Infographics Tages–Anzeiger


* The students receive the diploma «Master of Arts in Design, Specialization Communication»


Website Scientific Visualization