Diversity promotes intelligence

Team VisVAR – networked research

Team VisVAR (Visualisation & Virtual/Augmented Reality) conducts research in the fields of human-machine and human-data interaction, developing new methods of interactive data visualization. A further research focus involves the fundamentals of perception and cognition that make it possible to create novel, ergonomic interfaces between complex data and human users.

The Stuttgarter Weg (Stuttgart Way) is defined by the guiding idea of networked disciplines and this is an integral part of the University of Stuttgart’s special profile. Cultural diversity and consistent cooperation between complementary disciplines fosters different approaches and persepctives. Jun.-Prof. Michael Sedlmair, who works at the Visualisation Research  Center (VISUS) and at the same time conducts research in both of Stuttgart’s Clusters of Excellence SimTech and IntCDC as well as in SFB 1313 and SFB TRR 161, and his team VisVAR are shining examples of diversity at the University of Stuttgart

Introducing the team

The team comprises nine people.

The team comprises four women and five men, who originate from Germany, Romania, Brazil, China and Austria. One member of the team has a physical disability.

Diversity opens up many different and new perspectives in terms of our research and teaching. For example, in group meetings, we often discuss current research findings and it is always interesting to see what discussions develop. This is extremely helpful for our own research papers because it enables us to examine and evaluate our work from different perspectives. From a human perspective, it is simply wonderful to work with so many excellent and nice people from various fields and cultures.

The first step towards encouraging more diversity at universities, is to sensitize people to the topic. But sensitization alone is often not adequate. Diversity must be encouraged and supported. We are in the early stages of developing a diverse and varied university culture. For example, the gender balance in this subject is not balanced: only 2 of our 26 professors are women. In every professional commission, the department places great value on motivating women to apply. Diversity also helps us to view problems, that we might otherwise not even have noticed, in a different light. A good example of this is accessibility at the university. One of our team colleagues uses a walking frame, and we are out and about with her, the sheer number of steps, the inaccessibility of the canteens and cafeterias and various other obstacles suddenly become very apparent. If we genuinely want to encourage diversity, we need to banish such barriers.

About the series "Diversity promotes intelligence"

In a series of articles, we will be introducing teams who view diversity as a matter of course. The motivation behind this series, is the University of Stuttgart’s new diversity concept, initiated by the Vice Rector for Early Career research and Diversity.

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