Profile | Fritz Drury





Fritz Drury is a Professor of Illustration at RISD, and a painter residing and working in New York. Along with courses in painting, drawing and human anatomy, he has taught Virtual Reality Design for Science for 15 years in collaboration with Brown University, and has collaborated on many user studies and research papers on using artistically derived visual expertise in designing research tools for scientists. In academic year 2018-19, he will offer a new course, Virtual Reality Design for Palliative Care, focused on providing supportive and psychologically liberating VR environments for chronically immobilized patients. Following undergraduate studies in 1977 at Stanford University where Drury earned a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Art History, he attended Yale University where he earned his Master of Fine Arts in 1981.





Design and Validation of Perceptually Accurate Spatial Data Visualization for Brain Cohort Analysis: Using Concepts from Arts, Perception, and Information Visualization

Current NSF Grant Proposal in Collaboration with Jian Chen of University of Maryland, Baltimore

The project goal is to conduct research in parallel between human-computer interaction and human perceptual and cognitive capabilities to understand their integration so as to maximize humans’ limited perceptual, cogntive, and motor resources and thus enhance scientists’ analysis capabilities.

The proposal makes three innovative claims: (1) artistic drawings can define some contextual visual constraints that make visual stimuli explicit so that visualization will replace arduous cognitive tasks with perceptual inferences. By explicit visualization, we mean the representation conveys the data structure directly; (2) such artistic drawing will be able to support complex spatial data presentation “preattentively” and we can turn subjective artistic drawings into objective design knowledge by decomposing visual design into primitive visual elements, describing a functional classification of the different primitives, and presenting rules for composing these elements. In this way, design principles can be derived to let us compare and reuse visual design elements for many spatial tasks; and (3) when human vision (perceptual and cognitive) and interaction (motor) resources are combined with the physical display characteristics (hardware), we can truly to understand the range of design in multifaceted data analysis.


Virtual Reality Design for Science

Fall 2017 (taught since 2002)

In collaboration with Brown University Professors David Laidlaw, Department of Computer Science; Stephen Gatesy, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Morgan Turner, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Johannes Novotny of Brown Computer Science is the TA.

This course explores the visual and human-computer interaction design process for scientific applications in immersive virtual reality, and is taught in the YURT, the new virtual reality facility at Brown, a curved display system with 360-degree field. This is a collaborative, interdisciplinary exercise, merging faculty and student expertise in art and science to create “sketches” for innovative approaches to scientific visualization for use by doctors and other scientists. Visual qualities and variables from diverse artistic and design disciplines are studied for potential applicability in enhancing communicative properties of visualizations of complex data in challenging 3-D and time variant situations, ultimately employing the unique qualities of immersive, interactive virtual reality environments.

The student cohort is drawn equally from RISD and Brown, and includes artists, designers and scientists. This is the seventh iteration of the course, and will feature topics connected to the study of fossils in relation to theories concerning dinosaur morphology. Past projects have included: arterial blood flow; the flight of bats; the structure and function of the human carpus.


Human Anatomy Textbook

On-going work emphasizing kinetics and functional morphology, for use in art


Visualization Criticism

May-June 2008

Kosara et al., Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE

I collaborated on this paper detailing the role that techniques of visual analysis used in art & design critique can play in determining effective structures and strategies for scientific visualization.


Natural Media and Artistic Process in Scientific Visualization


Lecture at the 2004 Winter Conference on Brain Research: (within the group presentation: Applying Lessons of Visual Art to the
study of the Brain).


Using Visual Design Expertise to Characterize the Effectiveness of 2D Scientific Visualization Methods


IEEE Best Poster Award with Acevedo et al. I collaborated on this poster detailing the role that techniques of visual analysis used in art & design critique can play in determining effective structures and strategies for scientific visualization.



Contact Fritz Drury