Courtney Marchese, Quinnipiac University

The Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) needed insight from a graphic designer to make their disease modeling software a learning tool accessible to people beyond scientists. The institute asked me to create a visual overview of their public malaria model, available for research purposes primarily to students, medical professionals, and doctors. Their initial ideation was created as a collaboration between scientists on the frontlines of malaria research, scientific writers, and software developers. The biggest initial hurdle was the fact that the first draft was created by scientists – it made perfect sense to them, but it was difficult to dilute the information to the point of usability for a broader audience. Without an understanding of visual design, spatial relationships and hierarchy, their flowchart is almost useless. This case study echoes a common theme: scientists and designers WANT to work together, but they speak entirely different languages. How do we establish a working interdisciplinary relationship?

This paper presentation will include survey data from all participants on what is and is not working in terms of interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as what they have learned from the experience. It will also include details on the communication and feedback loop that has developed over the course of the project. In analyzing the relationship that I have formed with IDM, I hope to provide valuable insight as to how designers and scientists can successfully work together.


Courtney Marchese is an Assistant Professor of Graphic + Interactive Design at Quinnipiac University, where she teaches the theory and practice of topics including Web Design, UX/UI, Typography, Data Visualization, and Motion Graphics in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. She has done a number of presentations and publications regarding design in the health field, including information graphics for global diseases and UX/UI design for autistic children. She is also the Founding Faculty Member of the AIGA QU Student Group, and a recipient of a 2017 Quinnipiac Innovation Grant for launching “The Agency,” a student-run creative agency launching in fall of 2017.