Enabling people to understand information is a major motivation for Gem’s research. As such, she has expanded her expertise to include cognitive studies of how people read, understand and reason with diagrams and other visual means of communication. This cutting-edge research has provided insights into how diagrams should be designed so that they are easily understood by people and new theories to explain why they are, in the right context, superior to text and symbols.
Currently, Gem is the Brighton lead on the Accessible Reasoning with Diagrams project that runs jointly with the University of Cambridge. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the project team are providing results into how complex high-technology systems, which underpin our everyday lives, can be enhanced. The outcomes stand to reduce errors in data handling, improve the timeliness of product releases and, potentially, even reduce breaches in consumer privacy.
This funding continues a track record of grants to the tune of more than £1m, over a career spanning 14 years, further supported by partnerships with industrial collaborators including a long-term relationship with Nokia. Gem’s innovative research in the creation of diagrams for logic underpins and provides rigour to Nokia Location and Commerce’s privacy engineering processes. Consequently, Nokia can now communicate complex information across diverse teams of people in an intuitive and accessible manner. Ultimately, the impact of this research is on all customers and users of Nokia Location and Commerce’s services worldwide.