We’re a group of experienced designers, developers, researchers, writers, and data enthusiasts who like to tackle complex, unique problems. Our favorite projects are often in unfamiliar disciplines, working with domain experts who want to explore novel solutions to interesting questions. We’ve worked with healthcare professionals to redesign the patient data pipeline, with farming advocates to build interfaces to help farmers calculate land costs, and with scientists to build tools to visualize genomes, cells, and virus outbreaks.
We're interested in clients who want to think with us: problem solving and iterating on potential solutions while learning from their data. Sometimes we're starting with spreadsheets or databases, sometimes it's piles of papers, and sometimes we have to seek out the right data sources ourselves. It's never perfect, but we love the process of untangling the mess and finding what is of value. Our projects range from six week sprints to multi-year engagements, but no matter what we’re committed to using design to build tools that are easy to use, fun to explore, and substantive in their treatment of the data.
Ben Fry received his doctoral degree from the Aesthetics + Computation Group at the MIT Media Laboratory, where his research focused on combining fields such as computer science, statistics, graphic design, and data visualization as a means for understanding information. After completing his dissertation in 2004, he spent time developing tools for visualization of genetic data as a postdoc with Eric Lander at the Eli & Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard. During the 2006-2007 school year, Ben was the Nierenberg Chair of Design for the Carnegie Mellon School of Design.
He is the author of Visualizing Data (O’Reilly, 2007) and the co-author, with Casey Reas, of Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists (MIT Press, 2007) and Getting Started with Processing (O’Reilly, 2010), which describe the project they co-founded in 2001.
Ben’s work was part of the Whitney Biennial in 2002 and the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial in 2003 and 2006. Other pieces have appeared in the Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography in New York, at Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria, and in the films Minority Report and The Hulk. His information graphics have also illustrated articles for the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the journal Nature. Ben was selected as one of Fast Company’s 50 Most Influential Designers in America (2011) and as one of Slate’s Top Right (2011). He has lectured on data, design, and programming on five continents.
In 2011, Ben won the National Design Award for Interaction Design. At a White House luncheon for the honorees, he had the opportunity to meet Michelle Obama, whom he found to be very gracious but quite imposing in heels.
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Mark Schifferli likes to make life easier through computing. His programming career started at Target Analysis Group, where he processed and analyzed nonprofit revenue data. After seeing his first data visualization application, he was hooked on teasing meaningful stories from large and complicated data sets. This led him to join EnerNOC, an energy management company, where he developed applications for critical real time decision making during electrical grid emergencies.
Prior to programming, Mark contributed to various ensembles in San Francisco’s experimental music scene as a guitarist and recording engineer. Mark graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Indiana University, Bloomington, with a BA in philosophy and minors in math and French.
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Olivia Glennon started programming at the age of ten in an attempt to beautify her Neopets page. She earned a B.F.A from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. There, she took a variety of courses in both the art and engineering schools, exploring ways to connect her design background with her passion for programming.
Before coming to Fathom, Olivia spent a year at The Wall Street Journal designing and building client-facing and internal products. Outside of the office, you will find her knitting a sweater, drinking Earl Grey tea, and thinking about what to make next.
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Paul Cronan is an artist and designer. His path to information design was sparked early on by a fascination with geography and mapmaking. He earned a B.F.A. in Communication Design at Washington University in St. Louis. There, he focused on book arts, typography and web design, merging his interests to map the complexity of urban space in interactive ways.
Before joining the Fathom team, Paul worked as a designer in his hometown, Baltimore, and illustrated a novel about prehistoric time travel for Random House. He enjoys cycling, making typefaces and trying unusual foods.
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Libby is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design where she studied Graphic Design, which was great for her because she loves to play with words — creative and critical writing, drawing and arranging letterforms, and exploring other methods of making meaning.
She spends most of her time on her laptop, discovering Illustrator shortcuts or experimenting with HTML and p5.js, but believes that the only true medium is the graphic T-shirt. She hopes to use her newly-acquired graphic design skills for a lifetime of making complex information meaningful, impactful, and accessible.
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Kyle Oba is a developer with a passion for computing and building software that solves problems for people. His love of programming began in the 80s, when he learned how to use the LOGO programming language to construct flowers from repeating squares. After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering, he quickly realized that he wanted to work writing software.
He uses art projects as an opportunity to research technologies, and some of his projects have been featured in the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Honolulu Biennial Foundation. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys collecting photos of public signs which indicate human systems problems.
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Koby began designing with data to better understand complex urban and environmental systems. He recently received his Masters in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where he utilized geospatial information systems, machine learning, and computational media to advocate for green and blue infrastructures. With prior experience as an architectural designer for nature education and conservation projects, he’s always been interested in design’s ability to make knowledge accessible to wider audiences.
Outside of Fathom, Koby is a co-chair for this year’s xDesign conference with Harvard Business School. In his spare time he is often compiling historic maps, attempting to identify trees, or listening to synth music.
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Tim Burcham develops with large, realtime datasets and product development, focusing on data storytelling, design for humans and collaborative production techniques. He is an artist based in Denver, working with film, music, generative geometry, video input, audio reactivity and sensor input in his creative work. He has a B.F.A in Film Studies, studying in Stan Brakhage’s experimental film school at University of Colorado at Boulder, learning techniques for constructing non-narrative cinematic poetry. He has also studied at the School For Poetic Computation, exploring new ways of approaching his work and of learning.
Prior to joining Fathom, Tim worked at Markit Digital, building financial information products and projects. In his free time, he enjoys running, supporting Arsenal, gardening, spending time with his family, and craft cocktails.
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