Jenny Rankin

Laguna Beach, California
University of Cambridge (PostDoc Masterclass)

What does it mean to be a maker?

Being a maker means two things. First, it means being a dreamer who dares to think outside of what already exists to ponder new possibilities. Second, it means being a tryer. A tryer doesn’t just daydream; he or she learns what it takes to try to make his or her vision a reality, whether that’s tinkering with electronics, computer programming, a combination of tools, or something else entirely. The maker might fail along the path of doing, but he or she will keep trying, learning new things along the way that can assist new projects for years to come.

What are you doing in the Maker community?

Today’s makers can design, build, and create amazing data visualizations (e.g., infographics, graphs, reports, etc.), which constitute an important part of the maker movement. I’ve developed a set of data reporting standards (summarizing over 300 studies, including my own quantitative work) that anyone designing data displays can use to craft visualizations that can be easily and accurately understood. I’m passionate about sharing this research with new generations (i.e., students) and with adults who provide or use data to make high stakes decisions (e.g., teachers who use data to inform how they teach each child). I thus write books to share this work (, teach the PostDoc Masterclass at University of Cambridge to share these best data visualization practices with some of the most promising scientists whose communicated data will touch the world, speak at lots of conferences to get the word out to a variety of audiences (, churn out lots of papers and articles (, and work with students as the assistant coordinator of Orange County Mensa’s Gifted Youth Program (e.g., taking kids to the Imaginology faire and guiding students and adults in crafting compelling visualizations at Mensa’s annual national convention (

Who are some other Makers you admire and why?

I admire Leonardo Da Vinci because he was a maker with so many mediums (designing and constructing inventive machines, illustrating and painting, etc.) and he was a dreamer. Dreaming is at the heart of being a maker who can see new possibilities.