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Headshot of the author
Hi, I’m Will —

I’m a developer, designer, journalist, and artist. I use my background as a researcher to better understand the world around me through data and I share those insights by designing and coding visual essays. I emphasize clear and vivid storytelling that delights readers, makes complex topics accessible and creates ah-hah moments. If you want to work together, please get in touch!

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The long version
  • The Early Years

  • January 1st, 1994

    I'm born in State College, PA. I was the New Year’s Baby, I had my photo in the paper and all.

  • September, 1996

    I start preschool. I have developed an obsession with keys and locks, which I collect. On my first day of preschool I steal my principal’s keys and she has to call my parents that night when she realizes her car keys are missing.

  • September, 1999
    The author at school as a child posing with some friends

    I start kindergarden at the State College Area Friends School. This school and the teachers were outstanding. I learned critical thinking, how to learn, and how to be a generally decent person and responsible citizen.

  • September, 2006

    I transfer to public school for 7th and 8th grade. Like most 7th and 8th graders I really had no idea who I was or what was important to me. I tried to emulate “cool”, which lead me to make a lot of mistakes in life. It got better.

  • Terrible Teens

  • September, 2008
    The author in a swimming pool making a silly face

    I start at State College Area High School. I’m on the swim team, I love history class, and I have some wonderful friends.

  • September, 2010

    I take the first of Mrs. Knight’s advanced biology electives. Mrs. Knight was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, and these courses convinced me I wanted to be a biologist.

  • June, 2012
    Yeast cells glowing green under a microscope

    The summer after graduating high school, I work in a plant biology lab at Penn State University. I learn so much about science and research, and I get to work with DNA, do a lot of biochemistry, and learn all about proteins, plants, and bacteria.

  • Interludes: A Year Abroad

  • August, 2012
    The author posing at the equator

    I’ve always wanted to experience other cultures, and since I had been studying Spanish since 1st grade (thank you Friends School), I decide to take a gap year in Ecuador. I used the magic of the internet to find some wonderful organizations to volunteer with, and with a fairly loose plan, I set off on a plane to Quito. I blogged the whole trip, you can read more here.

  • September - October, 2012
    The author carrying two young children

    Living with a host family in the suburbs of Quito, I volunteer teaching young children at an orphanage. I improve my schoolboy Spanish to something closer to fluency, meet some of the nicest and most caring people, and solidify my suspicion that I don’t enjoy babysitting. I also make some wonderful friends, climbed some mountains, and have lots of other exciting adventures.

  • November - December, 2012
    The author in the rainforest holding a monkey

    I move on to a new volunteer program at a wild animal rescue center in the Amazon. It’s three hours from civilization, no electricity, and the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived. I've always loved animals and getting to spend every day taking care of coatis and macaws and monkeys is a dream come true.

  • January, 2013
    The author and his parents posing in the Galapagos islands

    My parents visit and I play tour guide showing them my favorite parts of the country—it’s wonderful. I also have all of my important things stolen and get to negotiate with the thieves and set up a clandestine meeting to exchange a wad of cash for my passport—that part was less wonderful.

  • March, 2013
    A galapagos marine iguana

    I spend six weeks in the Galápagos Islands volunteering to remove invasive species and restore natural tortoise habitat. I also learn to scuba dive and cruise around different islands seeing the most incredible landscapes and wildlife.

  • April - May, 2013
    The author hugging a monkey

    More time in the Amazon, a piece of my heart will always remain there. Then working in a cafe/farm/chocolate factory with the most incredible chocolate and coffee I’ve ever had. Now back to reality.

  • College Years

  • Summer, 2013
    The author posing with friends on the subway in Taiwan

    I start back up in the lab, this time able to design my own projects and largely direct my own original research. I start my undergraduate degree at Penn State in Microbiology. I teach English in Taiwan with some lovely people. Over the summer I take two semesters worth of Japanese in an intensive course where we spend 5 hours a day 5 days a week studying and speaking Japanese. So do I speak Japanese? ちょっとです.

  • September, 2013 - May, 2014
    A poster of algae illustrations by Ernst Haeckel

    I study biology, math, and statistics. I’m bad at math, but I think it's really fun so I keep taking more courses even though I’m doing rather poorly. I spend a lot of time in the lab. I’m in a botany lab, but most of my work is biochemistry, extracting proteins, engineering DNA, and growing a whole heap of microbes. I also fall in love with vintage botanical prints.

  • Summer, 2014
    A computer model of a protein binding to a cellulose molecule

    All my math and statistics courses got me thinking: what if instead of working so hard to study this protein experimentally in the lab, I just simulated it in the computer? I get a grant to do computer simulations about protein structure and function. My first foray into computational biology.

  • May, 2016
    A phylogenetic tree diagram

    I get more and more into computer stuff, start spending about half my time with computational biology, now deep into studying phylogenetics, evolution, and the tree of life. Eventually specialized software and bash can no longer meet my needs, so I decide to learn R for data wrangling and to make some fancy figures.

  • Adulting

  • Summer, 2017
    An ultra-high resolution microscope image showing the woven structure of cellulose fibers in the plant cell wall

    I graduate college and start working full time in the lab as a technician. I’m officially in love with R and I spend every free minute coding. At work I end up doing a lot of microscopy and get to work with a very fancy microscope, called an Atomic Force Microscope. It’s fun and I take a lot of pretty pictures, like this one.

  • October, 2018
    Cover of the book 'Show Me the Numbers

    I think there must be a better way to improve my figure making skills than just tweaking until I think it looks good. I buy Stephen Few’s Show Me the Numbers and start learning the fundamentals of dataviz. I make a lot of bad graphs.

  • Summer, 2018
    An old screenshot of the author's previous personal site

    I’ve spent some time practicing my dataviz, and realized I want to do this for a living. I’m reading, coding, and designing with all of my free time. I establish a blog and start writing about R. Around this time I learn HTML and CSS so I can start tweaking my website and styling documents for the web.

  • January, 2019
    The logo for the Penn University School of Medicine

    I move to Philadelphia and start a new job as a data analyst and visualization specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • April, 2019
    A screenshot of the author's data essay on remotely triggered earthquakes

    I begin learning JavaScript and D3.js, now realizing that what I truly love is doing more story-based data journalism type work. I'm freelancing (part-time) and doing lots of dataviz competitions.

  • November, 2019
    The Fidelity Investments logo

    I join Fidelity's business intelligence and insights team where I work on data visualization design, visual storytelling, and advancing our data visualization technologies.