Shirley Wu

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Shirley Wu
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Known forData visualizations

Shirley Wu is a data scientist specialized in data art and data visualizations.[1] She is a freelancer based out of San Francisco, California.[2] With Nadieh Bremer, Wu is the author of Data Sketches.[3]


Shirley Wu graduated from Newbury Park High School in Newbury Park, California in 2008.[4][5] Wu received her Business Administration degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 2012.[3][citation needed] In Fall 2021, she began a master's degree at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts's Interactive Telecommunications Program.[6]


In 2012, Wu worked as a software engineer at Splunk.[3] Wu then worked as a software engineer on a frontend team at Illumio in 2015.[7][8]

Since 2016, Wu has freelanced as a data visualization contractor and consultant.[3] Wu writes, teaches, and speaks at conferences about her data art and visualization expertise,[9] as well as providing courses on front-end web development, particularly D3.[8][10] As a data visualization expert, she is a frequent speaker at conferences and guest on data visualization podcasts.[10][11][12][13][14]

Wu has had an ongoing collaboration with Nadieh Bremer since they met in 2016 at the OpenVisConf in Boston.[3][15] In late 2017, Wu and Bremer collaborated with The Guardian to enrich the field of journalism research in the project "Bussed Out: How America Moves its Homeless".[16] This article's cartographic and visual works seamlessly accompanying its storytelling received various accolades and awards.[17][18][19] The pair have collaborated with Google and Alberto Cairo on visualizations about popular travel locations and searches.[9] Wu's work focused on the search terms entered from one country that were related to other countries.[20] Bremer and Wu have also co-authored the book Data Sketches together.[3] The book was first suggested by Tamara Munzner, who wanted the book to be part of her data visualization series. Munzner joined the project as its editor.[3]

As a result of her work, Wu was featured in GitHub's ReadME Project, which "amplifies the voices of the open source community."[6]

Notable works[edit]

  • Data Sketches (2021), coauthored with Nadieh Bremer, is a collection of 24 data visualizations.[3][21][22][23]
    • An Interactive Visualization of Every Line in Hamilton, The Pudding (part of the Data Sketches series).[24] An interactive data visualization of the dialogue in the musical Hamilton.
    • Explore Adventure, Google News Lab (part of the Data Sketches series).[25] The visualization explores how Google searches differ between countries. In 2017, it received the Science & Technology award given by Information is Beautiful Awards.[26][27]
  • People of the Pandemic: an interactive simulation game.[28][29] This piece allows readers to localize a simulation of the COVID-19 pandemic, to make the impacts of decisions more intuitive.[30][31]
  • Bussed Out: How America Moves its Homeless, The Guardian[16] This piece won best data visualization from the North American Digital Media Awards, as well as Silver from the Malofiej Awards.


  • Best Data Visualization – North American Digital Media Awards (2018)[32] for "Bussed Out: How America Moves its Homeless".[16]
  • Silver in Features – Malofiej 26 (2018)[33]  for "Bussed Out: How America Moves its Homeless".[16]
  • Bronze in Art, Entertainment & Pop Culture – Information is Beautiful Awards (2017)[34] for "An Interactive Visualization of Every Line in Hamilton".[24]
  • Gold in Unusual – Information is Beautiful Awards (2017)[35][36] for "Data Sketches in Twelve Installments".[21]


  1. ^ Ray, Matt (August 12, 2017). "QQ with Shirley Wu *Junior Edition". Medium. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  2. ^ eggheadio. "How Shirley Wu Built A Career As A Freelance Data Visualizer". egghead. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Bremer, Nadieh; Wu, Shirley (2021). Data Sketches. CRC Press. pp. 15–16.
  4. ^ "CONEJO VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING". Conejo Valley Unified School District. May 20, 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  5. ^ @kickrg (February 8, 2016). "Shirley Wu, NPHS & Cal grad, teaches Computer Science Principles students about data visualization! #apcsp #apcsp" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  6. ^ a b "Chasing dreams, data, and creative coding · The ReadME Project". GitHub. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  7. ^ Illumio. "From Investment Banking to Building Illumination: Questions for Shirley Wu". Illumio. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Learn from Shirley Wu's Courses on Frontend Masters". Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Lindberg, Oliver (August 2019). "Learn from a Data-Viz Whizz". Net Magazine. pp. 26–31.
  10. ^ a b Sans, Gerard (October 20, 2017). "ReactiveConf — In the loop with Shirley Wu". Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  11. ^ "The Sketchcast, Episode 2: Data Visualisation with Shirley Wu". Whiteboard animations Melbourne: professional explainer videos, videoscribing and sketch videos. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  12. ^ "Shirley Wu, Software Engineer & Data Visualization Freelancer | Tech+Art by Tech+Art • A podcast on Anchor". Anchor. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  13. ^ storytelling with data: #40 Data Sketches with Shirley Wu & Nadieh Bremer, retrieved May 10, 2021
  14. ^ "storytelling with data podcast - improve your data visualization and presentation skills". storytelling with data. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  15. ^ "Animation in Dataviz – An Interview with Nadieh Bremer and Shirley Wu | Val Head". Val Head |. April 28, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  16. ^ a b c d "Bussed out: how America moves thousands of homeless people around the country". The Guardian. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  17. ^ "Bussed Out: How America Moves its Homeless". Online Journalism Awards. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  18. ^ "The Winners: Politics & Global". Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  19. ^ World Digital Media Awards. "Winner of Best Data Visualization".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Miller, Meg (April 25, 2017). "What Happens When Google Turns Artists Loose On Its Search Data". Fast Company. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Data Sketches". Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  22. ^ Santoro, Claire (December 2, 2020). "Drawing Out 'Data Sketches'". Medium. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  23. ^ "Data Sketches". GitHub. April 24, 2021. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  24. ^ a b Wu, Shirley (March 2017). "An Interactive Visualization of Every Line in Hamilton". The Pudding. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  25. ^ "Explore Adventure". Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  26. ^ Rogers, Simon (April 25, 2017). "Data needs empathy to make it real". Medium. Google News Lab. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  27. ^ "Explore Adventure". Information is Beautiful Awards. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  28. ^ Stefaner, Moritz (March 6, 2020). "People of the Pandemic with Shirley Wu". Data Stories. Retrieved May 16, 2021. A podcast on data visualization with Enrico Bertini and Moritz Stefaner
  29. ^ "People of the Pandemic | a hyperlocal cooperative simulation game". Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  30. ^ Hall, Madison (May 15, 2020). "How Do You Simulate a Pandemic? A Conversation With Data Designers Shirley Wu and Stephen Osserman". Medium. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  31. ^ Makulec, Amanda (June 1, 2020). "Move over, data visualization. The era of 'data simulation' is here". Fast Company. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  32. ^ "North American Digital Media Awards 2018 | WAN-IFRA Events". Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  33. ^ "Malofiej / Awards, Conference and Workshop". Malofiej Awards | The Best of Graphics Infographics Visualization Dataviz. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  34. ^ "An Interactive Visualization of Every Line in Hamilton". Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  35. ^ "Data Sketches in Twelve Installments". Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  36. ^ "Information is Beautiful 2017 – take a look at the best infographics and data visualisations of this year". Digital Arts. Retrieved May 10, 2021.