Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Network drawings: static, dynamic, applied. Investigating strategies for user-centred depiction of relational data.

Infographics/graphic design for public communication - especially for public health.

Cognitive and perceptual approaches to understanding visual communication

1995 …2023

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Professor Helen Purchase received her PhD from Cambridge University in October 1992. Her PhD research entailed invsestigating the use of schematic (network-based) representations within an intelligent tutoring system for teaching ontological concepts to primary school children. Prior to her PhD, she completed an MPhil in Computer Speech and Language Processing, also at Cambridge University. Her undergraduate studies were undertaken at Rhodes University, South Africa.

Following her PhD, Professor Purchase was appointed as a Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science (now the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering) at the University of Queensland, where she was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1998. She was awarded a UQ Teaching Excellence Award in 1999. At the University of Queensland, Professor Purchase introduced a new undergraduate course in Human-Computer Interaction and an Honours course in Advanced HCI, at a time when few universities recognised the importance of bringing this previously research-focussed topic into the curriculm. She introduced student peer-review activities and flipped classrooms into both her HCI and Artificial Intelligence courses at UQ.

She joined the Department of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow in 2001, taking on the role of Director of the MSc(Information Technology) postgraduate degree. While holding the MSc Director position for most of her time at Glasgow, Professor Purchase introduced several diffent MSc degree programmes of varying flavours and scope, and saw the total number of MSc students more than quadruple during her time there. She was awarded a University of Glasgow Teaching Excellence Award in 2011, and Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2015.

Moving to Monash University in August 2022, Professor Purchase has joined the Department of Human-Centred Computing in the Faculty of Information Technology. She is Director of the Data Visualisation and Immersive Analytics lab and Director of Education for the HCC Department.


Research interests


Professor Purchase's research has predominantly focussed on the human understanding of visual stimuli. She pioneered the idea of conducting human experiments to determine the most appropriate way to draw graphs (networks) in 1995, and has continued in taking an empirical approach to the design and comprehension of to a range of visual stimuli - for example, photographs, biological and social networks, web pages, mobile phone icons, sets etc. Her book "Experimental Human-Computer Interaction" (CUP, 2012) uses her own experiences as an empirical researcher to introduce key principles in information visualisation experimental design. She has also published several papers on topics relating to the use of Educational Technology across a range of subjects, in particular in the area of student peer-review.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or