Images depicting star collisions, atom movement in yeast ribosomes, and herbaceous plant root scans were the winning entries of the 2020 Wesleyan Scientific Imaging Contest.
The Wesleyan Scientific Imaging Contest, held annually in August, recognizes student-submitted images—from experiments or simulations done with a Wesleyan faculty member—that are scientifically intriguing, as well as aesthetically pleasing. The contest is organized by the College of Integrative Sciences as part of the summer research program.
The winners included Osama Elgabori ’22, Carol Dalgarno ’21, and Jolie Villegas ’21. Elgabori’s advisor is Brian Stewart, professor of physics; Dalgarno’s advisor is Michael Weir, professor of biology; and Villegas’ advisor is Sonia Sultan, professor of biology.
Three faculty members served as judges: Brian Northrop, associate professor of chemistry; Amy MacQueen, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; and Meng-ju (Renee) Sher, assistant professor of physics.
“What we look for is both the art and the science,” Sher said. “Most of the top candidates have works that intrigued us and drew us in to find out more. Once our curiosity is up, we learn the science behind this image from the descriptions students submit. For me, learning science from the art piece is what led me to identify these three winners.”
This year, 12 students submitted contest entries, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was more than the judges had expected.
“Typically we receive many microscopic images or photographs students took in the lab. Without a physical research lab for most of our undergraduate students, we were very impressed with the type of images they put together,” Sher said.
The first-place winner (Elgabori) received a $150 prize, the second-place winner (Dalgarno) received $100, and the third-place winner (Villegas) received $50. Prizes were funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.
The winning images are shown below, along with scientific descriptions written by the students: