2019 Cool Science Image Contest

November 8, 2019


CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of the 2019 Cool Science Image Contest.

Read the winners announcement here.

Visit our annual exhibition through Dec. 13 at the Mandelbaum & Albert Family Vision Gallery on the 9th floor of the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research, 1111 Highland Ave.


Want to share your work or interest in science?

Send us your cool science images!

What we’re looking for

This contest is open only to the UW–Madison community. Faculty, staff and students are eligible, and may enter as individuals or teams.

Images can depict an object or phenomenon from any discipline, and we welcome any method of producing an image — including, but not limited to:

    • • Microscopy
      • Photography (astronomy, nature, etc.)
      • Animations and (short) videos
      • Medical imaging
      • Science-as-art
      • Schematics
      • Photos of 3D-printed objects

Images will be judged on aesthetic and informational qualities.

Check out the 2018 winners.

Contest sponsors

Contest sponsors

What you could win

  • A published image! Winning entries are featured in slide shows on UW–Madison and select external web sites and venues.

  • A valuable prize! Winners will receive a $100 Downtown Madison gift certificate (one per winning image).
  • A large format print! Winners receive a large format print courtesy of DoIT’s Digital Publishing and Printing Services.
  • Winning images will also be displayed in a fall semester exhibit at the McPherson Eye Research Institute’s Mandelbaum and Albert Vision Gallery.


How to enter
[Entries are closed until next year. Save your cool science images, and come back in Feburary, 2020!]

Photo: An immunohistology staining of a human tissue containing blood vessels

Immunohistology or impressionism? This image, by postdoc Wei-Hua Lee, of human tissue and blood vessels was among the winners of the 2016 Cool Science Image contest. Image by Wei-Hua Lee

The form asks for the following information:

  • A credit line, including the name and affiliation of the individual(s) responsible for creating the image
  • Your affiliation with UW–Madison (i.e. undergraduate student, graduate student, postdoc, faculty, or staff. Please include your department.)
  • Your agreement to a statement of reprint permission**
  • A caption, no more than 150 words long, that answers these questions:
    – What does the image depict?
    – How was the image taken?
    – What is an interesting fact about the object or phenomenon?
    – How is this object, phenomenon and/or method of image-making important to your research or discipline?

Important: Please write your caption in layman’s terms, avoiding scientific jargon. It should be easy for a non-scientist to understand. Since “science value” is a part of the judging criteria, conveying your image’s significance in an accessible manner is important.

Winners will be announced in April.

We will need a larger, print-ready size if your image is a winner. Ideally, image density is 300 DPI. We are keenly aware of copyright issues on the web and we always include a credit/copyright line. We hope this encourages others to be respectful of copyrighted property.

Judges / Advisors

  • Steve Ackerman, UW–Madison professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences
  • John Baldacchino, director, UW–Madison Arts Institute
  • Terry Devitt, research communications director, University Communications
  • Kevin Eliceiri, director, UW–Madison Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation
  • Steve Paddock, associate scientist, UW–Madison Department of Molecular Biology
  • Paula Panczenko, director, Tandem Press
  • Kara Rogers, science writer and editor, Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Ahna Skop, UW–Madison professor of genetics

Tags: research