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Enter your best science images in the 2021 Cool Science Image Contest 

March 22, 2021 By Chris Barncard
Microscopic image of a section of the head of a mouse embryo, showing blood vessels highlighted in bright fluorescent colors, including one shaped like a heart.

One of last year’s winning images shows a section of the head of an 11-day-old mouse embryo, expertly prepared to highlight blood vessels — marked by the green and red of endothelial cells and laminin protein, respectively — in the developing brain (the heart-shaped structure at the center).

Miranda R. Sun, research specialist, Comparative Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine

Epifluorescence microscope

Some of the most striking scientific data — produced by experienced researchers and curious amateurs alike — is visual. 

Students, staff and faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison employ microscopes, telescopes, cameras and scanners to make even parts of the world our eyes can’t perceive visible, understandable and often beautiful. 

To celebrate the exploratory and artistic value of those images and videos, the 11th annual Cool Science Image Contest is soliciting the best visuals from members of the UW–Madison community.

View the 2020 winners

Sponsored by Promega Corp. with additional support from the UWMadison Division of the Arts, the Cool Science Image Contest offers an opportunity to show off compelling science visuals. 

Hundreds of images and videos — depicting animals, insects, plants, cells, stars, weather, nanoscale compounds and more — have been entered in the contest’s first decade. Any visual media produced during the course of research, scholarship or self-guided discovery are welcome. Previous winners include distinguished scientists who have gone on to win major international image contests, but every year’s crop of honorees includes dabblers and relative novices who captured something amazing. 

Submissions are featured on university websites and other communications, and in exhibits on and off campus. Ten winning images and two winning videos are showcased in a fall exhibit at the Mandelbaum and Albert Family Vision Gallery of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, and for a year at Promega’s Fitchburg headquarters. If public health guidelines and campus policies allow, this year’s fall exhibit will be a double feature of winners from the 2020 and 2021 contests. 

To enter your cool science images or videos, visit the contest webpage for guidelines, submission requirements and a link to the entry form. The submission deadline is May 7. 

Winners, chosen by a panel of judges with experience in scientific imagery and visual art and storytelling, will be announced in May. Each winning entry receives $100 in gift certificates for Downtown Madison businesses and a large-format print of the winning submission. All qualified entries will be displayed around campus during science events throughout the year.

Tags: arts, awards, research