The judges dove Down Under to select an Australian video of freshwater rotifers as First Prize winner in the 2012 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition, the world’s foremost forum for showcasing microscope photos and movies of life science subjects. Ralph Grimm, a teacher from Jimboomba, Australia, captured the fascinating 58-second video showing the super-fast movements of tiny animals whose hair-like cilia beat constantly to sweep food into their mouths. The movie depicts colonies of rotifers found on a lily leaf in Grimm’s own pond, their spot-like red eyes and internal organs captured through the use of differential interference contrast illumination. The first video ever to capture First Prize in the competition, it was selected from more than 2000 entries and earned Mr. Grimm $5,000 worth of Olympus equipment.
Now in its ninth year, the Olympus BioScapes Competition is a premier platform for honoring images and movies of human, plant and animal subjects as captured through light microscopes. Images of any life science subject are eligible. Entries are judged based on the science they depict, their aesthetics (beauty or impact of the image), and their technical expertise. Competitors can use any brand of microscope. This year, in addition to 10 top award-winning recipients, Honorable Mentions went to 62 images and movies. Altogether, there were nine videos among the entries receiving recognition.
The 2012 winning images and movies reflect the latest advances in neuroscience and cell biology as documented by researchers, along with amazing glimpses of life on a microscopic scale captured by hobbyists, students and other photographers. Specimens represent animal, plant and human subjects. For example, Second Prize went to a beautiful image of branching redalgae captured by Arlene Wechezak of Anacortes, Wash.
This year, one photomicrographer set a BioScapes Competition record for most prizes in a single year. Participants are allowed to submit up to five entries. Igor Siwanowicz of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, Va., took Third Prize for his vibrant confocal image of the sporangia on a fern, and also earned Honorable Mentions for his four other entries, for a grand total of five awards.
The honored images and movies come from 15 states of the U.S., along with 19 other nations including Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Panama, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Competition participants hail from a record 70 nations making thisyear’s competition the most international to date.
Animal subjects are highlighted in vivid colors and rarely seen detail in several winning images this year. For instance, Christian Sardet and Sharif Mirshak of The Plankton Chronicles Project, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada, respectively, earned Fourth Prize for a glowing image of a crustacean’s claw. James Nicholson of the NOAA/NOS/NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Fort Johnson Marine Lab, Charleston, S.C., captured a brilliant golden-colored coral’s open mouth for his Sixth Prize honor. Christian Klämbt and Imke Schmidt of the University of Munster, Munster, Germany took Seventh Prize for a photo of a fruit fly’s brain. And Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Wash., captured a 10th Prize close-up of gossamer butterfly wings in shades of orange and purple.
Plant images also earned Top 10 status. Rogelio Moreno Gill of Panama City, Panama, captured an extraordinary Fifth Prize photo of a one-celled green alga found in a lake. The Eighth Prize image captured by Edwin Lee of Carrollton, Texas, depicts a common weed called henbit in a striking, almost architectural light. A Delphiniumflower seed now looks like an intricately crocheted corsage in a Ninth Place image captured by Sahar Khodaverdi of the University of Tabriz in Iran.
“These fascinating and beautiful images tell important stories that shed light on the living universe around us, showing us the intimate structures and dynamic events of life in ways that we cannot ordinarily see,” said Brad Burklow, Executive Director, Business Development for the Scientific Equipment Group of Olympus America Inc. “BioScapes movies and still images remind us of the fascination and beauty of the natural world, and highlight important work going on in laboratories across the globe. The BioScapes Competition, with entries from an ever- increasing number of countries and very diverse life science fields, allows Olympus to bring amazing images and stories to the attention of scientists and non-scientists alike.”
The winners were announced last night at a gala reception in San Francisco. A selection of the 2012 winning and Honorable Mention images and videos will be displayed in a museum tour thatwill travel the U.S. over the coming year. The 2012 tour of BioScapes images is sponsored by Olympus America in cooperation with Scientific American. Other exhibits of winning BioScapes images also will tour cities across the U.S., Mexico, South America, Canada and the Middle East throughout 2013.
Olympus selects authorities in microscope imaging as judges for each year’s competition. This year’s BioScapes panel of judges included the eminent Paul Maddox, Ph.D., University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada; John Murray, Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.; Alison North, Ph.D., The Rockefeller University, New York; and Peter Saggau, Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
The Olympus BioScapes Competition will celebrate its landmark 10th Anniversary in 2013 and that competition, which closes September 30, 2013, is already open for participants. Entrants can submit up to five still images, image sequences, or movies of life science subjects captured at any magnification using a compound light microscope. The judges make their decisions without participant or brand information.