Incredible Winners of Light Microscopy Awards Show Artistry of Scientific Imaging

Nervous system of a juvenile sea star

Global Winner, Laurent Formery (USA).
Nervous system of a juvenile sea star (Patiria miniata) about 1 cm wide. Labeled with an antibody against acetylated tubulin after optical clearing, and captured using a color-coded Z-projection.

A look at the inner workings of a sea star won the Global Image of the Year Scientific Light Microscopy Award. The contest, which recognizes the best in scientific imaging worldwide, selected the winner from 640 images submitted by photographers and scientists from 38 countries.

Organized by Evident and Olympus, since 2017, the contest has been an incredible way to highlight the artistry and scientific value of light microscopy. Global winner Laurent Formery was thrilled by the victory, which comes two years after he earned an honorable mention in the contest.

“This is a fantastic feeling,” Formery shared. “Winning the global award feels like an incredible achievement and shows I made progress. I love microscopy and can spend a huge amount of time in front of our confocal microscope, but the very nice samples that I am lucky to work with really make the difference. I work with marine invertebrates, in particular echinoderms (sea stars, sea urchins, and their kind). They are beautiful animals, with a fascinating and aesthetically pleasing fivefold symmetry that is unlike anything else in the animal kingdom. I’m happy that taking images of them helps communicate how much beauty we have in our oceans, and why it is important to know more about them and protect them.”

For the first time, the contest also singled out material sciences and engineering with a special Materials Science prize. Shyam Rathod from India won the inaugural award—and an Olympus SZ61 stereo microscope—for a colorful image showing the crystal of a topical medicine for wart treatment.

Scroll down for more winning images, as well as the honorable mentions from this year's contest and get a glimpse at life under the microscope.

The Global Image of the Year Scientific Light Microscopy Awards highlights the best scientific imaging.

Global Image of the Year Scientific Light Microscopy Award

Materials Science Winner, Shyam Rathod (India).
Crystal of a topical medicine for wart treatment named ABE, which is available in Poland. The dew was blown on a microscope slide with a straw and was captured in a single frame. Retarder and a two-cross polarization filter were used to bring out the colors.

Depth color-coded projection showing a germinating pollen grain of a morning glory attached to the stigma

Regional Winners, Americas, Igor Siwanowicz (USA).
Depth color-coded projection showing a germinating pollen grain of a morning glory attached to the stigma.

Scales of the wing of the Urania rhipheus moth

Regional Winner, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Javier Ruperez (Spain).
Scales of the wing of the Urania rhipheus moth. Captured at 20X.

Cross section of a blue spruce (Picea pungens) branch.

Honorable mention, Robert Berdan (Canada).
Cross section of a blue spruce (Picea pungens) branch. The image is a panorama of several photos that were focus stacked and captured with a 5X objective.

640 images from 38 countries were entered into this year's contest.

Pistils of dandelion were collected and made into slide samples. Different fluorescence patterns of its parts were observed using confocal microscopy.

Honorable mention, Liu Ruming (China).
Pistils of dandelion were collected and made into slide samples. Different fluorescence patterns of its parts were observed using confocal microscopy.

Scutellum of a tiger beetle

Honorable mention, Thorben Danke (Germany)
Scutellum of a tiger beetle 20:1.

Diatoms are unicellular organisms

Honorable mention, Michael Shribak (USA)
Diatoms are unicellular organisms, which can be found in the oceans, waterways, and soils of the world.

Dorsal view of a red-backed salamander skull.

Honorable mention, Katelin Murphy (USA).
Dorsal view of a red-backed salamander skull. Stained with Movat's pentachrome technique.

Edelweiss stamens

Regional Winner, Asia-Pacific, Jiao Li (China).
Edelweiss stamens, which were scanned and reconstructed in three dimensions using laser scanning confocal microscopy.

Fine grained Echinococcus protocephalus

Honorable mention, Ru Jinwei (China).
Fine grained Echinococcus protocephalus, stained with SM and
photographed in dark field.

Autofluorescence of the tip of the stamens of flowers

Honorable mention, Mei Yu (China).
Autofluorescence of the tip of the stamens of flowers at 405 nm, 488 nm, and 561 nm, emitting a greenish blue and emerald green color like peacock feathers.

Tripos macroceros. A unicellular microalga with three horns.

Honorable mention, Uriel Ruiz (Mexico).
Tripos macroceros. A unicellular microalga with three horns. The antapical horns are bent toward the single apical horn. The chlorophyll is displayed in red, where the chloroplasts sit.

Global Image of the Year Scientific Light Microscopy Award: Website

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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