Princeton University's Art of Science competition recognizes images of artistic merit that are created in the course of scientific research. The 2014 selections include videos for the first time. Judges chose 44 still images from more than 250 submissions from Princeton undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff and alumni. Twelve videos were chosen from more than 50 submissions.
This first-place photo by Princeton postdoctoral researcher Sara Sadri, titled "Watermarks," traces the intricate patterns created by water moving back and forth on New Jersey's Atlantic coast. "As a hydrologist, I am fascinated by the natural phenomena of our beautiful planet," Sadri says.
A droplet containing bovine serum albumin – a protein from cow's blood – turns into a delicate crystal shell as it evaporates in a process called dendritic crystallization. The photo, titled "A Cave of Crystals," was entered by Princeton postdocs Hyoungsoo Kim and François Boulogne, and engineering professor Howard Stone.
"Lion Love," by Princeton graduate student Jennifer Schieltz, shows a lioness nuzzling her cub at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya. "My research shows that well-managed cattle grazing can actually benefit wild grazers like zebra and antelope, the prey of lions," Schieltz says. "Healthy prey populations allow for healthy predator populations as well, leading to scenes like this one."
Second place in the Art of Science competition goes to "Fungus Among Us," a photo by postdoctoral researcher James Waters that shows a gossamer network of strands connecting tiny fungal spores. "I photographed this microscopic view of an unidentified species of Rhizopus fungus growing on debris within a lab-reared colony of Aphaenogaster rudis seed-harvesting ants," Waters says.
The ovaries of a fruit fly contain multiple ovarioles, biological assembly lines in which egg chambers develop into fly eggs. "Fruit Fly Factory" shows the cross-sections of 10 ovarioles from different fruit flies - arranged with stem cells and early-stage egg chambers at the center, and the more mature chambers at the periphery. The photomicrograph, which was selected as the "People's Choice" by visitors to the Art of Science exhibit, was entered by graduate students Yogesh Goyal and Bomyi Lim, postdoc Miriam Osterfield and engineering professor Stas Shvartsman.
Workers of the army ant species Eciton hamatum form a bridge with their bodies on Panama's Barro Colorado Island. This bridge could become the start of a complicated structure with many chambers, all formed from living ants to protect their queen, their young and their food. The photo, titled "Living Architecture," was entered by graduate student Matthew Lutz and postdoc Chris Reid.
"Portrait of the Artist in the Air Shower" won third place in the Art of Science competition. "As an electrical engineering graduate student, I spend many hours in the clean room, usually attired as seen in the photo," graduate student Yasmin Afsar explains. The photo was taken during a 20-second blast of air that removes tiny bits of debris when researchers enter the clean room.
Cash prizes are awarded for the top three photos in accordance with the aesthetically pleasing golden ratio: $250 for first place, $154.51 for second and $95.49 for third.
A Tesla coil takes center stage in "Now That I Have Your Attention," a photo entered by Omelan Stryzak, manager of undergraduate labs at Princeton; and graduate alumnus Bart McGuyer. This photograph captures the lightning-like plasma filaments that discharge when high voltage is applied to the coil.
"Polymer Sun and Mercury" was entered by graduate student Hyuncheol Jeong and faculty members Craig Arnold and Rodney D. Priestley. The photo shows a thin film of polyethylene oxide that has been deposited on a silicon wafer. "Because the polymer is diffusing randomly onto the silicon, it grows out in surprising flarelike patterns, replicating the sun in a spot roughly the diameter of a single human hair," the researchers report. "We took this picture using an atomic force microscope."
This scene was captured by Andy Dobson, a Princeton biologist whose research group works at the intersection of environmental concerns and biomedical issues. "This photograph of wildebeest grazing in the golden grasslands at the end of a rainbow could symbolize hope for the fragile ecosystems of the Serengeti region of Tanzania," Dobson says.
Check out the Art of Science website to see all 44 of the exhibit's images and watch the 12 top videos. The physical Art of Science exhibit is on view at the Friend Center on the Princeton University campus through April 2015. A "best of" exhibit is on display at the New York Hall of Science through September 2014. Art of Science's news release provides further details.