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Artistic research puts science in the public eye

EVANSTON - Images of blood flowing through a human heart, captured at a single moment in time through a 4-D flow MRI, took first place in Northwestern University’s Scientific Images Contest, run by Science in Society.

The winners of the 2016 Scientific Images Contest and those who received honorable mentions were announced Nov. 7, launching the exhibit at Evanston Township High School.

Dedicated to science outreach and public engagement, Science in Society developed the annual contest and exhibits to connect the public with contemporary research through compelling visuals.

The winning Northwestern images are currently on display in Evanston Township High School. In addition, 77 artworks from ETHS students also are on display. Four classes of ETHS art students created original paintings, drawings and sculptures inspired by the Northwestern research images. Photographs by ETHS physics students are in the show as well.

In December, the winning Northwestern images will move from the high school to the main Evanston Public Library. In the spring, the exhibit will travel to the Museum of Science and Industry.

The contest and its events program are designed to build bridges between researchers and the community, said Sara Grady, editor and communications specialist for Science in Society.

“We’re reframing the conversation to start a new dialogue, particularly with people who don’t think they’re interested in science or research,” Grady said. “Because these images are so arresting, they can open windows and show snapshots of the breadth of the research happening on Northwestern’s campuses.”

Held since 2010, the contest features images from Northwestern researchers working in a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, genetics, chemistry, engineering and nanotechnology. The winning images come from Northwestern research projects and cannot be fundamentally altered from their original forms.

Contest images were judged by an interdisciplinary panel of local artists, scientists and community leaders. Brief descriptions of the winning images and those that received honorable mention images follow.

A gallery of the 2016 winners and honorable mentions is available online.

2016 award honorees


First place: “Blood Flow Through the Heart” by Kelly Jarvis, a graduate student in the departments of radiology and biomedical engineering at Northwestern. 

Second place: “3D Printed Bone” by Adam Jakus, a postdoctoral fellow of materials science and engineering at Northwestern.

Third place: “Angle of Repose” by Austin Isner, a graduate student in the department of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern.

Fourth place: “Slow March Through the Desert” by Karna Gowda, a graduate student in the department of applied mathematics at Northwestern.

Fifth place: “Neural Cell Looking for Friends” by Mark McClendon, a staff member in the department of materials science and engineering at Northwestern.

Honorable Mentions

“Better Together,” by Christopher Synatschke
“Magnetic Sunburst,” by Christopher Serrano
“Galaxy Evolution,” by Zachary Hafen
“Split Woman,” by Emily Hoffman
“Waltz of the Filaments,” by Jennifer Davis
“A Colorful World,” by James Hedrick
“Nano Nebula,” by Michael Whittaker

Click here to view the 2015 winners.