SIU Art in Science Competition

Author: Miguel Ramirez Hernandez Edited by: Emil Fristed

There can be beauty in the organised disorder of colours in a protein structure, or in a hidden figure discovered in an otherwise unrelated microscope image. Besides the technical information in a scientific image, there is more to be perceived- the hidden art within science.

Equally relevant, the use of art to communicate science allows us to achieve higher impact by creating an emotional connection with the audience. This art-science connection, we believe, can strengthen the scientific reach and create meaningful bonds between researchers, their work, and the public.

“Both science and art are human attempts to understand and describe the world around us. The subjects and methods have different traditions, and the intended audiences are different, but I think the motivations and goals are fundamentally the same.”  - Professor Dave Featherstone

Within the context of science and art, and in celebration of Oxfordshire’s Artweeks, SIU hosted the first Art in Science competition. This event was sponsored by Oxford Nanoimaging (ONI), an Oxford-based manufacturer of fluorescent microscopy. Dr Ricardo Bastos, ONI's Senior Application Scientist, gave an insightful presentation introducing the innovative applications and products offered by ONI.

The Competition

During the month of April, we asked SIU members and the public to submit images to showcase their scientific art. A total of 75 submissions were received and judged by a professional panel. The award ceremony, held on May 10th 2019 at Oxford University, Department of Earth sciences highlighted the top 11 works.

Special Mention Awards


Following the award ceremony, all the attendees had the opportunity to network and discuss the art images over wine and cheese. Afterwards, the winners were invited for a formal dinner at Merton College, Oxford with the SIU team and the ONI representatives.

We greatly thank our sponsor ONI for providing the awards, including a £150.00 Amazon gift card for the first place winner and the formal dinner.

ONI’s microscope, the Nanoimager, is a powerful tool with a range of applications in the biological and medical fields.The instrument was created using the newest technology in microscopy allowing a much higher resolution in biological systems. In addition to the technological advances achievable by the Nanoimager, Dr Bastos emphasized that the main advantages of their microscope are a result of the design:

·        It is easy to operate with no need for extensive and specialised training.

·        It can be operated with a regular desktop computer without additional infrastructure such as dark rooms.

Most importantly, Dr Bastos mentioned, the microscope can be used as an experimental tool. The goal of ONI is to provide scientists with the ability to use a microscope during experimental procedures. For example, experiments involving mixing liquids, taking time-dependent images, quantification tools, etc, can be easily set in the microscope without extensive training, additional equipment, or prohibitive costs.

Dr Bastos presented a number of case studies for different applications requiring a range of resolutions and experimental conditions. I invite the reader to visit ONI’s website to learn more about the multiple applications for the Nanoimager.