Digital imaging competition brings bug-eyed splendor


The Olympus BioScapes competition has honored images and movies of human, plant and animal subjects as captured through light microscopes for the past eight years. Entries are judged based on the science they depict, their aesthetics, and their technical merit.

"These images and movies tell stories about some of the most important and compelling research being done today," Osamu Joji, Group Vice President and General Manager, Scientific Equipment Group at Olympus America Inc., told BioOptics World.

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CARMEN PULIAFITO, MD, MBA, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (Los Angeles), consultant for Carl Zeiss Meditec, and co-inventor of OCT

First Prize in the competition went to Dr. Igor Siwanowicz of the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology (Munich, Germany), whose eye-popping image of a Daddy Longlegs reveals the wide-eyed wonder of the specimen, also known as a Harvestman or Phalangium opilio (see Fig. 1). This depth color-coded projection of a confocal microscope image was selected from about 2,000 images and movies to earn First Prize–$5,000 worth of Olympus equipment.

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FIGURE 1. Dr. Igor Siwanowicz garnered First Prize for his image of a Daddy Longlegs taken using confocal microscopy. The sample was stained to visualize nuclei and F-actin, and shows not only the eyes' lenses (two large ovals), but also the retinas and optic nerves (trailing down at center back). (Image courtesy of Dr. Igor Siwanowicz and Olympus America)

The Second Prize-winning image by Thomas Deerinck of the University of California-San Diego's National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research reflects advancements in cell biology and neuroscience. His image of a rat hippocampus, the part of the brain involved with spatial navigation and memory, resembles a beautiful, undulating ocean wave as it might have been painted by an Impressionist artist a century ago (see Fig. 2).

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FIGURE 2. Thomas Deerinck captured this image of a rat hippocampus–a part of the brain involved with spatial navigation and memory–earning him Second Prize in the Olympus BioScapes competition. His specimen was stained to reveal the distribution of glia (cyan), neurofilaments (green) and cell nuclei (yellow). (Image courtesy of Thomas Deerinck and Olympus America)

Third Prize went to an electrifying image of coral captured by James Nicholson of the Coral Culture & Collaborative Research Facility, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Fort Johnson Marine Lab (Charleston, SC; see Fig. 3).

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FIGURE 3. The Olympus BioScapes competition recognized James Nicholson's image of coral as the Third Prize winner, which shows the coral's acrospheres–or tentacle tips–enhanced by reflected illumination and a type of epifluorescence that is achieved without using a barrier filter. (Image courtesy of James Nicholson and Olympus America)

Throughout 2011, 20 of the winning and Honorable Mention images are being exhibited at museums of science and industry and on university campuses, and other exhibits of BioScapes images simultaneously will tour cities across the U.S., Mexico, South America and Canada. All images and the names of honorees may be viewed online at

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