Nikon Small World 2011 Winners: Photographs Through the Microscope [Gallery]

The winners of the 2011 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition have been just announced.

  • 20th Place: Douglas Moore, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA. Agatised dinosaur bone cells, unpolished, ca. 150 million years old (42X), Stereomicroscopy, fiber optics  Photo: Douglas Moore/Nikon Small World20th Place: Douglas Moore, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA. Agatised dinosaur bone cells, unpolished, ca. 150 million years old (42X), Stereomicroscopy, fiber optics Photo: Douglas Moore/Nikon Small World
  • 19th Place: Dr. Donna Stolz, The University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Mammalian cell collage stained for various proteins and organelles, assembled into a wreath (200-2000X), Single slice confocal cell mosaic. Photo: Dr. Donna Stolz/Nikon Small World19th Place: Dr. Donna Stolz, The University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Mammalian cell collage stained for various proteins and organelles, assembled into a wreath (200-2000X), Single slice confocal cell mosaic. Photo: Dr. Donna Stolz/Nikon Small World
  • 18th Place: Benjamin Blonder, David Elliott, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA. Venation network of young Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen) leaf (4X), Brightfield image of safranin-stained tissue. Photo: Benjamin Blonder, David Elliott/Nikon Small World18th Place: Benjamin Blonder, David Elliott, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA. Venation network of young Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen) leaf (4X), Brightfield image of safranin-stained tissue. Photo: Benjamin Blonder, David Elliott/Nikon Small World
  • 17th Place: Dr. Witold Kilarski, EPFL-Laboratory of Lymphatic and Cancer Bioengineering, Lausanne, Switzerland. Litomosoides sigmodontis (filaria worms) inside lymphatic vessels of the mouse ear (150X), Fluorescent confocal microscopy. Photo: Dr. Witold Kilarski/ Nikon Small World17th Place: Dr. Witold Kilarski, EPFL-Laboratory of Lymphatic and Cancer Bioengineering, Lausanne, Switzerland. Litomosoides sigmodontis (filaria worms) inside lymphatic vessels of the mouse ear (150X), Fluorescent confocal microscopy. Photo: Dr. Witold Kilarski/ Nikon Small World
  • 16th Place: Dr. Christopher GuĂ©rin, VIB (Flanders Institute of Biotechnology), Ghent, Belgium. Cultured cells growing on a bio-polymer scaffold (63X), Confocal. Photo: Dr. Christopher GuĂ©rin/16th Place: Dr. Christopher GuĂ©rin, VIB (Flanders Institute of Biotechnology), Ghent, Belgium. Cultured cells growing on a bio-polymer scaffold (63X), Confocal  Picture: Dr. Christopher GuĂ©rin/Nikon Small World16th Place: Dr. Christopher GuĂ©rin, VIB (Flanders Institute of Biotechnology), Ghent, Belgium. Cultured cells growing on a bio-polymer scaffold (63X), Confocal. Photo: Dr. Christopher GuĂ©rin/16th Place: Dr. Christopher GuĂ©rin, VIB (Flanders Institute of Biotechnology), Ghent, Belgium. Cultured cells growing on a bio-polymer scaffold (63X), Confocal Picture: Dr. Christopher GuĂ©rin/Nikon Small World
  • 15th Place: James H. Nicholson, Coral Culture and Collaborative Research Facility, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCEHBR & HML Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Porites lobata (lobe coral), live specimen displaying tissue pigmentation response with red fluorescence (12X), Epifluorescence with triple band (U/B/G) excitation. Photo: James H. Nicholson, Coral Culture and Collaborative Research Facility/Nikon Small World15th Place: James H. Nicholson, Coral Culture and Collaborative Research Facility, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCEHBR & HML Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Porites lobata (lobe coral), live specimen displaying tissue pigmentation response with red fluorescence (12X), Epifluorescence with triple band (U/B/G) excitation. Photo: James H. Nicholson, Coral Culture and Collaborative Research Facility/Nikon Small World
  • 14th Place: Yanping Wang, Beijing Planetarium, Beijing, China. Sand (4X), Reflected light. Photo: Yanping Wang/Nikon Small World14th Place: Yanping Wang, Beijing Planetarium, Beijing, China. Sand (4X), Reflected light. Photo: Yanping Wang/Nikon Small World
  • 13th Place: Dr. Stephen S. Nagy, Montana Diatoms Helena, Montana, USA. Curare vine in cross-section, Chondrodendron tomentosum (45X), Brightfield, digitally inverted. Photo:Dr. Stephen S. Nagy/Nikon Small World13th Place: Dr. Stephen S. Nagy, Montana Diatoms Helena, Montana, USA. Curare vine in cross-section, Chondrodendron tomentosum (45X), Brightfield, digitally inverted. Photo:Dr. Stephen S. Nagy/Nikon Small World
  • 12th Place: Thomas Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, La Jolla, California, USA. HeLa (cancer) cells (300X), 2-Photon fluorescence. Photo: Thomas Deerinck/Nikon Small World12th Place: Thomas Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, La Jolla, California, USA. HeLa (cancer) cells (300X), 2-Photon fluorescence. Photo: Thomas Deerinck/Nikon Small World
  • 11th Place: Dr. Jan Michels, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany. Ant head, frontal view (10X), Confocal, autofluorescence  Picture: Dr. Jan Michels/Nikon Small World11th Place: Dr. Jan Michels, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany. Ant head, frontal view (10X), Confocal, autofluorescence Picture: Dr. Jan Michels/Nikon Small World
  • 10th Place: Joan Röhl, Institute for Biochemistry and Biology Potsdam, Germany. Daphnia magna (freshwater water flea) (100X), Differential Interference Contrast. Photo: Joan Röhl/ Nikon Small World10th Place: Joan Röhl, Institute for Biochemistry and Biology Potsdam, Germany. Daphnia magna (freshwater water flea) (100X), Differential Interference Contrast. Photo: Joan Röhl/ Nikon Small World
  • 9th Place: Dr. Jan Michels, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany. Temora longicornis (marine copepod), ventral view (10X), Confocal, Autofluorescence and Congo Red Fluorescence. Photo: Dr. Jan Michels/Nikon Small World9th Place: Dr. Jan Michels, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany. Temora longicornis (marine copepod), ventral view (10X), Confocal, Autofluorescence and Congo Red Fluorescence. Photo: Dr. Jan Michels/Nikon Small World
  • 8th Place: Dr. Bernardo Cesare, Department of Geosciences Padova, Italy. Graphite-bearing granulite from Kerala (India) (2.5X), Polarised light. Photo: Dr. Bernardo Cesare/Nikon Small World8th Place: Dr. Bernardo Cesare, Department of Geosciences Padova, Italy. Graphite-bearing granulite from Kerala (India) (2.5X), Polarised light. Photo: Dr. Bernardo Cesare/Nikon Small World
  • 7th Place: Gabriel Luna, UC Santa Barbara, Neuroscience Research Institute, Santa Barbara, California, USA. Retinal flatmount of mouse nerve fiber layer (40X), Laser Confocal Scanning. Photo: Gabriel Luna/Nikon Small World7th Place: Gabriel Luna, UC Santa Barbara, Neuroscience Research Institute, Santa Barbara, California, USA. Retinal flatmount of mouse nerve fiber layer (40X), Laser Confocal Scanning. Photo: Gabriel Luna/Nikon Small World
  • 6th Place: Dennis Callahan, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA. Cracked gallium arsenide solar cell films (50X), Brightfield  Photo: Dennis Callahan/Nikon Small World6th Place: Dennis Callahan, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA. Cracked gallium arsenide solar cell films (50X), Brightfield Photo: Dennis Callahan/Nikon Small World
  • 5th Place: Alfred Pasieka, Germany. Microchip surface, 3D reconstruction (500X), Incident light, Normarski Interference Contrast. Photo: Alfred Pasieka/Nikon Small World5th Place: Alfred Pasieka, Germany. Microchip surface, 3D reconstruction (500X), Incident light, Normarski Interference Contrast. Photo: Alfred Pasieka/Nikon Small World
  • 4th Place: Dr. Robin Young, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Intrinsic fluorescence in Lepidozia reptans (liverwort) (20X), Live mount, Confocal microscopy  Photo: Dr. Robin Young/Nikon Small World4th Place: Dr. Robin Young, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Intrinsic fluorescence in Lepidozia reptans (liverwort) (20X), Live mount, Confocal microscopy Photo: Dr. Robin Young/Nikon Small World
  • 3rd Place: Frank Fox, Fachhochschule Trier, Trier, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. Melosira moniliformis, living specimen (320X), Differential Interference Contrast. Photo: Frank Fox/Nikon Small World3rd Place: Frank Fox, Fachhochschule Trier, Trier, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. Melosira moniliformis, living specimen (320X), Differential Interference Contrast. Photo: Frank Fox/Nikon Small World
  • 2nd Place: Dr. Donna Stolz, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Blade of Grass (200X), Confocal stack reconstruction, Autofluorescence. Photo: Dr. Donna Stolz/Nikon Small World2nd Place: Dr. Donna Stolz, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Blade of Grass (200X), Confocal stack reconstruction, Autofluorescence. Photo: Dr. Donna Stolz/Nikon Small World
  • 1st Place: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany. Portrait of a Chrysopa sp. (green lacewing) larva (20x), Confocal. Photo: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz/Nikon Small World1st Place: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany. Portrait of a Chrysopa sp. (green lacewing) larva (20x), Confocal. Photo: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz/Nikon Small World

The winners of the 2011 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition have been announced. This year’s top honours go to Dr Igor Siwanowicz with a micrograph that demonstrates the beauty in “ugly”. When a small bug landed on Dr Siwanowicz’s hand and began digging its mandibles into his skin, he didn’t swat it away.

Instead, he removed a tiny test tube from his pocket – which he carries for occasions such as these – and captured it as a potential subject for his photomicrography passion. This chance meeting with a Common Green Lacewing led to him being named the winner of the 2011 Nikon Small World competition. Meanwhile, popular voting remains open until Oct. 30.

Stink bug on acid: An iridescent polychromatic jewel-mimicking stink bug (or true bug) from Borneo.Fancy. But stinks all the same. Photo and caption by Igor Siwanowicz via Blepharopsis.deviantart.com

“Traveling with a test tube (or bunch of them) falls under perfectly normal naturalist’s behavior,” said Siwanowicz, who after studying protein crystallography found a career using his skills in confocal microscopy and invertebrate photography.

“I have several reasons to carry all sorts of receptacles with me at all times: I take photos of insects, and sometimes don’t have a camera on my body.”

Using a technique he perfected while photographing fruit flies, Siwanowicz preserved the insect in formaldehyde, encased it in a pea-sized block of agar, then placed it in a microtome – a machine that slices the specimen into super-thin strips.

He dyed the slices to help emphasize certain parts of the bug’s anatomy, then created the final image, which was assembled as a photomosaic from six different pictures.

Posing - You're Doing It 'Ok': Acanthops, a South-American shriveled-up leaf mimick. Posing - an undisputable aspect of mantids' behavior, although you won't find it mentioned on their ethogram. Photo and caption by Igor Siwanowicz via Blepharopsis.deviantart.com

Thanks in part to the green lacewing larva’s formidable mandible, the award-winning picture makes the tiny insect look a powerful predator.

“Every life form provides unlimited abundance of exquisite designs and solutions (all of them non-copyrighted and royalty-free!), all along the scale from the level of an organism down to the realm of molecules,” said Siwanowicz.

35-year-old Siwanowicz, who mainly photographs insects, says he is proud of his ability to show beauty in animals that are commonly considered ugly.

“Usual evolutionary restraints don’t seem to apply within the realm of tiny animals, which is evident in the abundance and variety of often grotesque and utterly alien forms,” he told The Huffington Post.

“Microscopy allows me to see beyond the cuticle, explore the baroque arrangement of muscle fibers or intricate fractal-like network of neurons, and appreciate that beauty – probably in the most subjective sense possible – isn’t only skin deep,” he added.

Images taken through photomicrography often appear abstract, and Siwanowicz says he has been praised for his figurative depictions of insects.

“I often hear that the animals in my photographs seem to have grace, style, or even human character; I am apparently able to convey through photography my attitude towards living creatures and nature in general – which is that of respect and admiration,” he said.

Now in its 37th year, the Nikon Small World contest recognises excellence in photomicrography, honouring images that successfully showcase the delicate balance between scientific technique and artistic quality. A full gallery of winning images, along with Images of Distinction can be viewed at www.nikonsmallworld.com.

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