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Bacterial Blooms Win 2019 'Envisioning the Invisible' Contest

Annual contest is designed to help explore and explain the world around us.

The 8th Annual "Envisioning the Invisible" image contest took place on the evening of Friday, February 22, 2019. Taking first place this year was Nan Luo, a postdoctoral researcher in biomedical engineering, with an array of bacterial "blooms" that spontaneously form when bacteria collectively grow into different shapes and patterns depending on their environmental conditions. 

Nikki Votaw and Chelsea Fries, doctoral students in biomedical engineering, took second place with a heightmap showing the contours of nanofibers taken on an atomic force microscope.

Fioleda Kesseli, a postdoctoral researcher in mechanical engineering and materials science, won third place with a blooming structure of directionally freeze-dried chitosan taken with a scanning electron microscope.

Michael Valerino, a doctoral student in environmental engineering, received the "Audience Choice" award for his electron microscope image of dust particles taken from Gandhinagar, India. 

Coordinated by our Engineering Graduate Student Council, the contest is designed to help explore and explain the world around us. Each year, Duke faculty, staff and students are invited to submit their best images for consideration. Besides awarding four cash prizes, the committee chooses a number of photos to be displayed in an art installation in FCIEMAS and online at