Cellular Filaments, Bacterial ‘Easter Eggs,’ Solar Panel Fungi Win 2022 Envisioning the Invisible Image Contest

3/15/22 Pratt School of Engineering

Image contest at Duke explores and explains the world around us

A symmetrical growth of red cells growing in tendrils reminiscent of wings
Cellular Filaments, Bacterial ‘Easter Eggs,’ Solar Panel Fungi Win 2022 Envisioning the Invisible Image Contest

The 2022 edition of the regular “Envisioning the Invisible” image contest took place on the evening of Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Sharing honors from the selection committee were three fantastic images:

  • Nathan Rayens, a PhD student in the MEMS department working in the laboratory of Christine Payne, was selected for his image of cellular filaments that provide cells with support and organization, and sometimes make Nathan feel like he’s being watched back
  • PhD students Zach Holmes and Yuanchi Ha, along with postdoctoral fellow Andrea Weiss, all members of the BME laboratory of Lingchong You, were selected for bacterial communities trapped in hydrogel capsules that look like decorated eggs
  • Michael Valerino, a CEE PhD student in the laboratory of Mike Bergin, was selected for his photo of twisting fungi reminiscent of a vine strangling a tree that somehow manages to survive on the 140-degree F surface of a solar panel

Two more awards were given for audience choice selections:

  • BME PhD student Vardhman Kumar, working in the laboratory of Shyni Varghese, won recognition for his photo of “DraBot,” a soft robotic dragonfly that is powered by fluid pressure via microchannels embedded within its body
  • The second audience choice award went to August Burns, departmental business manager for the Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics, for a long-exposure photo of an Outer Banks fishing boat run ashore cleverly illuminated by Burns to look like an ancient ghostship

Coordinated by the Duke Engineering Graduate Student Council, the contest is designed to help explore and explain the world around us.  Duke faculty, staff and students are invited to submit their best images for consideration.

Besides awarding four cash prizes, a committee chooses a number of photos to be displayed in an installation in the Atrium of the Fitzpatrick Center. Selected images from previous contest years are on permanent display on Level 1 of the Wilkinson Building. Selected images can also be viewed online at arts.pratt.duke.edu.

Selected Winner: The Watcher

celluala filaments

Selected Winner: Bacterial Easter Eggs

Selected Winner: Envisioning

Tiny fungus tendrils enlarged to almost seem like tree roots curl around themselves on a flat surface

Audience Choice: DraBot

An upside down fluorescent neon robot in the shape of a dragonfly floating against a black backdrop

Audience Choice: Losing Our Way & Finding the Light

A small fishing boat on a beach at night illuminated by a glowing orb nearby