Finalists EnFoco 2020

I SRUK/CERU Photography Competition 2020

Finalist and Winner Photographs

Finally! These are the 12 finalist photographs selected by the external panel. They are the best 4 from each of the following categories:

  • Originality and artistic character of the image
  • Technique and quality of the photograph
  • Research communication conveyed by the photograph, title and description

Nano-Sea Urchin

Growth of zinc oxide based nanostructures using dopants such as gallium in chemical vapor transport processes can result in beautiful and fantastic images such as the one presented here. The high-resolution scanning electron microscopy image permits to distinguish every facet of the nanostructure, observing hexagonal-like cross section, as well as, a modulation of their diameter along the rod stem. Simply fabulous!

Lively Cytoskeleton

Beatriz Castejón Vega
Winner of Technique and quality of the photograph

The image shows a human dermal fibroblast, a type of cell widely used in research, which is responsible for making the extracellular matrix and collagen. Actin (magenta) and tubulin (cyan) are proteins which form the cellular cytoskeleton, an essential structure that helps cells to maintain their shape, internal organization and support them to perform crucial cellular functions like movement and division.


Paula Rodríguez Villamayor Winner of Originality and artistic character of the image

Transversal section of the rabbit nasal cavity. The nasal turbinates are located at both sides of the nasal septum. The vomeronasal organ is a double structure located ventrally to the septum and protected by cartilaginous tissue. It is involved in the first processing step of the accessory olfactory system, mainly implicated in pheromones detection and thus in animal behaviour control.

Laser speckle photogrammetry

A requirement for photogrammetry is that the object must count with some observable surface texture. For surfaces with a sufficient surface texture a random pattern can be physically painted onto the object, for this research a laser speckle pattern was projected onto the object hoping to achieve similar results.

Glial cells: the beauty of the brain

Glial cells, are more than “glue” for the neurons as they were described. In the picture, we observe a glial culture which includes stem cells knowns as oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs)(green nuclear circles), oligodendrocytes derived from OPCs which branch and form spider nets to wrap myelin around neurons (white and red) and astrocytes (cyan) which are key for brain communication.

The yolk sac roller coaster

Image of the mouse yolk sac, an extra-embryonic structure that is especially important for nutrient provision during the first half gestation, before formation of the functional placenta at embryonic day 9.5 of development. The visceral endoderm (green) attaches to the extraembryonic mesoderm (red) to generate yolk sac blood islands, the first site of hematopoiesis in mammalian embryos.

Crystals of degradation

When alloys are exposed to the environment, they tend to come back to their original state as compounds. An example of steel exposed to CO2 saturated environments is presented in this SEM picture; crystals or siderite and chukanovite are formed during the corrosion process. Nature is able to present beauty even during a degradation process.

Convergent-Beam Electron Diffraction pattern in CrMnFeNi high entropy alloy

The diffraction of high energy focused electrons from planes of periodic arrangements of atoms results in disk patterns such as this one. These patterns can be observed in transmission electron microscopes operating at 200,000 Volts on nano-sized samples. This sample is a high-entropy alloy of Cr, Mn, Fe, and Ni. This alloy has been investigated for applications to nuclear fusion.

The vascular maze

Blood vessels function to transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The inner aspect of blood vessels consists of a lining of endothelial cells, which regulate the passage of solutes and immune cells to the underlying tissues. Tracking endothelial cells over time with different fluorescent proteins helps to understand how they organise during health and disease to regulate blood vessel functions.

Silence, we are… Thinking!

Rat brain coronal section at the level of the dorsal (left) and ventral hippocampus (right). The immediate early genes mRNA of Homer1a (green) and Arc (red) revealed by fluorescence double “In situ” hybridization technique allow us to capture the temporal activation of neurons occurring 25-35 min (Homer) and 5-10 min (Arc) before. Blue: nuclear staining with DAPI. Scale 2000 μm.

Hidden diversity

Pablo Muñoz Rodríguez
Winner elected by SRUK/CERU members and Friends

Thousands of plant species are still unknown to science. Surprisingly, many of them were collected and deposited in herbaria decades or centuries ago but nobody has studied them since then. Herbaria are thus paramount for botanical research but also a major frontier for species discovery: many new species are sitting in these piles of hidden diversity, awaiting to be discovered.

I do not want to die!

Pilar Acedo Núñez
Winner of Research communication

In this image you can see two Hela cancer cells (human cervix adenocarcinoma) starting to die after a light-based cancer treatment called Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). This clinically approved therapeutic modality induces oxidative stress after the use of light-activated drugs. The photo was taken by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) 3 hours post-treatment.