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The Art of Science: Biomedical Research Images as Art

Tip top by James Hewinson

Tip top; James Hewinson

Rose by Nathaniel Harran

Rose; Nathaniel Harran

Fluorescent red cell crawling over fluorescent green cells

Tango; Yi Feng

When hexagons collide by Christopher Agnew

When hexagons collide; Christopher Agnew

Brain mesh by Abigail Benn

Brain mesh; Abigail Benn

Mould by Alexander Soloviev

Mould: my beautiful adversary; Alexander Soloviev

Finding their place in the world by Jonathan Potts

Finding their place in the world; Jonathan Potts

Cochlea by Stephanie Hares

Cochlea; Stephanie Hares

Thriving Herd - a 3D world by Lifei Fan

Thriving Herd - a 3D world; Lifei Fan

DNA Origami by Mark Szczelkun

DNA Origami; Mark Szczelkun

Yi Feng
Department of Biochemistry; competition winner

Becky Jones and Rob Nunan
Department of Biochemistry; competition organisers

“The Art of Science” is a competition, set up to enable research scientists to share the aesthetic beauty they see every day, through merging the creative with the experimental.  Entries were accepted from technicians, PhD students, Post-doctoral researchers and Professors working in the Faculty of Medical and Veterinary Science at the University of Bristol.  The 12 winning images from the 2010 competition are wide ranging in their subject material, but importantly, they are all the product of the desire to understand and share the function of the human body, which drives the medical discoveries made in science today.

More about the Art of Science competition

Yi Feng

My research is complicated but interesting.  Every day a different problem arises.  But for every problem there is a solution! To progress you have to be creative and in that respect science is not that different to art.  For me, the creativity of science means looking at an object that everyone sees but asking a question that nobody has asked and finding an elegant way to solve it.

As a biologist, I’m interested in how the immune system influences the early stages of cancer growth.  My image titled ‘Tango’ is a result of introducing genes that produce fluorescent proteins into specific cell types of a Zebrafish.  Importantly, due to the transparent nature of this model organism we can see the immune cells (red) actively seeking and interacting with cancerous cells (green). Seeing these cells moving around the body then being attracted to the cancer cells in real time is amazing.

It is important for me, as a scientist, to make sure that the images are scientifically interesting and useful as part of results of my research. The Art of Science was a perfect opportunity to share this incredible sight and also to highlight an aesthetically beautiful image also contains very  important scientific information.

More about Yi Feng.

Becky Jones and Rob Nunan

Our question - Can research science be art…?

The aim of “The Art of Science” competition was to unravel the enigma behind medical research today and give an insight into “life in the lab” that is shielded from public view. So often the scientist encounters these images without thought for their beauty or impact. Our challenge was to encourage those in lab coats to look at their work and their environment from a new angle; to produce the body of work exhibited. The 12 winning images are a beautiful showcase selected form over 100 entries. The majority focus on core research - from fantastic fluorescent cancer cells to the culture of protein crystals, and a stunning electron micrograph of the Cochlea. But along with these are some more abstract portrayals of life as a research scientist - with a beautiful photograph of mould on a Petri dish, and a unique DNA origami sculpture.

The competition was set up in 2009, and has grown from strength to strength, due to great support and enthusiasm. The images have been generously exhibited in The Bristol Gallery, at-Bristol café, The Festival of Nature and The Telegraph science pages.

Images are showcased on The Telegraph Science page

More about Becky Jones and Rob Nunan.

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