PSD alumna and students win ‘Science as Art’ contest

March 28, 2022

The University of Chicago announced the winners of its inaugural “Science as Art” contest, which called for images from scientific research—be they from microscopes, computer simulations or X-rays.

From neurons to nanoparticles, the entries display the gorgeous landscape of scientific research going on every day at the University of Chicago. More than 100 images were submitted to the contest from undergraduates, graduate students, staff, alumni, postdoctoral researchers and faculty members.

PSD alumni and students were among the winners.

More on this year's results:

Grand Prize

Chondrules in Meteorite #5 by Nicole Xike Nie, Geophysical Sciences PhD'19

The grand-prize winner, chosen by a team of judges, is Chondrules in Meteorites #5,” by UChicago alum Nicole Xike Nie, Ph.D.’19, Department of the Geophysical Sciences, Origins lab.

Now a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Nie submitted the image from her research on the molecular makeup of meteorites, which can tell us what the conditions were like in the earliest days of our solar system.

The caption reads: “This photograph shows a thin section of a primitive meteorite called a chondrite. The various colors suggest different minerals that comprise the whole rock. The blue area in the center is what’s called a chondrule. It formed in space when a molten, millimeter-sized silicate droplet crystallized. Chondrules are among the oldest known materials in our solar system.”

The image was taken with a microscope using polarized light, but the color is not altered in any way.

Audience Favorite

In the picture, you're seeing one of the two 6.5 meter Magellan Telescopes on the left. The band of dark
Magellan Telescopes & the Milky Way by Adina Feinstein, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics student

The audience favorite, chosen by a March Madness-style bracket on UChicago’s social media channels, is:

Magellan Telescopes & the Milky Way,” a photograph at the Magellan Telescopes taken by fourth-year astrophysics Ph.D. student Adina Feinstein.

Feinstein wrote: “This was the last time I was down observing at the Magellan Telescopes in Chile before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. On this run, I was observing several transiting planets, or planets crossing between us and their host star, with the goal of measuring their spin-orbit alignment. The spin-orbit alignment between a planet and its star can inform us on the planet's formation and migration history. I took this photo during a long exposure of one of my fainter targets of the night. In the picture, you're seeing one of the two 6.5-meter Magellan Telescopes on the left. The band of dark “clouds” and pink streaking up from the top of the telescope is the center of our very own Milky Way galaxy.”

Honorable Mention

An image of Mary Calvert, astronomer at Yerkes Observatory, overlaid on a scan of Plate 8 in E. E. Barnard's Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way.
A Large Share by undergraduates Rowen Glusman and Isaiah Escapa, and project manager Lauren Boegen

A Large Share,” submitted by undergraduates Rowen Glusman and Isaiah Escapa and project manager Lauren Boegen. The image depicts Mary Calvert, an astronomer at Yerkes Observatory in the 20th century; her photo is overlaid on a plate from E. E. Barnard's Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way which contains her handwriting. The submitters wrote, “According to Edwin Frost, Calvert was responsible for "a large share" of the editorial duties for the Atlas.” The plate features in an upcoming publication from their group.

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