Picture This!

In the annual Robert Savage Image Award contest, the Biology Department encourages students to consider the intersections of science and art.

Now in its ninth year, the contest is open to any student who has taken a biology course or is enrolled in one during the time of the contest regardless of their major. This year, students majoring in anthropology, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and Spanish, in addition to biology, submitted images of scenes from their research, field trips, and journeys around the world. 

The winners were announced at the department's picnic in May. They each received $60 from the Robert Savage Fund and will have their images displayed in Martin Hall. 

The images were judged based on their artistic and scientific merit by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Professor of Art Randall Exon and Temple University Professor of Medicine (and painter) Bennett Lorber '64.

Lorber enjoys judging the contest each year. "Through the variety of submissions I am reminded of the infinite wonder and beauty of the natural world. Striking and sometimes startling visual experiences are all around us if we just take the time to look closely," he says. "It is also nice to be reminded that doing science can lead us to stunning visual experiences."

The award is named for Robert Savage, the College's first professor of cell biology, and active participant in judging the contest up until his death last spring. In memory, Walter Kemp Professor in the Natural Sciences and Professor of Biology Rachel Merz reflected on Savage's lasting impact on the department. “Bob Savage’s philosophies on science and education and his sense of fun were a potent combination," she said. "His example imbued his younger colleagues with perspectives that still define the Biology Department’s character. In that way he continues to contribute to the training of our current students in ways they, or he, might never guess."

A selection of images from the contest's previous eight years will be displayed in Cornell Library.

First Place - Lydia Roe '20

Caterpillars in a crabapple tree

"This photo was taken in a Crabapple tree, Malus rosaceae, outside of Wharton dorm. The Eastern tent caterpillars shown, Malacosoma americanum, are native critters that generally do not kill trees but can defoliate and damage them. Their tents are also not the most attractive and, after getting the go-ahead from Scott Arboretum, I squished this bunch," writes Roe.

Second Place - Lillian Fornof '20

An African elephant

Taken at the Pittsburgh Zoo, this photograph captures Nan, an African Elephant, in her enclosure. As these elephants become more vulnerable from poaching and habitat loss, zoos and rescue facilities become vital components in maintaining the species.

Third Place - Karl Palmquist '17

an acorn worm

Image depicts the hemichordate Saccoglossus kowalevskii, commonly known as the acorn worm. This image was taken using brightfield microscopy at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. The specimen was collected from a tidal pool near Waquoit Bay, Mass.