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Take Your Best Shot

Take Your Best Shot

Any student who has taken a biology class, or is currently enrolled in one, is encouraged to submit a photo for the Robert Savage Biological Image of the Year Award. Explore this year's submissions in the gallery below.

This year, 25 students - majoring in linguistics, psychology, economics, art, religion, chemistry, visual studies, and political science, in addition to biology - submitted images of scenes from their research, field trips, and journeys around the world. One submitted a confocal time-lapse video. Each year, winners are announced at the department's picnic in May and receive $50 and a large print for themselves. Their art is also framed to hang in Martin Hall.

Initiated three years ago by the biology department, the award honors the College's first professor of cell biology who, when he retired in 1995, was described as the "father of modern biology" on campus. Savage continues his involvement with the department as a judge of the contest, which he describes as "a splendid idea," though admits it is not easy to choose winners.

"Bob is clearly a beloved former professor and we have become friends," says fellow judge Bennett Lorber '64, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Temple University. "Being a judge has been both a pleasure and an honor. I am pleased to give a little something back to the Swarthmore Biology Department, which gave me so much. I am even more pleased to see some quite exceptional images created by current students, images that often balance well the worlds of science and art."

Professor of Studio Art Randall Exon, who rounds out the judge's table, echoes his colleagues when he says that participating in the event is one of the highlights of the year.

2011 Gallery

First Place

Venidium fastuosum

The beautiful colors of a Cape Daisy, Venidium fastuosum, with pollen-covered stamens. Photograph taken with a depth-of-field microscope.

Emily MacDuffie Emily MacDuffie '13
Psychology major
Cape Elizabeth, Me.

Second Place

Arabidopsis Z

This image of Arabidopsis Z stack comes from Martin's extended depth of field microscope, and is essentially Z-stack of photos taken at several depths, compressed into one image where everything is in focus. What you see is an Arabidopsis mutant that was generated by a chemical mutagenesis, performed at Nick Kaplinsky's lab over the summer. This mutant is especially interesting for its spiny meristem - what looks like a long lean backbone here is actually multiple failed attempts to make a flower. This particular mutant strain is connected to an ongoing investigation into developmental effects of BOBBER, a heat-shock protein in plants.

Camille Rogine Camille Rogine '11
Visual Studies: Biological and Societal Imaging
Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Tied for Third Place:

Vitis vinifera

Ripening fruit of Vitis vinifera, also known as the Common Grape Vine. The light from the sun, shining down on the plant, provides energy for the ripening grapes. Photo taken at the gardens of Brucemore Mansion, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Elizabeth Cozart Elizabeth Cozart '12
honors biology major
Denver, Iowa

Tied for Third Place:

nasturtium roo

This is an image of a nasturtium root stained with TBO to show the vascular system of the root structure. The TBO stains the secondary structure a deep blue-purple color and the primary walls a pink color. The image was taken with a Z16 stereo microscope at 2x magnification.

Natalie Campen Natalie Campen '14
Palo Alto, Calif.

the Korean town of Taebek

This photograph was taken in Taebek, which used to be a mining town in Korea. The residue from an abandoned coal mine flows down to the creek and causes a thick layer of white precipitate to form on the bottom of the creek. Similar creeks are red from oxidization of this white precipitate.

Hyee (Leah) Ryun Lee Hyee (Leah) Ryun Lee '14
Seoul, South Korea


Hundreds of spores dot the undersides of these leaves, most likely a variety of fern (Pteridophyta). Plants such as these use spores as a means of reproduction, instead of producing seeds or flowers. Taken in the conservatory at Longwood Gardens on the Bio 2 field trip.

Allison Ranshous '13
Chatham, N.J.

cauline leaf

This images captures the cauline leaf of an EMS mutagenized Arabidopsis family grown in a bobber background. The novel characteristic of this family, and demonstrated in this picture, is that trichomes appear on both the adaxial and abaxial sides of the leaf, whereas only the latter is representative of the wild-type phenotype.

Melissa Frick Melissa Frick '12
honors biology and economics major
Swarthmore, Pa.

immunoreactive cells

The distribution of SCPb-like immunoreactive (SLI) and FMRFamide-like immunoreactive (FLI) cells and processes in a midbody leech Hirudo medicinalis ganglion. Green indicates SLI staining, red indicates FLI staining, and yellow indicates colabeling of both SLI and FLI. The image was visualized using confocal microscopy.

Melissa Zheng Melissa Zheng '13
Los Angeles, Calif.

snail shell

This is an SEM longitudinal view of a snail shell, displaying the smooth bottom layer of the shell and the microstructure of its crossed-lamellar layer.

Kate Walton '11
psychology major, biology minor
Talihina, Okla.

violet green swallow

While doing research in Alaska, I snapped this photo of these adorable Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) chicks begging for food. I'm sure they didn't appreciate all the poking and prodding we subjected them to afterwards, but once we had our data we returned them all safely to their box. The whole nest fledged successfully a week or two later.

Meredyth Duncan '12
honors art and biology major
Falls Church, Va.

ribbed mussel

Rendered unrecognizable at a magnification of 2000x, this scanning electron micrograph depicts the wavelike compound cilia on a gill filament of a ribbed mussel (Geukensia).

Stephanie Chia Stephanie Chia '13
Pleasantville, N.Y.

Patrick Monari Patrick Monari '13
Swarthmore, Pa.

two ducks in Victoria Park, London

Pictured are two ducks resting in Victoria Park, London.

Charlotte Chase Charlotte Chase '11
philosophy major, psychology minor
Worcester, Mass.

Aphrodite's Reincarnation

Aphrodite's Reincarnation (Phalaenopsis aphrodite) Location: Longwood Gardens. This orchid is appropriately named since its overwhelming whiteness, accentuated by a small blotch of color, is almost seducing you to come closer.

Sebastian Bravo Sebastian Bravo '13
Quito, Ecuador

tubular sheaths made by the iron bacterium

Mesh of tubular sheaths made by the iron bacterium Leptothrix ochracea, which oxidizes iron and manganese to form an orange precipitate. This species is often the culprit behind clogged and rusted plumbing. Phase contrast micrograph at 400x magnification.

Amy Langdon Amy Langdon '11
honors biology and chemistry major
Indianapolis, Ind.

ring-tailed lemur

This is Simi, an adult female ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) and one of her babies from my study site at Berenty Reserve in southern Madagascar. Females are entirely responsible for parenting in L. catta. Simi had twins, which are very unusual and probably why she looks a little harried in this photo. Babies cling to their mothers from the moment they're born until around three months of age. I chose this shot because her babies were especially rambunctious and full of life that day - they had begun spending some time off of Simi exploring their surroundings, but retreated to the safety of their mom when they saw my camera lens, something they were unfamiliar with. I also like that you can clearly see the baby's hand and how similar it is to our own.

Jennifer Crick Jennifer Crick '12
honors political science major, minor in history
Chesapeake, Md.

Saucer Magnolia

Saucer Magnolia (magnolia × soulangeana) flower showing floral organ development. Pollen can be seen on the stamens of the flower.

Michelle Call Michelle Sherwood Call '13
biology major, environmental studies and psychology minor
Oakland, Calif.


Confocal image depicting microtubule (green) patterning and chloroplast (red) autofluorescence in Arabidopsis hypocotyl cells.

Daniel Ray Hess '13
religion major
Greencastle, Pa.

Nick Hampilos '13
Ridgwood, N.J.

golden orb weaver

This is a Golden Orb Weaver, a hand-sized spider that I encountered frequently during my stay in Australia. Although they are not one of the many Australian spiders that are dangerous to humans, they will trap and consume the occasional bird.

Camilla Seirup Camilla Seirup '12
honors biology major
Bronxville, N.Y.

Drosophila larvae

This is a confocal z-projection of a Drosophila larvae CNS. The cell(s) labeled green are octopaminergic, and was the only one of many cells to be activated by a heat shock. The background staining of purple is a neuropile/axonal tract staining.

Will Campbell Will Campbell '12
biology major, engineering minor
Santa Barbara, Calif

glass spicule

This is an SEM image taken of a glass spicule in an amphidisk shape on a gemmule. Spicules form the "skeletons" of sponges, and even though many sponges have glass skeletons, the fragments are so small that sponges still feel squishy.

Sam Sellers '11
political science major, public policy minor
Bainbridge Island, Wash

arabidopsis thaliana

This is a confocal time-lapse video of a living heat-shocked Arabidopsis thaliana root expressing BOBBER1:GFP. Images were captured every 15 seconds for one hour and 41 minutes. Growth of the root, organelle dynamics, and movement of heat shock granules (bright green dots) are all visible.

Rosalie Lawrence Rosalie Lawrence '12
honors biology major, chemistry minor
Santa Cruz, Calif.


This is a nasturtium leaf at 40x magnification, grown for Plant Biology with Nick Kaplisnky. This image was part of a composite figure showing chlorophyll distribution between healthy and nutrient-starved leaves.

Karim Sariahmed '13
linguistics major
Morganville, N.J.

Anisocelis foleacea

A flag-footed Anisocelis foleacea defends a passionflower (Passiflora trilby), its plant host, while a third-instar nymph of either the same species or the look-alike Holymena clavier searches for its next snack. Picture taken three miles west of Munichis, Peru, where speakers of Muniche, Shawi, Jebero, San Martin Quechua, and Spanish harvest maricuya, or passionfruit.

Michael Roswell Michael Roswell '11
linguistics and biology major
Baltimore, Md.

Explore the Savage Award submissions for 2010 and 2009.