Fluorescent turtle embryo wins Nikon Small World competition

Thursday, 31 October, 2019

Fluorescent turtle embryo wins Nikon Small World competition

Nikon Instruments has announced the winners of the 45th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition — a leading showcase for photomicrographers from a wide array of scientific disciplines.

First place in this year’s competition was awarded to microscopy technician Teresa Zgoda and recent university graduate Teresa Kugler, based in Boston and New York respectively, for their visually stunning and painstakingly prepared photo of a turtle embryo. Captured using fluorescence and stereo microscopy, the colourful final image is a masterful example of image-stitching — an imaging technique that required the winning pair to stack and stitch together hundreds of images to create the final image of their turtle.

Adding to the challenge was the size and thickness of the turtle embryo. Creating the final image required precision, patience and deep imaging expertise, as the organism’s size meant only very small parts of the turtle could be imaged on the focal plane at a time.

Both passionate photomicrographers, Kugler and Zgoda say microscopy is a hobby that allows them to spend time on their dual passions of science and creative pursuits. As noted by Kugler, “Microscopy lets us zoom in on the smallest organisms and building blocks that comprise our world, giving us a profound appreciation for the small things in life that far too often go unnoticed. It allows me to do science with a purpose.”

“We are inspired by the beautiful images we see through the microscope,” Zgoda added. “It’s humbling and deeply fulfilling to be able to share that science with other people.”

Eric Flem, Communications Manager at Nikon Instruments, said the goal of Nikon Small World has always been “to show the world how art and science intersect”. According to the judges, this was perfectly exemplified in the winning image.

First place: Fluorescent turtle embryo, 5x magnification (objective lens) — stereomicroscopy and fluorescence. By Teresa Zgoda and Teresa Kugler, Campbell Hall, USA.

Second place was awarded to Nikon Small World veteran Dr Igor Siwanowicz for his composite image of three single-cell freshwater protozoans, sometimes called ‘trumpet animalcules’. He used confocal microscopy to capture the detail of the cilia — tiny hairs used by the animals for feeding and locomotion.

Second place: Depth-colour coded projections of three stentors (single-cell freshwater protozoans), 40x magnification (objective lens) — confocal. By Dr Igor Siwanowicz, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), USA.

In third place is Daniel Smith Paredes, who placed for his image of a developing American alligator embryo. He snapped this photo at around 20 days of development using immunofluorescence and is studying the development and evolution of vertebrate anatomy.

Third place: Alligator embryo developing nerves and skeleton, 10x magnification (objective lens) — immunofluorescence. By Daniel Smith Paredes and Dr Bhart-Anjan S Bhullar, Yale University, USA.

All the winners of this year’s competition — including the Top 20, Honorable Mentions and Images of Distinction — can be found at https://www.nikonsmallworld.com/galleries/2019-photomicrography-competition.

Images courtesy Nikon Small World.

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