When Experiments Become Art

The winning entry displayed the top surface of a developing sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis) embryo. Each cell, outlined in white, is in the process of separating its DNA, colored in blue, before it divides in two. The molecular machinery that actively pulls the DNA apart is colored in green.

Every day, scientists train the lenses of their high-powered microscopes onto cells and capture the world that unfolds before them in stunning displays. And once a year, Crossroads, the Stowers postdoc and student organization, calls on them to enter their most dazzling photographs into a scientific image competition, held as part of the Young Investigators Research Days (YIRD).

Although they blur the line between art and science, these amazing images are not art for
art’s sake. Instead, they provide Stowers scientists with valuable insights and important confirmation of processes that occur hidden from the naked eye.

This year’s winning image, submitted by postdoctoral researcher Katerina Ragkousi, PhD, helped answer the question of how epithelial sheets—single layers of tightly packed cells that line every body cavity from the gut to mammary glands—hold together and maintain order as they make room for new cells during cell division (for more details read Averting Chaos).

But for many, they are simply beautiful art.

Click image on the right to view more entries...