Nikon announced the winners of the 2012 Small World Photomicrography Competition

1st place: Dr. Jennifer L. Peters and Dr. Michael R. Taylor (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital) “The blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo”

Nikon announced the winners of the 2012 Small World photomicrography competition:


October 23, 2012

Nikon is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Small World Photomicrography Competition, with this year’s top honors going to Dr. Jennifer Peters and Dr. Michael Taylor of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Their photomicrograph, “The blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo” is believed to be the first-ever image showing the formation of the blood-brain barrier in a live animal.

Nikon Small World recognizes excellence in photomicrography, honoring Drs. Peters and Taylor along with 97 other winners from around the world – some of whom won multiple times – who submitted images that showcase the delicate balance between outstanding scientific technique and exquisite artistic quality.

“Year over year, we receive incredible images from all over the world for the Nikon Small World Competition, and it is our privilege to honor and showcase these talented researchers and photomicrographers,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager, Nikon Instruments. “We are proud that this competition is able to demonstrate the true power of scientific imaging and its relevance to both the scientific communities as well as the general public.”

First place winners Peters and Taylor partnered to capture the image highlighting their research of the blood brain barrier. “We used fluorescent proteins to look at brain endothelial cells and watched the blood-brain barrier develop in real-time,” said Drs. Peters and Taylor. “We took a 3-dimensional snapshot under a confocal microscope.  Then, we stacked the images and compressed them into one – pseudo coloring them in rainbow to illustrate depth.”

The top five images this year come from a wide variety of artistic visual concepts and scientific disciplines who all share a common goal of outstanding photomicrographs that demonstrate superior technical competency and artistic skill.

Top Five Images:

1. Dr. Jennifer L. Peters and Dr. Michael R. Taylor, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; “The blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo”

2. Walter Piorkowski, “Live newborn lynx spiderlings”

3. Dr. Dylan Burnette, National Institutes of Health; “Human bone cancer (osteosarcoma) showing actin filaments (purple), mitochondria (yellow), and DNA (blue)”

4. Dr. W. Ryan Williamson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI); “Drosophila melanogaster visual system halfway through pupal development, showing retina (gold), photoreceptor axons (blue), and brain (green)”

5. Honorio Cócera-La Parra, University of Valencia; “Cacoxenite (mineral) from La Paloma Mine, Spain”

This year’s judges were once again comprised of top science and media industry experts:

Daniel Evanko, Editor, Nature Methods; Martha Harbison, Senior Editor, Popular Science; Dr. Robert D. Goldman, Stephen Walter Ranson Professor and Chair, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and Liza A. Pon, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology and Director, Confocal and Specialized Microscopy Shared Resource, Columbia University.

Top images from the 2012 Nikon Small World Competition will be exhibited in a full-color calendar and through a national museum tour. Follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter @NikonSmallWorld.

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  • Christobella

    Coooooool photo

    • Christobella

      Cool photos, plural, actually

  • Aldo

    I’ll just pull out the human brain I have in my garage and take some close ups… that should do it. Really man come on? this contest is BS. Next time call it nerd contest (no skill required, just expensive micro lens)

    • e

      jealous a tad?

      • Aldo


    • Ben

      Aldo, really, have you used a confocal microscope, done the staining etc etc. This is not easy… you could call HCBs photos as snapshots or dismiss sports photographers for just being lucky and having expensive lenses”.

      I find these photos quite fascinating.

      • Big J

        I agree…. hard as hell the idea to come up with photos like these. Also kinda depressed in the older contest photos that were posted earlier about the “Water Flea” portrait that made it to 10th place. I thought it was a winner that one.

      • Aldo

        good point…. still nerd science photography imo. nothing candid about this work… all premeditated in a controlled environment. fascinating? yes… but so is the rest of the microscopic world. I’m sure that if I can take a picture of a splitting atom I would get first place… so where is the skill? the price should be given to the person who designed my heat suit that withstood 5000 kelvin and the lens maker who designed the device that made it possible to see atoms. Get my drift ?

        • Well, we’re all entitled to our opinions 🙂 but to me that’s like saying Nike (or whoever made Usain Bolt’s shoes) should get the sports photography prizes instead of awarding it to the photographers who photographed Usain crossing the finish lines to set new world records in the sprint events he won 🙂

          • I meant ‘awarding them’ not ‘awarding it’, sorry for the typo. In any case, these are great microphotographs. I’ve seen some that I’ve liked better but these are amazing and require quite a lot of photographic skill and knowledge in all areas – from the concepts themselves to preparation, lighting, exposure and composition.

            • Aldo

              you couldn’t have given a worse example to support your opinion… Bolt has no skill.. merely a physical ability. When you combine running with a skill… that’s when you get a professional sport player e.g. soccer, basketball, gymnastics. In other words… running is merely another tool. Bolt has been trying left and right to get into a professional sport where he has been rejected time after time. He is only good for running and advertisement.

            • Well, seems Usain’s pretty good at running Olympic sprints, winning gold medals and setting and re-setting world records 😉 and at beating many people around the world who do have skill in sprinting. Plus, people who have no skill don’t get those kinds of advertisement opportunities.

              Understanding skill, be it skill in photography or in sports, really takes understanding what it requires to get really good at something. World-class sports requires tremendous skill, as does world-class microphotography. Or world-class anything.

              But you’re entitled to your opinion, right or wrong. Peace.

  • These are some great pictures, and as someone with a specific interest in the research into Zebra fish in relation to heart regeneration, it is encouraging to see that they have managed to study this fish at such an intricate level. Let’s hope it brings some genuine breakthroughs very soon…..

  • yapck

    The 1st place photo resemble Singapore Map. Pls check….

    What a coincidence!!

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