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2018 Images of Research Competition

Knowledge is beautiful. Researchers at the U of S know it better than anyone.

The fourth annual edition of University of Saskatchewan Images of Research Photo and Imaging Competition has now closed. The competition is an avenue for U of S students, staff, faculty and alumni to showcase the groundbreaking research, scholarly and artistic work taking place at the U of S.


A Squirrel in the Hand is Worth the Whole World,  Andrea Wishart, Grand Prize Winner 2018

The U of S community submitted images from a wide selection of categories - 

  • From the field: Images which demonstrate the researcher’s experience doing field work anywhere in the world
  • More than meets the eye: Images which reveal the subject in greater detail than is possible with the human eye (eg. x-rays, creative expression, microscopic images, computer models, etc.)
  • Community and impact: Images which represent the impact the researcher’s work has had or could have on people, the environment, health, the economy, etc.
  • Research in action: Images which demonstrate what the researcher's work is all about
  • Viewers' choice: Images which received the highest number of votes during a public voting period
  • Best description: Images accompanied by the clearest, most informative and most vibrant descriptions and titles

Then, panels of judges convened for each category to choose a winner, a runner-up, and a Grand Prize winner. 

The submitted images are also presented to the entire campus community for voting, and choosing a Viewer's Choice award.

The results are nothing short of amazing!

2018 Images of Research Winners

See all the 2018 submissions 

A squirrel in the hand

A Squirrel in the Hand is Worth the Whole World, Grand Prize

Andrea Wishart, doctoral student in biology      

One person keeps their eyes on the nest while the other starts to climb the tree. It is a race that pits human against mother squirrel in a vertical obstacle course race to reach the precious nest contents. We last saw this same baby North American red squirrel “pup” 25 days ago, after tracking mom's pregnancy and finding her pups within a day of being born. Back then, we weighed, sexed, and marked them, all in anticipation of today: ear tag day! Both of these dates are critical to our long-term squirrel monitoring project (the first because the day a mother squirrel gives birth is under natural selection and can give her babies an edge in certain years; the second, because giving each individual unique tags allows us to track their key life moments from birth to death). This squirrel, newly tagged, is being hand delivered back home, to snuggle into the natal nest with mom.

Funders: Northern Scientific Training Program, NSERC


Cell party

Cell Party in Asthmatic Lung, Viewer’s choice, first place

Nguyen Phuong Khanh Le, doctoral student in veterinary biomedical sciences

Asthma is one of the most severe forms of respiratory disease, causing high mortality, morbidity and associated economic losses globally. However, its etiology is still ambiguous. This confocal image shows intense expression of Leukocyte-Specific Protein 1 (LSP1, green) on the lungs of a mouse model of asthma. Many inflammatory cells, including lymphocytes (L), macrophages(M), and eosinophils as well as neutrophils (G), are recruited into the airway, thus destroying the lungs and their functions. Our finding that deficiency of LSP1 can alleviate asthma in this model suggests LSP1 as a potential target for therapeutic intervention in asthma in humans. (Authors: Nguyen Phuong Khanh Le, Amanda Nascimento, David Schneberger, Chi Cuong Quach, Xiaobei Zhang, Dawicki Wojciech, Lixin Liu, John Gordon, and Baljit Singh.)

Funder: NSERC



Campo, Viewer’s choice, runner up 

Zayda Morales, doctoral student in food and bioproduct sciences

Wheat Field in Saskatchewan. My research will contribute with new knowledge of the microbiota naturally carried by wheat seeds and it will give new tools for plant breeders (with help of Yolanda Iannucci).

Funders: Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Global Institute for Food Security, Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre (P2IRC)

Citizen scientists, global stewardship

Citizen scientists, global stewardship, Community and Impact, first place

Steven Mamet, post-doctoral fellow in soil science        

Long-term ecological monitoring is essential for placing ecosystem change into a historical context. In the confluence of the Selwyn and Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territories, we began recording permafrost temperature and distribution in 1990. Each August since 2006, citizen scientists from around the globe (like the intrepid group pictured here) converge on this ancient landscape of stored carbon to measure permafrost thaw in an alliterative assortment of permafrost features called palsas, pingos, and peat plateaus. Supported by the global environmental charity Earthwatch International, we employ a science-education model in which we are able to record an enormous wealth of data in a short amount of time, while engaging the general public in climate and ecological research in remote landscapes rich in eco-cultural history.                                   

Funders: Earthwatch International, Aurora Research Institute


 Taking a break

Taking a Break, Community and Impact, runner up   

James Waldram, professor in archaeology and anthropology    

A mother and two of her daughters rest in a hammock during an otherwise typically busy day in southern Belize.  Anthropological research with Q'eqchi' Maya has demonstrated that women's roles have changed little over the past several generations. While the boys are off at school, and the men are in the fields, the girls remain at home learning the hard lessons of laborious domestic life in remote villages, where running water and electricity remain rare. Our research continues to document many health issues related to women's hard labour and provide insights to the traditional and biomedical systems. Posing for this photograph was a momentary and welcome respite.  There is corn to pound and water to haul!           

Funder: SSHRC


The Great Thaw

The Great Thaw, From the field, first place; Best Description, runner up   

Mark Ferguson, communications specialist for the Global Institute for Water Security   

The Athabasca Glacier is melting at more than five metres per year. As the headwaters for the Saskatchewan and Mackenzie River Basins, as well as the Columbia River System to the west, this glacier will likely cease to exist by the end of the century based on current estimates. University of Saskatchewan Climate Scientists like (l-r) Phani Adapa, Joe Shea and John Pomeroy are keeping a close eye on this precarious ice field to help communities better prepare for the uncertain future that will certainly include more floods, droughts, wildfires, and extreme weather events. Sometimes it is hard to picture what climate warming is doing to Western Canada, but when you picture a glacier without ice, it becomes more evident. 

Funder: Canada First Research Excellence Fund


African Anthropocene

African Anthropocene, From the field, runner up

Emiliana De Omena Bomfim, doctoral student in medicine

I had the incredible opportunity to go to Mozambique, Africa through the College of Medicine -Division of Social Accountability to work in a project that aims to find ways to decrease maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. While taking a break from our research, this Anthropocene portrait came across us. It acutely represents the plight of many families, young mothers and children as a reflex of a deep hiatus and inequity of the human condition in our planet. People are ostracized, caged by colonization, living on a silent slavery basis, facing a latent exploitation. But how does such oppression thrive, let alone exist in the 21st century? Yes, there is a lot to atone for. As a researcher, I hope that the work I started there, will one day provide health, space, voice and other services to assist communities and leaderships in getting where they want to go and how they want to go.

Gender Equity

Gender Equity in Basic Education: A reality or an illusion, Best Description, first place

Zita A. Seshie, PhD candidate in sociology

My mother could not complete her basic education in the 1960s in Ghana due to scarce family resources and the cultural expectation that a woman's contribution is in the domestic sphere. As the highly educated daughter of an African woman that could not complete the grade 6 level, I was inspired to focus my doctoral research on Gender Equity and Education Policy in Ghana. In spite of Ghana's Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education policy, girls continue to have lower completion rates compared to boys. I took this picture during my fieldwork because it is a reminder that we must continue to explore why girls have lower educational attainment globally.

Funder: International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada


The Stones

The Stones, More than meets the eye, first place

Lindsay Aspen, dentistry student

Is it a unique deep sea creature? A pathogenic microbe? Some new chemical compound? Nope... much more simple than that! It's almost unrecognizable in this image, but you are looking at a human tooth. An upper molar, to be specific, with a density filter to show the inner structures in greater detail. You are also looking at a potential marker to predict future heart disease in individuals -- the blue blobs in the center are called pulp stones. They form within the tooth over time, but not a lot is known about how or why they develop. Our study is one of many with the goal of finding a link between the development of these stones in the dental pulp with development of calcifications and plaques in larger arteries. When we see pulp stones in routine dental X-rays we may one day be able to inform our patients to follow up with their family physicians and nip heart disease in the bud.         

Funder: University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry

Diatom another day

Diatom another day, More than meets the eye, runner up

Lorne Doig, research scientist at the Toxicology Centre

A myriad of diatom species live in Canadian freshwaters. After dying, their remains are often preserved for millennia in the bottom sediment of lakes and ponds. Pictured (false-colour) are diatom remains isolated from sediment deposited 7,300 years ago in a small boreal lake in northern Saskatchewan. Because each species has its own unique environmental preferences, diatom communities will change quickly in response to changes in their environment. Alterations to a diatom community can therefore be used to infer environmental events or long-term trends. I use these organisms in my research to assess both recent and historical changes, natural or otherwise, to freshwater ecosystems. Of recent interest is how boreal lakes responded to climate change during the mid to late Holocene, and how this might shed light on future biological reorganization linked to our current changing climate.

Funder: Global Institute for Water Security


Let's Create an Artificial Organ

Let's Create an Artificial Organ with Cells! Research in action, runner up

Saman Naghieh, doctoral student in biomedical engineering

You have probably heard about the global organ shortage due to limited donors. Creating organs artificially through 3D bioprinting is a promising way to help people who are waiting for life-saving surgeries. The picture is showing the three-dimensional (3D) ear fabricated using a 3D bioprinter. The inset images show the patient's medical imaging data, creating the model of the ear from patient's imaging data, designing the porous ear, and the microscopic image of the incorporated cells inside the ear. The idea behind 3D printing is like a normal inkjet printer. My research focuses on the development of customized scaffolds like the ear in this picture, as a temporary construct including a mixture of patient's cells and biomaterials. Hopefully, this magic technique will help millions of people around the world waiting for tissues and organs. (With help from Adam McInnes)

Little Bird in a Big World

Little Bird in a Big World, Research in action, first place    

Katelyn Luff, master’s student in biology

A recently hatched Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) chick is banded and measured at the Karrak Lake Research Station in central Nunavut. The effects of environmental contaminants like mercury on local biota - including these sandpipers - are unclear. These birds are part of an ongoing study in the central Canadian Arctic which aims to investigate the levels of contaminants on breeding shorebird species. Data collection will provide insight to contaminants present in the local system, whether these levels change over the breeding season, and whether chick fitness is influenced by contaminant loads.

Funders: Northern Scientific Training Program, Government of Canada Research Affiliate Program