Scientific Images Contest

The same scientific research that generates new understanding and innovation also brings unexpected and often breathtaking beauty. Northwestern University's annual scientific images contest, "Capturing the Beauty of Science," celebrates and showcases the aesthetic side of research.  Images are submitted by Northwestern researchers, and judge by an interdisciplinary panel of local artists, scientists, and community leaders. 
This contest includes:
  • Public engagement: Winning images tour galleries, museums, and libraries across Chicago and Evanston, and represent scientific advances across a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, genetics, chemistry, engineering, and nanotechnology.
  • Training for scientists: Winning researchers receive public communications training from Science in Society staff, and have opportunities to talk about their work at venues across Chicagoland.
This contest is open to all Northwestern University researchers. The winning images have been displayed throughout the Chicagoland area, including WBEZ's studio on Navy Pier, Harold Washington Library, Evanston Public Library, the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, WBEZ's North Side Community Bureau, and the Evanston Arts Center.

"This program is especially important for children, who may not ever have envisioned themselves as future scientists. Meeting a scientist who is down to earth and shares their background in some way can make a big difference in what they see as possible for themselves.” – Karna Gowda, Applied Mathematician and 2016 Contest Winner

The Scientific Images Contest's first call for images was in 2010. Since then, the contest has evolved to display images at many new venues – including a week-long gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry – and communications training for winning researchers. 

“Guests, staff, and volunteers were thrilled to view the scientific images and engage with the researchers. The scientists were welcoming and engaging, which can help break down barriers and make science accessible to museum guests.” – Mandy Bobrow, Special Programs Coordinator, Museum of Science and Industry

Visit HELIX magazine to view winning images, or click on the gallery links below:

2016 Winners Gallery and 2016 student art pieces (Find out more about this collaborative art project here.)

2015 Winners Gallery

2014 Winners Gallery

2013 Winners Gallery

2012 Winners Gallery

2011 Winners Gallery

2010 Winners Gallery


• In 2016, the contest was featured on Chicago Tonight. Watch the WTTW interview (skip to 36:20). 


Scientific Images Contest
Chambers Hall, 600 Foster St
Evanston, IL 60208
Phone: 847-467-3297

Get Involved!

Submissions open each spring. Exhibitions roll out the following academic year.

The next Scientific Images Contest will open for submissions in Spring 2018. The 2017 contest winners will be announced later this year.

To purchase fine art and canvas prints of your favorite images, visit our online store on Imagekind:

Download the "Beauty of Science" app from the iTunes Store. Click here for the app support page.

A digital science magazine published by Science in Society and written by Northwestern faculty, students and staff.

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