Call for Entries: 2017 Scientific Images Contest



Contemporary science. Captivating images.  

This contest and its subsequent exhibitions connect the public with real, contemporary research through high-quality visuals sponsored by Science in Society, a Northwestern University office for science outreach and public engagement.

Winning images will be professionally printed and displayed in museums, libraries, and galleries across Chicago and Evanston. Previous exhibition sites include the Museum of Science and Industry, Evanston Public Library, the Chicago Arts District and Navy Pier.

Winning researchers have the opportunity to participate to share their work through short talks and workshops connected to the exhibition at various venues. Science communication training and support will be provided by Science in Society, a Northwestern research center dedicated to public engagement and science education.

The top five images will also be awarded cash prizes. Check out galleries of the previous winners here!


1. One entry per person. The contest is open to all faculty, staff, postdocs, and students (graduate and undergraduate) of Northwestern University.

2. All images must originate from a Northwestern research project. A research-based image from any scientific, medical or engineering discipline is welcome. Images may be taken using traditional photography or an image acquisition system. Computer-generated images are allowed, provided they are part of a research project (i.e. protein crystal structure or 3D reconstruction from confocal microscope images). 

3. Images must not have been fundamentally altered from their original form or combined with other images for artistic effect. The image should also have all graphical elements and scale bars removed. For example, the image on the left, though colorized, is acceptable. The image in the middle is fine but still shows scale data. The image on the right, however, representing many copied versions of the image on the left in a manner designed to simulate snowfall, is not acceptable.

Colorization should be limited to traditional techniques used to better display data. Colorization should not alter the image to present components that were not in the original image. Videos, animations, or other schematic/artistic illustrations are not being considered at this time.

3. The submitter must have been involved in the generation of the image and must obtain permission for its use in this contest from any colleagues who participated in its generation.

4. Fill in all the form fields. All submissions are required to have a title, description (150-word limit at the 7th grade reading level), and image

6. Submit electronically (in the right format) via the upload widget on the webform confirmation page, according to the image formatting and entry instructions. Images must be submitted in JPEG or PNG formats only, and should be high-resolution (300 dpi or higher is best), and should be scaled at 24” on the shortest side to keep all submissions roughly the same size.

Don’t know how to resize images??? If you do not know much about image sizing and resolution or you do not have the software, below are some handy little guides.

YouTube video How to Resize an Image – Video Guide video on How to Resize an Image – Video Guide

Don’t know what DPI or PPI means? How to Resize an Image – Instructional Guide

If you don’t have editing software like Photoshop, you can download it for free on University machines here. You also have the option to have the Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Photoshop, on your personal computer for one year for $9.75 when you download it here.

7. The DEADLINE for entries is FRIDAY JULY 7th at MIDNIGHT.  No late entries will be accepted.


Images will be judged on aesthetics, originality, and composition. Judging will take place in July and August, and results will be announced in fall 2017.  Judges decisions are final and no correspondence on this point will be entered into.

Northwestern University reserves the right to use any submitted image for educational and promotional purposes (with credit to the author).

Winners will work with Science in Society to develop the gallery text for the exhibitions.

The exhibition will tour several venues over the academic year. Winners will have several opportunities to present their work and be involved in science education and outreach programs connected to the exhibition.

To support this, winners will receive science communication training sessions and support from Science in Society over the academic year. We hope all winners will capitalize on this opportunity to connect to the wider community and participate in at least two science outreach events at local schools, libraries, and other public venues.

Cash prizes will be awarded to submitters of the top 5 images with all 12 images to receive honorable mention and a certificate:

1st place - $250

2nd place - $150

3rd place - $100

4th place - $75

5th place - $50

A Note on Taxes…

Prizes and awards are not gifts, honorariums, payments for services, or student financial aid.  Prize and award payments are taxable income to United States (US) residents. These prizes do not meet the $600 minimum to trigger an IRS 1099-MISC from Northwestern, but you are liable for reporting additional earnings and prizes in your own tax filing. (The taxability of prize and awards payments to non-residents is subject to treaty regulations and dependent on country of tax residency.)


Contest entry involves TWO steps.

STEP 1: Complete the form below: both title and description are required fields.

TITLE: This can be creative or more literal, examples: "Meltdown", "Porous Crystals Powering Our Future", and "Silicon Peaks" (5-word limit).

SHORT DESCRIPTION: This should describe the image to a non-scientific 7th grade reading level audience. For example, discuss how it was generated and explain its significance or impact of this research. (150-word limit). 

STEP 2: Hit Submit and you will be routed to an upload screen. Upload a high-resolution version of your image (300 dpi or higher). Put your FULL NAME and netID in the description box. Without it, we cannot match the image to your entry form.

That's it! You should receive a confirmation email within 48 hours of submission. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact Science in Society at sis@northwestern.eduIf you have any issues with your submission, try clearing your cache in the web brower history, try using a different web browser (Chrome, FireFox, etc.), or try using a different computer.

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

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