Students and faculty at Northwestern may have heard of the Scientific Images Contest, but the program is far more than a cash-prize competition. Selected research-based images are professionally mounted for exhibitions across the Chicago area. Each exhibition is accompanied by events and activities which provide key science outreach training and opportunities for the researchers involved.
The winning images from 2015 have been touring venues across Evanston and Chicago since November. Most recently, the images were part of a pop-up gallery for Chicago Arts District’s 2nd Fridays Gallery Night. This monthly event opens galleries and artist studios in Pilsen to the public, and attracts and active and enthusiastic arts crowd.
The Art of Science exhibition was a collaboration between Science in Society and the Graduate Student Council from the University of Chicago – a key partnership showcasing the breadth of Chicago’s scientific research community. (You can read a quick overview of the event in the Chicago Maroon.) Images on display represented a range of fields including neuroscience, oncology, biochemistry and astrophysics. The pop-up gallery provided space for graduate students from both institutions to speak to and share their research with an arts-attending public.
Next stop on the tour is the Museum of Science and Industry. From May 9 -14, the exhibition will be on display in the museum’s main rotunda and open to all museum visitors. (Further details can be found on the event page.)
On school days that week, winning researchers will host Junior Science Cafes. For the past few weeks, graduate students, post docs and faculty have been working hard with the science engagement professionals at Science in Society. Together, we develop and practice hands-on workshops and activities connected to their research and their image. The Jr Science Café program runs throughout the year, providing opportunities for underserved youth to meet real scientists and explore experiential learning, and these events will be exclusively promoted to area middle schools with support for transport costs.
Later in May, the exhibition will move to the Harold Washington Library, a keystone venue of Chicago Public Libraries, where it will reside for six months, providing ample opportunity for related programming both at the Harold Washington and in other CPL branches connected to the summer reading challenge and YOUMedia’s STEM and Maker projects.
While the libraries are the last venue for the 2015 exhibition, the program doesn’t stop there. Submissions for the 2016 competition are now open. Judges will select images over the summer, and come fall quarter, we’ll welcome a new cohort of winners and begin all over again.