Two exceptional research images, taken at Indiana University’s Light Microscopy Imaging Center, are finalists in the International GE Cell Imaging Competition. Last year the center won the contest with an image of a dividing cell.
Imaging Center manager and research scientist Jim Powers gives background on the competition, and explains why IU has a good chance to take home the prize again.
“Every year GE runs a world-wide contest on their microscopes, which we have,” Powers says, “There aren’t too many in the world and every year people submit their images. Last year one of our images one and two got accepted this year.”
The IU Imaging Center captures their microscopic subjects with a $1.2 million super-resolution microscope. The microscope, in use since 2009, was funded entirely by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Scientists everywhere can use this tool to look at things impossible to see with a regular microscope, and Powers says that can be significant help to biologists.
“This imaging center is for all of IU and beyond,” Powers says, “A lot of us are very visual and to be able to see something otherwise impossible to see is really huge for biologists and
The microscope itself is understandably complicated. A computer takes thousands of pictures a minute from the microscope, and then math algorithms patch them together to create a single picture.
One image submitted this year is of newt chromosomes making RNA from D-N-A. These are the building blocks of an organism, and those in the image were stained red and, coincidentally, heart-shaped. Powers says this image is especially incredible.
“We hear about all these genes and what they do for us,” Powers says, “To be able to actually see this happen is so cool and something we haven’t been able to do very well with other microscopes.”
More than 15,000 votes were cast last year. To vote for the pictures and to see the other submissions this year, you can go to GE’s website.
The winner of the contest gets a free trip to New York City to see their image on a screen in Times Square.