2017 Images of Research Finalists

The Second Annual Images of Research competition is a unique opportunity for Graduate Students at the University of Lethbridge to display their research, scholarly and artistic work. The aim of the competition is to provide graduate students with an artistic alternative to highlight their work, as a way to celebrate the diverse research occuring at uLethbridge. Students were asked to submit an image, along with an explanatory abstract that would inform the community about their research and why it matters. 

Anonymyized submissions were assessed by a multidisciplinary panel of judges utilizing the following criteria in order to select our first, second, and third place finishers:

1) Aesthetic appeal and creativity of image;

2) Research connection; and 

3) Clarity of the abstract

The people's choice winner was selected by viewers of the 2017 online gallery.

The School of Graduate Studies and Graduate Students' Association would like to thank all of the expert judges and everyone who submitted their work to the inaugural competition. Following deliberation by our panel, the following submissions were selected as the 2017 Images of Research winners. 

First Place

Zombie Brain, by Sarah Unrau (MSc, Biological Sciences)

Mind-control, the stuff of Sci-fi films and novels, is an idea that seems too much like fiction to exist in the everyday-world. However, in the world of parasites, it is an all too real phenomenon. Many parasites are able to utilize the hosts they infect to further their ability to get into the next host. They change their host’s behaviour through methods that are unknown, causing them to act differently than the norm. I study the parasite Dicrocoelium dendriticum, known to cause ants to exhibit a “zombie-like” behaviour. This parasite resides in the ant’s brain and through imaging I hope to better understand how this worm is able to alter the behaviour of these infected ants. This picture is of a cross-sectioned ant head, imaged using confocal microscopy, where a small parasite resides in the middle of its brain and is able to change the life of this ant completely.

Second Place

Stopping Cancer Cells with Canadian Prairie Plants, by Layla Molina (MSc, Biological Sciences)

In our research, we are investigating how chemicals from prairie plants can be used as future anti-cancer medicines. To obtain this image, we treated human cancer cells with a plant extract and submitted them to a special technique. We added a type of molecule, with a fluorescent dye attached to it, that binds to a desired target inside the cells and allows their visualization with a microscope. Here, the green color shows microtubules that form the cytoskeleton and the mitotic spindle, apparatus that separates chromosomes during cell division. The blue color shows the genetic material, and the red shows a protein that is only active during mitosis. We can therefore distinguish the cells that are undergoing cell division (red) from non-dividing cells (the rest) and observe the different stages of mitosis. We are looking for changes among the microtubules in the red cells, can you find them on this photo?

Third Place

Forest of '85, by Laurens Philipsen (MSc, Biological Sciences)

In the semi-arid plains of western North America, floodplain ecosystems along rivers provide a haven for a diversity of animal and plant life not found elsewhere in the prairie landscape. Unfortunately, these ecosystems are under threat from streamflow management, primarily river damming and diversion. This image depicts an aerial photograph of the Red Deer River, Alberta through Dinosaur Provincial Park captured June 1985, following construction of the Dickson Dam within the rivers’ headwaters in 1983. Overlaid on the photograph is the digitized active channel (blue) and the woodland extent (green). The active channel and forest extent was digitized for 28 aerial photographs stretching from 1950 to 2012 with the intent of assessing changes in floodplain forests along the lower Red Deer River, particularly following the construction of the Dickson Dam. Note the stark contrast between the prairie in the top of the photo and the river valley below.

People's Choice

Apertures to Plant Productivity, by Saabi Dhakal (MSc, Biological Sciences)

Stomata are tiny openings on plant surface that allow exchange of gases, including water vapor and intake of CO2 for photosynthesis. Transpirational pull through the stomata allows water to be taken from soil. The veins in the plant are like straws that draw water from the soil and transport it all over the plant and eventually reaching the stomata. When plants are exposed to stresses such as heat or drought, changes in vein density and stomatal density occur, which are believed to affect the overall productivity of the plants. My research assesses how different heat and drought treatments modify vein and stomatal density in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. In the long run we will be able to find the genes responsible for these modifications. Thus, plants can be engineered to produce desired number of stomata or veins. This will contribute to stress tolerance in plants.