Winners of UNE's first Student Confocal Microscope Digital Image Competition announced

Jessica Davis-Knowlton's unaltered third place image
Jessica Davis-Knowlton's unaltered third place image

July 10, 2014

Neal Mecum's unaltered first place image
Neal Mecum's unaltered first place image
Taylor Follansbee's unaltered second place image
Taylor Follansbee's unaltered second place image
Ian Imbert's unaltered third place image
Ian Imbert's unaltered third place image
Taylor Follansbee's altered first place image
Taylor Follansbee's altered first place image
Jessica Davis-Knowlton's altered second place image
Jessica Davis-Knowlton's altered second place image
Tabea Moll"s altered third place image
Tabea Moll"s altered third place image

The microscopic world can reveal a bottomless spectacle on common models of study, including fruit flies and neurons. On June 25th, the University of New England Microscope Core Facility (MCF) held the First Annual Student Confocal Microscope Digital Image Competition. The aim of the competition was to make UNE’s confocal scanning laser microscope more accessible to all students.

The competition was broken down into two categories; altered and unaltered images. Students who entered images into the unaltered category were barred from changing their images in any way after collecting the image using the Leica software. This category was aimed towards science students.

Students who submitted altered images were allowed to adjust brightness, enhance color and add personal touches to their images. Vanessa O’Donnell, coordinator of the competition, said the altered category was created to encourage students from all disciplines to participate, including art students.

The confocal uses lasers as a light source, which is scanned over a sample containing fluorescent labels. Only the "confocal" fluorescent signal collected by the microscope optics and passed through an adjustable pinhole aperture is used to create an image. Off-axis and out-of-focus signals are blocked, enabling collection of thin optical sections that can be combined to generate high-resolution 3D images.  Researchers may use multiple dyes within a sample to analyze cellular relationships.  MCF’s confocal system can scan at video rate to allow for live cell analysis. The confocal was purchased with a NSF Grant #1125672.

This year, the winners of the unaltered category included:

  • First Place: Neal Mecum,  2016 Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program, University of Maine, in Professor Ian Meng's Lab in the UNE Department of Biomedical Sciences.
  • Second Place: Taylor Follansbee '15 , MS in Biological Sciences, '13, BS in Medical Biology, in Professor Geoff Ganter's Lab in the UNE Department of Biology.
  •  Third Place (tied): Ian Imbert '15, Master of Public Health, '12, BS in Biochemistry, in Assistant Professor Tamara King's Lab in the UNE Department of Biomedical Sciences; and Jessica Davis-Knowlton '13, MS in Biological Sciences, in Geoff Ganter's Lab in the UNE Department of Biology.

The winners of the altered category included:

  • First Place: Taylor Follansbee '15, MS in Biological Sciences, '13 BS in Medical Biology, in Professor Geoff Ganter's Lab in the UNE Department of Biology.
  • Second Place: Jessica Davis-Knowlton '13, MS in Biological Sciences, in Professor Geoff Ganter's Lab in the UNE Department of Biology.
  • Third place: Tabea Moll,  visiting student from Associate Professor Kerry Tucker's lab in UNE Department of Biomedical Sciences.

The first place winner from each category will be published in Rising Tide, UNE’s research magazine and all the winners from each category (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) will be published in DUNE: DigitalUNE, UNE's online repository. 

In addition there will be available to purchase a 2014-2015 academic calendar sold in the bookstore, comprised of the confocal images from this years competition.

The 2014 judging panel consisted of: Edward Bilsky, Ph.D., (vice president for research and scholarship), James Vesenka, Ph.D., (Microscope Core Facility director), Stephen Burt (chair and associate professor of art), Anne Leslie (Rising Tide project coordinator), and Bethany Kenyon (DUNE repository administrator).

All the entries will be featured in the Campus Center on UNE’s Biddeford Campus beginning September 1st.

MCF will be seeking entries for the 2015 contest and exhibition this coming winter. During this period MCF will offer training workshops for new users. More information about the 2015 competition and workshop sign up will be available at the MCF website starting Jan 15, 2015. Students from all departments and experience levels are encouraged to participate.

For more information, contact Vanessa O’Donnell (207) 602-2854 or vmaples@une.edu.