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The 2019 Science & Engineering as Art Competition

By Lindsey Doermann
May 9, 2019

In what’s now become a beloved ChemE tradition, the department held its Science & Engineering as Art competition again this spring. The contest challenges students and postdocs conducting research in a core ChemE faculty’s lab to look at their research differently. This year’s entrants found beauty in the phenomena they study, made data visually stunning, found artistry in experimentation, and even looked at their instruments in a new way.

A panel of faculty and staff served as judges, and the winning art was revealed at ChemE Awards Day on May 3, 2019. Thanks to generous support from ChemE graduate and Moulton Distinguished Alumna Dorothy Bowers, the top three images will be framed and displayed in Benson Hall.


First Prize

A [Bi]t of Light

By Elena Pandres

A thermal image time series in which a custom-built, optically-accessible, continuous-flow reactor containing bismuth (Bi) nanoparticles is irradiated with a laser. When irradiated, the Bi nanoparticles generate heat and can be used to drive local chemical reactions in solution.

Elena is a graduate student in Vince Holmberg’s lab


Second Prize

Euclidean Brainstorm

By Chad Curtis

A Euclidean distance transform of a confocal microscopy image of microglia cells taken in a rat organotypic brain slice model. The colors are scaled to represent the distance away from a cell surface.

Chad was a graduate student in Elizabeth Nance’s lab and is now a lecturer in ChemE


Third Prize

Diamonds in the Rough

By Julia Boese and Yundi Zhao

A low-magnification and colorized SEM image of silica nanoparticles with salt crystals and possible capillary-action-caused patterning.

Julia and Yundi are graduate students in François Baneyx’s lab


Other entrants:


By Janani Sampath

Helical peptide LK(alpha)14 adsorbed on the surface of quartz through lysine interactions

Janani is a postdoc in Jim Pfaendtner’s lab


Nano Ball Pit

By Monica Esopi

A colorized SEM image of polystyrene nanospheres, which are used for nanosphere lithography. The first step in this fabrication process is depositing a monolayer of nanospheres onto a substrate. But in the case pictured, the spheres had other plans and arranged into a multilayer mass that was not useful to the fabrication but resembled a ball pit.

Monica is a graduate student in Qiuming Yu’s lab


Strength in Numbers

By Mike McKenna

The blood-brain-barrier prevents the invasion of foreign toxins circulating in the bloodstream and relies upon the precise interplay between thousands of individual cells. Astrocytes, stained in green, will wrap their processes around blood vessels, stained in red, to monitor, communicate with, and support one of the most formidable barriers in all of biology.

Mike is a graduate student in Elizabeth Nance’s lab


USS Benson

By Jon Witt

A CAD drawing of the USS Benson propelling through space. This one-of-a-kind ship, with only 50 mL of internal volume, now rests where it was assembled within Benson B05 in order to study electrocatalysts at high temperatures of 500 – 900°C. Like space, the inside of this ship is kept at vacuum, allowing the pilot to capture simultaneously electrochemical and gas phase rate production data on the same time scales.

Jon is a graduate student in Eric Stuve’s and Stu Adler’s labs