Since 2010, the Scientific Images Contest has provided a vibrant, engaging way for Northwestern researchers — including students, faculty, and staff — across a range of disciplines to share their work visually with members of the University community and the public. 

Submitted images represent advances across many areas of study, including medicine, genetics, chemistry, engineering, and nanotechnology. Judged by an interdisciplinary panel of local artists, scientists, and community leaders, each image comes from a Northwestern research project and cannot be fundamentally altered from its original form. In essence, the images represent both scientific data and arresting visual media. 


This contest and its subsequent exhibitions connect the public with real, contemporary research through high-quality visuals sponsored by Northwestern Research.

Winning images will be professionally printed and previous exhibition sites have included the Museum of Science and Industry, Evanston Public Library, the Chicago Arts District, and Navy Pier.

The top five images will also be awarded cash prizes. Check out galleries of the previous winners!


To be considered, all images for the contest must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, September 8, 2019.


1. One entry per person. The contest is open to all Northwestern faculty, staff, postdocs, and students (graduate and undergraduate).

2. All images must originate from a Northwestern research project. A research-based image from any scientific, medical, or engineering discipline is welcome. Images may be taken using traditional photography or an image acquisition system. Computer-generated images are allowed, provided they are part of a research project (i.e. protein crystal structure or 3D reconstruction from confocal microscope images). 

3. Images must not have been fundamentally altered from their original form or combined with other images for artistic effect. The image should also have all graphical elements and scale bars removed. For example, the image pictured below on the left, though colorized, is acceptable. The image in the middle is fine but still shows scale data. The image on the right, however, representing many copied versions of the image on the left in a manner designed to simulate snowfall, is not acceptable.

form submission style for image

Colorization should be limited to traditional techniques used to better display data. Colorization should not alter the image to present components that were absent from the original image. Videos, animations, or other schematic/artistic illustrations are not being considered for the contest at this time.


4. The submitter must have been involved in the image generation and must obtain permission for its use in this contest from any colleagues who participated in its generation.

5. Fill in all the form fields. All submissions are required to have a title, description (150-word limit with content oriented to an audience at a 7th-grade reading level), and image. 

6. Submit electronically in the correct format via the upload widget on the webform confirmation page, according to the image formatting and entry instructions. Images must be submitted in JPEG or PNG formats only, and should be high-resolution (300 dpi or higher is best), and should be scaled at 24” on the shortest side to keep all submissions approximately the same size.

Don’t know much about image sizing and resolution, or how to resize images? You may find these brief guides helpful: 

YouTube video How to Resize an Image – Video Guide video on How to Resize an Image – Video Guide

Don’t know what DPI or PPI means? How to Resize an Image – Instructional Guide

If you don’t have image editing software, such as Photoshop, you can download it for free on University machines here. You also have the option to have the Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Photoshop, on your personal computer for one year for $9.75 when you download it here.

7. The DEADLINE for entries is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2019 at MIDNIGHT.  No late entries will be accepted.


Images will be judged on aesthetics, originality, and composition. Judging will take place in August and results will be announced in fall 2018.  Judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence on this point will be entered into.

Northwestern University reserves the right to use any submitted image for educational and promotional purposes (with credit to the author).

Winners will work with Northwestern Research to develop captions.

Cash prizes will be awarded to submitters of the top five images and a total of 12 images will receive honorable mention and a certificate.

A Note on Taxes:

Prizes and awards are not gifts, honorariums, payments for services, or student financial aid.  Prize and award payments are taxable income to United States residents. These prizes do not meet the $600 minimum to trigger an IRS 1099-MISC from Northwestern, but you are liable for reporting additional earnings and prizes in your own tax filing. (The taxability of prize and awards payments to non-residents is subject to treaty regulations and dependent on country of tax residency.)


Contest entry involves TWO steps.

STEP 1: Complete the form below: both title and description are required fields.

TITLE: This can be creative or more literal. Examples: “Meltdown,” “Porous Crystals Powering Our Future,” and “Silicon Peaks” (5-word limit).

SHORT DESCRIPTION: This should describe the image to a non-scientific 7th-grade-reading level audience. For example, discuss how the image was generated and explain its significance or the impact of this research. (150-word limit). 

STEP 2: Hit Submit and you will be directed to an upload screen. Upload a high-resolution version of your image (300 dpi or higher). Put your FULL NAME and netID in the description box. Without it, we cannot match the image to your entry form.

That’s it! You should receive a confirmation email within 48 hours of submission. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact Roger Anderson if you have any issues with your submission, try clearing your cache in the web brower history; try using a different web browser (Chrome, FireFox, etc.); or try using a different computer.

Scientific Images Content 2019 Submission Form
Drop a file here or click to upload Choose File
Maximum upload size: 52.22MB