See the Incredible Winners of this Year's Photomicrography Awards

The competition awards the year's best images taken using microscopes.

Ever since Dutch cloth merchant Antoni van Leeuwenhoek used a homemade microscope in the 1600s to peer upon the wonders of the microscopic world, people have been fascinated by the multitude of scientific discoveries hiding in plain sight.

In order to celebrate the accomplishments of scientists who gaze into that world in the name of science, Nikon has held a yearly photomicrography competition of the best microscope images.

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Celebrating the microscopic world

Nikon Instruments Inc. announced the winners of the 45th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition this week. 

“The Nikon Small World competition has been bringing stunning scientific images to the public for 45 years now,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager, Nikon Instruments, in a statement.

“Our goal has always been to show the world how art and science intersect. As new imaging and microscopy techniques develop over the years, our winners showcase these technology advances more and more creatively. First place this year is no exception.”

First place

The winning award this year went to microscopy technician Teresa Zgoda and recent university graduate Teresa Kugler for an incredible photo of a turtle embryo.

See the Incredible Winners of this Year's Photomicrography Awards
Fluorescent turtle embryo. Source: Teresa Zgoda, Teresa Kugler

The photo was captured using fluorescence and stereo microscopy. The final image is a stunning example of image-stitching.

“Microscopy lets us zoom in on the smallest organisms and building blocks that comprise our world – giving us a profound appreciation for the small things in life that far too often go unnoticed,” said Kugler. “It allows me to do science with a purpose.”

Second place

Second place went to Dr. Igor Siwanowicz for a composite image of three single-cell freshwater protozoans, also known as "trumpet animalcules.”

Siwanowicz used confocal microscopy to capture the image. The strands shown in the picture are the cilia — tiny hairs that the animals utilize for feeding as well as movement.

See the Incredible Winners of this Year's Photomicrography Awards
Depth-color coded projections of three stentors. Source: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Third place

The third spot went to Mr. Daniel Smith Paredes. Paredes captured a developing American alligator embryo. The photo was taken around 20 days into the development of the embryo. It was captured using immunofluorescence. 

See the Incredible Winners of this Year's Photomicrography Awards
Alligator embryo developing nerves and skeleton. Source: Daniel Smith Paredes

Paredes' image was captured as part of his studies into the evolution of vertebrate anatomy.

The top 20 finalists of Nikon's Photomicrography Competition can be viewed on their website.

All photos courtesy of Nikon Small World.

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