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Eye on Research

The University of Michigan Office of Research partners with Rackham Graduate School to sponsor Eye on Research, a graduate student photo contest aimed at capturing the excitement, range, color and creativity of research.

The photo contest, which runs from October through February, is open to all U-M graduate students enrolled in Rackham degree programs. Information about the next photo contest will be available in August 2018.

See below for more information on the 2017-18 contest winners:


Student Photographer: Tal Nagourney

Degree in Progress: Doctorate in Electrical Engineering

Photo Description: This fused silica microshell is known as a birdbath resonator. It was formed in just a few seconds with a novel blowtorch molding system developed by Professor Khalil Najafi's research group at U-M. This resonator, which is a mere 5 mm in diameter and 50 microns thick, is the core of a high-precision gyroscope used for inertial navigation when GPS is unavailable. To increase measurement accuracy, the birdbath resonator is designed to have extremely low energy dissipation. Once it begins to vibrate it will continue to ring for hundreds of seconds, losing less than two ten-millionths of its stored energy during each resonant period. This performance is unprecedented for a resonator on this scale.

Biomedical and Health Sciences

Student Photographer: Diogo Guerreiro

Degree in Progress: Master's in Endodontics

Photo Description: This is a picture of a upper molar tooth subjected to a diaphonization process also known as "clearing and staining." Despite its early merits in showing the internal anatomy of human teeth, diaphonization is not widely used nowadays in the dental field due to its meticulous and time-consuming nature. Advancements in imaging technology have also rendered the practice uncommon turning it more into an art form. This picture was taken under microscopy with the specimen submerged in methyl salicylate.


Student Photographer: Yao E. Kovach

Degree in Progress: Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences

Photo Description: As can be seen in this picture, the self-organization pattern shows a perfectly symmetrical spoke structure with center convergence on the anode surface of sodium chloride solution at 80mA. Above the plasma spokes, a golden yellow colored prominent halo that surrounds the white colored main plasma column along with 8 millimeter gap in the air. Below the plasma spokes, the image shows a salt water reflection of the halo with helium plasma emitted from the 500 micrometer center of a hollow shaped cathode. From the spectroscopic analysis, we determined the golden yellow colored of the halo is due to the sodium glow from the vapor of the liquid. These blue colored plasma spokes have a size of around 25 micrometer and 85 micrometer in width and length respectively. 

Humanities and the Arts

Student Photographer: Rheagan Eric Martin

Degree in Progress: Doctorate in the History of Art

Photo Description: I reached the ruins of Lanercost Priory in Cumbria, England, after hiking 35 miles along Hadrian's Wall—a fortified wall which marked the northern border of ancient Rome circa 122 A.D. The priory has a long history, dating to circa 1169 and incorporating pieces of Hadrian's Wall into its architectural fabric. The priory was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538 and passed into private hands until the twentieth century.

Natural Sciences

Student Photographer: Christina Vallianatos

Degree in Progress: Doctorate in Human Genetics

Photo Description: This image shows embryonic mouse brains at the microscope. We can isolate specific brain regions and grow those neurons onto cell culture dishes for genetic and pharmacologic manipulations. Each brain is so small, it's easy to forget the billions of cells working to make this complex organ function.

Social Sciences

Student Photographer: Anna S. Antoniou

Degree in Progress: Doctorate in Anthropological Archaeology

Photo Description: Anna Antoniou uncovered this shrew skull during archaeological excavations of the Nukaunanlth village site in southwestern Washington state. As part of her dissertation, Anna is collaborating with the Shoalwater Bay Tribe to uncover ancient foodways and shellfish harvesting practices. Although this specimen was found among the archaeological remains of cooking trash, it's unlikely that the people living in this village prehistorically consumed this animal. More likely, this little critter made its home in the trash heap, foraging for seeds, insects, worms and a variety of other foods that would have been abundant there. It is a reminder that archaeological sites are rarely snapshots of history preserved perfectly in time, but rather landscapes that are constantly being transformed by humans, animals and nature alike.

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