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Evident Image award celebrates microscopic photos' beauty

May 24, 2023

The photo of a spindly nervous system in a tiny juvenile sea star glows in bright yellow, blue, green, purple and pink against a black background. The image of crystal of a topical medicine for wart treatment looks like a pop-art drawing of colorful leaves. A germinating pollen grain of a morning glory, meanwhile, hovers like a spiky yellow and orange planet.

The three microscopic images are among 640 photos from 38 countries submitted to the fourth Global Image of the Year Scientific Light Microscopy Award, an annual competition run by Tokyo-based Evident, a maker of microscopes, videoscopes and other digital optical technologies used in the life sciences.

The competition “recognizes the best in scientific imaging worldwide” in hopes of “encouraging people around the world to look at scientific images in a new way, appreciate their beauty, and share images with others,” Evident officials said in a news release.

The sea star image, taken by Laurent Formery, was the global winner of the competition.

“I love microscopy and can spend a huge amount of time in front of our confocal microscope, but the very nice samples that I am lucky to work with really make the difference,” Formery, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, said in the release. “I work with marine invertebrates, in particular echinoderms (sea stars, sea urchins and their kind).

“They are beautiful animals, with a fascinating and aesthetically pleasing fivefold symmetry that is unlike anything else in the animal kingdom,” he said. “We know little about how these animals shape their fivefold body, which is the topic of my research. Echinoderms, and marine invertebrates in general, are often not well-known animals. I’m happy that taking images of them helps communicate how much beauty we have in our oceans, and why it is important to know more about them and protect them.”

The wart crystal image, by Shyam Rathod, won in the materials science category. And the spiky germinating pollen grain, captured by Igor Siwanowicz was the winning photograph in the Americas category.

To see all the images, read about the microscopic techniques used to create them and download images as digital wallpaper, go to