Bruce Museum Exhibit Spotlights Top 20 Award Winners in Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition

Starting July 29, the Bruce Museum will showcase the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition.

The traveling exhibition, on view in Greenwich through October 29, 2017, shows the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope.

The Bruce Museum will supplement the show with the display of historical 20th-century microscopes used by former Bruce Museum directors Edward Bigelow and Paul Howes.

The super close-up photographs were judged by independent experts on the basis of originality, informational content, technical proficiency and visual impact.The subject matter is unrestricted and any type of light microscopy technique is acceptable, including phase contrast, polarized light, fluorescence, interference contrast, darkfield, confocal, deconvolution, and mixed techniques.

The award for first place in the Nikon competition went to Oscar Ruiz, Ph.D. for his microscopic view of the facial development of a four-day-old zebrafish embryoo. Dr. Ruiz uses the zebrafish to study genetic

mutations that lead to facial abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate in humans in the lab of Dr. George Eisenhoffer at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Ruiz brings the world face-to-face with his research on facial development and cellular morphogenesis with his winning image.

The judges were intrigued by Ruiz’s innovative techniques to capture time-lapse images of the developing zebrafish face. Using the time-lapse as a guide, Ruiz is creating an atlas of the development of the zebrafish face.

His group is tracking physical landmarks throughout development to create a series of metrics that can be used to accurately describe the cellular movements that occur during the normal development of the face. These metrics can then be used to identify abnormalities in the development of zebrafish harboring specific genetic mutations identified in human patients. He hopes that these findings will help provide insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are altered in patients with facial deformities.

“Until now, these facial abnormalities had not been extensively studied in a live context where you can see what’s happening during development in real-time,” said Ruiz. “Using a live-imaging approach means we can better understand and pinpoint exactly how and why these developmental abnormalities occur. The first step is knowing how it happens, then we can figure out how to fix it.”

In addition to Dr. Ruiz, Nikon recognized 76 other winners of the 2016 Small World competition, which is comprised of ranked top 20 winning images, 14 Honorable Mentions and 61 Images of Distinction. Scientists, photographers and hobbyists from 70 countries submitted more than 2,000 entries. Judges selected winners that exemplified artistic quality as well as exceptional scientific technique. The Bruce Museum will feature the top 20 winners.

Veteran competitor Douglas Moore of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, received second place for his exquisite and colorful image of a polished slab of Teepee Canyon Agate. The third place image by Rebecca Nutbrown of Oxford, United Kingdom, depicts a culture of neurons derived from human skin cells.

“Whether an image provides a rare glimpse into cutting-edge medical research as we saw from our first place winner, or reveals a fun “too-close-for-comfort” look into the proboscis of a butterfly, each evoked a powerful reaction from our judges. Every year we’re looking for that image that makes people lean forward in their seats, sparks their curiosity and leads them to ask new questions,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager, Nikon Instruments. “Nearly 100 years of microscopy has paved the way for the evolving technology and innovative techniques that continue to raise the bar of this competition.”

This year’s roster of judges included a combination of distinguished names in the scientific community, science journalism, imaging and video production:

• Eric Clark: Research Coordinator and Applications Developer at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University.

• Dr. Joe Hanson: Biologist, science writer, and the creator and host of PBS Digital Studios’ science education show “It’s Okay To Be Smart.”

• Rachel Link: Producer for National Geographic curating content for the publication’s Short Film Showcase.

• Dr. Brian J. Mitchell: Associate Professor in Cell and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

• Dr. Clare Waterman: National Institute of Health (NIH) Distinguished Investigator at the Laboratory of Cell and Tissue Morphodynamics.

The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition is open to anyone with an interest in photography.

Participants may submit their images in traditional 35mm format, or upload digital images directly at