Images of Research Competition

2014 COP Image Competition

Competition Rules

The Office of the Dean is pleased to announce 4th COP’s “Images of Research” competition. The purpose of the competition is to assemble a portfolio of the most innovative and creative images to convey the range of research taking place in COP.  These images will be used to promote, advance and represent our College both in printed and digital media.

This competition offers COP trainees the opportunity to submit compelling digital images created in the course of their research and is open to any student enrolled in one of the COP programs or postdoc currently working in the College. Between August 25 and September 22, 2014, students and postdocs are invited to submit one image in each of the 2 categories:

  • Images of Research.  Technical images generated in the course of the research or to illustrate a research topic.
  • Images of Scientists at Work.  Creative images demonstrating how the research is done.

After the submission period ends, everyone in the College will be able to review the submissions and vote for the best image.  Prizes will be awarded to the top two entries, regardless of a category.

  • 1st Prize:  $350
  • 2nd Prize: $250

An exhibit of the winning images will be on display on the COP web site. All entries will become property of the College and remain in a College of Pharmacy database. They will be used to promote the College and research going on in the College in both printed and digital media.

Competition Guidelines:

  • Only one entry per person in each of the two categories. To be entered into competition, you do not need to submit 2 images; one is sufficient.
  • Submission must be an image that was generated as part of the trainee’s research in COP.
  • Entrant(s) must be principal creator(s) of image. Collaborative submissions are allowed.
  • Upload your image in either of the following formats: .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png. Maximum size is 1 MB. 
  • For technical assistance with the image submission, please contact For any other non-technical questions about the competition, or if you do not receive e-mail confirmation within 3 days of your submission, please contact
  • Entrants are responsible for ensuring that any relevant permissions have been sought, that no copyright has been infringed, and that any necessary release forms have been signed.

SUBMIT YOUR IMAGE here by 9/22/14.

2013 COP Image Competition Winners

184 people voted for the best image in our COP Image Competition. The winners are shown below, with number of votes received in parenthesis. Right click on the image to see the full version.

First Place ($300)
Tuyen Nguyen and Mary Tang, Biopharmaceutical Sciences (82 votes)
Title: Raising or “Racing” Glioblastoma Cells

Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common and aggressive form of primary brain tumor in human and accounts for approximately 60% of all diagnosed brain tumors in the United States each year. In our lab, we work with glioblastoma and use hydrogels made up of a variety of polymers as drug delivery vehicles in order to treat this disease. Pictured here are confluent glioblastoma U87-MG cells grown on tissue culture plastic. Can you spot the racing horse outlined by the cells?

Second Place ($200)
Shangwen Luo, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy (22 votes)
Title: The Plate of Rainbow

plate of rainbow
Siderophores are high-affinity iron chelating natural products that are produced by microorganisms. The secretion of siderophores into extracellular environment is crucial for the growth of microorganisms in iron-limiting environments. This picture was captured during the development of a siderophore detection assay. The iron chelating agents under different concentrations rendered a plate of rainbow colors in this assay.

Third Place ($100)
Jia Xie, Biopharmaceutical Sciences (18 votes)
Title: Beauty of Crystal Violet

crystal violet
The cells stained with crystal violet are skov-3, a kind of epithelial ovarian cancer cells that derived from human ascites. Originally our aim is to compare the difference in the intensity of the purple color which indicates the growing ability of the cells under different conditions. While observing and magnifying the cells under the microscope, we found the fascinating staining results that can clearly elucidate the structure of the cells.

Honorable Mention
Shuyi Cao, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
Title: The evolution of computational drug design

drug design
Twenty years ago, we used tapes to store information and those large machines to analyze data. Now the computational drug design has marched into a new era. We have large clusters and work stations which can process data thousands of times faster than before.

Honorable Mention
Wei-Lun Chen, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
Title: Waiting

The growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-I (GH/IGF) pathway may be important in cancer development. Down regulation of the GH/IGF axis may substantially retards initiation as well as promotion/progression stages of carcinogenesis. The dwarf mouse, which lacks GH due to a missense mutation in its GH gene, is our mouse model in GH research. The image shows the dwarf mice were waiting to be weighed.

2012 Image Competition Winners

203 people voted for the best image in our COP Image Competition. The winners are shown below, with number of votes received in parenthesis.

First Place
Heesue Kim, PharmD program (33 votes)
Title: The Needle

The Needle
The image captures the process of HPLC/MS run. Pre-clinical pharmacokinetic study of newly discovered compound (to be used in anti-bioterrorism) is done by using HPLC/MS machine. Drug concentration is measured to test its microsomal stability.

Second Place
Ehsan Tavassoli, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy (31 votes)
Title: My Garden of Neurons

The use of transgenic mice and confocal microscopy methods allow for a detailed study of motor neurons (MNs) in health and disease. This image corresponds to a spinal cord section obtained from a transgenic mouse expressing yellow fluorescent protein (YFP). Stained in red by ethidium bromide, nuclei of oligodendrocytes appear as small roses dispersed amongst a garden of YFP-filled axons pseudocolored in green. At the bottom of this image, large tulip-shaped structures corresponding to cell bodies of MNs are stained orange by the combined colors of YFP and ethidum bromide. Thanks to healthy MNs we can enjoy a walk along a beautiful flower garden!

Third Place
Ja Hye Myung, Biopharmaceutical Sciences (22 votes)
Title: Bloody Heart

Bloody Heart
More than a few billion hematological cells, such as leukocytes and red blood cells coexist in one milliliter of human blood. Our objective is to capture rare human disease-related cells among one million-one billion hematological cells. While screening the results, we found a heart-shaped leukocyte aggregation next to the captured target cell (a single red cell). This promising result is not only visible to the eye, but also appeals to the heart.

Honorable Mention
Tristesse Jones, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
Title: Father of Motherwort

This image depicts the pollen grains within the anther of Leonurus cardiaca L. (Lamiaceae), Motherwort, using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). It was used to authenticate the plant species for UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research in Women’s Health. Authentication is necessary to establish whether the examined plant sample is the correct species. The pollen grains are a diagnostic characteristic of this plant. The image shows the dispersal of pollen grains from the anther for pollination of the stigma. “Father of Motherwort” demonstrates how what we see from afar is more dynamic when we examine it closely.

Honorable Mention
May Fern Toh, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
Title: Joanna's Hands

This image represents the hands behind science that convert ideas into cutting-edge discoveries. It emphasizes science as a team sport and the importance of working together effectively to form the backbone of a successful lab.

2011 Image Competition Winners

133 people voted for the best image in our inaugural COP Image Competition. The winners are shown below, with number of votes received in parenthesis. One more time, big thanks go to all our undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral trainees who participated and made this first round a success.

First Place
Dirim Arslan, Biopharmaceutical Sciences (21 votes)
Title: Infection Day

It was the day for another experiment that was planned weeks ahead which also happened to be the same day of the 2011 Chicago Blizzard. Normally a 10 minute walk to the COP took over 45 minutes under severe weather conditions. This picture was captured right before arriving at the COP behind the frozen doors of CSN Building. And the experiment; it was a success!

Second Place
My Nguyen and Misuk Bae, Biopharmaceutical Sciences (14 votes)
Title: A Crack of Dawn

The sun rising-like image on the photograph is isolated E.coli colonies grown on an agar plate after being transformed with red fluorescence protein (RFP) plasmid. The research is focused on designing hydrogel microparticles as polynucleic acid delivery system. We choose RFP plasmid as a model polynucleic acid to evaluate the transfection efficiency of hydrogel microparticles. The picture was taken under LED light bulbs in a UIC College of Pharmacy research laboratory. This creation was equally contributed by My Nguyen (undergraduate research assistant, Biology) and Misuk Bae (graduate student, Biopharmaceutical Sciences). RFP plasmid is a generous gift from Professor William Beck.

Third Place
Hiten Gutka, Pharmacognosy (Biotech) (10 votes)
Title: Crystals--unraveling the secrets of Life

The focus of my research is to study the enzymes that are important in the metabolic pathways of pathogenic bacteria. Insight into the structure and function of such important proteins forms the basis for developing new drugs. Hence the title "Crystals - unraveling the secrets of Life" was chosen. Structural characterization of proteins is performed by X-ray crystallography, wherein the most difficult step is to obtain adequate quality crystals. Crystals of a phosphatase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis are captured here. These crystals were grown following standard crystallization technique (hanging drop vapor diffusion) and images captured on a microscope.

Honorable Mentions
There were three images tied for the 4th place, each receiving 9 votes.

Ja Hye Myung
Andrew Newsome
Suzanne Quartuccio
Nano-rock hits nanowires
Natural Blue Martini