The "Mouse" Roars: Photo of Water Creature Resembling a Mouse Earns First Prize in Olympus BioScapes Imaging Competition

Nov 14, 2011, 09:20 ET from Olympus

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., Nov. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- At last, a mouse that says 'Cheese'. A photo of a curious underwater life form that bears a striking resemblance to a cartoon mouse has earned first prize in the 2011 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®, the world's foremost forum for showcasing microscope photos and movies of life science subjects. Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Wash., captured the fascinating image, which showcases the amazing movements of a rotifer, a tiny underwater creature with cilia (hair-like projections around the "ears") that sweep at lightning speed to move food into its mouth. Krebs used a special flash to freeze the cilia's rapid motion. The photo also shows the microscopic animal's self-made reddish tube-shaped home, with a building block in the process of being formed inside the rotifer's body. This stunning depiction, captured using differential interference contrast illumination, was selected from more than 2000 images and movies to earn First Prize - $5,000 worth of Olympus equipment.

Now in its eighth year, the Olympus BioScapes Competition is the world's premier platform for honoring images and movies of human, plant and animal subjects as captured through light microscopes. Any life science subject is eligible, and entries are judged based on the science they depict, their aesthetics (beauty and impact of the image), and their technical expertise. Photographers can use any brand of equipment. This year, in addition to Prizes 1-10, Honorable Mentions went to 64 images and movies, and one movie earned an award for technical merit. Altogether, 13 videos earned recognition among the winners. All the award-winning images and movies may be viewed online at  

This year's winning images and movies reflect the latest advances in neuroscience and cell biology, along with amazing glimpses of the unseen world captured by hobbyists. Four of the Top 10 prizewinners in this year's competition were videos showing the wonders of life in action on a microscopic scale. Second Prize went to an amazing time-lapse movie of a cress plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) developing new roots over a 75-hour period. The movie was captured by Daniel von Wangenheim, of Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.

Third Prize went to a four-channel video of COS-7 cells, which are used in biological research. The cells are derived from African green monkey kidney cells. The movie was captured by Liang Gao, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, Va.

One extraordinary movie that caught the eyes of the judges earned Stephen Smith of Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., the Judges' Special Award for Technical Merit. Smith's movie is a "fly-through" of the many layers of a mouse brain in 3D, acquired using microscopy and array tomography and stitched together from more than 10,000 colorful fluorescence images.  

The honored images and movies this year came from 14 states of the U.S. and 19 other nations including Australia, Canada, China, England, Greece, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan and Wales, among others. Specimens included plant, human and animal subjects. For instance, Haris Antonopoulos, Athens, Greece, earned Sixth Prize for a brilliant image of stink bug eggs; Gunnar Newquist, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno captured an extraordinary Seventh Prize photo of the ovaries of a fruit fly, which resemble strawberries hanging from a stem.

Research is not all that is reflected through the lens of BioScapes. Many of this year's winning and honorable mention images reflect photographers' fascination with life's small wonders from mold to mosquitoes, from teeth to tree stems, and from bugs to bamboo. One Honorable Mention image even depicts diatoms arranged to resemble a bicycle (captured by Stephen Lowry of County Londonderry, UK). Another is a beautiful rendition of an unbeautiful subject – a human eye suffering from conjunctivitis (image by Donald Pottle of the Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, Mass).

"BioScapes images and movies remind us that our world is endlessly beautiful and fascinating," said Hidenao Tsuchiya, Group Vice President and General Manager, Scientific Equipment Group, Olympus America Inc. "They also open a window to some of the most important and compelling research going on in laboratories around the world. The BioScapes Competition, with entries representing dozens of countries and every field of life science, allows Olympus to bring scientists' amazing images and stories to the world."

The winners were announced last night at a gala reception in Washington, D.C. A selection of the 2011 winning and Honorable Mention images, along with the 13 award-winning videos, will be displayed in a museum tour that will visit New York City, upstate New York State, Pennsylvania, suburban Washington D.C., and Chapel Hill, N.C., along with other cities. Simultaneously, other exhibits of winning BioScapes images will tour cities across the U.S., Mexico, South America, Canada and the Middle East throughout 2012. The tour of BioScapes winners is sponsored by Olympus America in cooperation with Scientific American.

Olympus selects outstanding authorities in microscope imaging as judges for each year's competition. This year's BioScapes panel of judges included the eminent Robert E. Campbell, Ph.D., University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Douglas Murphy, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Va.; Wendy Salmon, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, W.M. Keck Imaging Facility, Cambridge, Mass.; and Patricia Wadsworth, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass.

In addition to Charles Krebs (1st), Daniel von Wangenheim (2nd), Liang Gao (3rd), Haris Antonopoulos (6th) and Gunnar Newquist (7th), the other Top 10 winners include: Edwin Lee of Carrollton, Tex., for his movie of Paramecia (4th); James Nicholson of NOAA/NOS/NCCOS, Charleston, S.C., for his image of coral (5th); James LaFountain of the State University of New York, Buffalo and Rudolf Oldenbourg of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass., for their movie showing a crane fly sperm cell dividing (8th); Wolfgang Bettighofer of Kiel, Germany for his depiction of a living diatom; and Gerd Guenther of Dusseldorf, Germany, for his image of algae colonies (10th).

To view the BioScapes gallery and see the Top 10 winners, 64 Honorable Mentions and Judges' Special Award for Technical Merit, visit  For free access to the images, media members and other noncommercial users may contact

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