Research images

Research images

The art of innovation

Science is beautiful.

Every day, researchers at the Beckman Institute use its core facilities to conduct barrier-breaking research. They also generate stunning scientific images along the way. Click on each image to learn more.

Follow @beckmaninstitute on Instagram for the latest.

Beckman Institute Research Image Contest

Each spring, Beckman hosts a research image contest that encourages researchers to submit images captured while conducting research. The contest includes categories for undergraduates (pictured: Rachel Tham, 2020 winner in this category), graduates, postdoctoral or staff researchers, and faculty members.

Members of the Beckman community are invited to enter, as are those who work outside Beckman but have used the institute's core facilities, like the Biomedical Imaging Center or Imaging Technology Group, to capture images.

Leaders of those facilities, as well as the Beckman director and its new media design specialist, serve as blind judges. The selected images are framed and hung for a year in the Director's Conference Room within the Beckman administrative suite.

After that year, they're hung around the halls of the Beckman Institute.

Beckman researchers should watch their email and the Beckman Bulletin each spring for information about the contest. Questions can be directed to the Communications Office.

The stories below highlight previous winners.

All news stories

Four researchers win Beckman image contest

Research images from a recent Beckman contest are being featured in the director’s conference room. The images highlight the beauty of science and showcase the range of research conducted at the institute.
Published on July 30, 2020

Scientists at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology recently showed off their research through Beckman Research Image Contest.

This year, the contest features four winners in the following categories: undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researcher, and faculty. The four framed images are being featured in the Beckman director’s conference room. Last year’s winning images will be hung throughout the Beckman’s halls.

“Researchers at the Beckman Institute use our state-of-the-art tools to work together across disciplines and break new barriers,” said Jeff Moore, the director of the Beckman Institute and an Ikenberry Endowed Chair in the Department of Chemistry. “These images show that research is not only important, but also visually beautiful. I continue to be amazed and inspired by the entries in the Beckman Research Image Contest.”

The winners are:

Undergraduate student category

Rachel Tham, the Minjoo Larry Lee Group

tham research image-webMultijunction solar cells could significantly increase the efficiency of solar power. However, lattice mismatch between the device layers can lead to defects called threading dislocations that decrease their efficiency. Tham's research, conducted with graduate student Ryan Hool, works to better understand why and how these dislocations occur to make multijunction solar cells more efficient. This image is a Nomarski (also called differential interference contrast) image of a beryllium-doped gallium phosphide (GaP) on GaP sample, after defect selective etching, and it was imaged with the Beckman Institute's inspection microscope at 50 times magnification. DSE reveals the location of threading dislocations as etch pits in the sample, and the number of etch pits present can then be used to calculate the sample's threading dislocation density.


Graduate student category

Marley Dewey, the Harley Research Lab

dewey research image-webThis is a mineral and polymer galaxy. This specific polymer contains calcium phosphate mineral and was 3D printed in order to repair damaged bone. Dewey’s role involves taking these 3D-printed polymers and combining them with collagen-based biomaterials in order to regenerate large missing portions of bone from the skull and jaw.


Postdoctoral and staff researcher category

Mark Levenstein, the Wagoner Johnson Applied Biomaterials and Biomechanics Lab levenstein research image-web

Optical micrograph of a baby Acropora palmata coral polyp inverted and modified for enhanced contrast of the newly formed tentacles. The polyp is shown growing on a novel carbonate reef restoration substrate, which hopefully will increase the settlement and survival of juvenile corals into adulthood.


Faculty member category

Brad Sutton, Magnetic Resonance Functional Imaging Lab

sutton research image-webTwo techniques in magnetic resonance imaging enable researchers to see highly sensitive information about the structure of brain tissue: diffusion tensor imaging and magnetic resonance elastography. DTI looks at the cabling in the brain. These white matter fiber pathways transmit information from one part of the brain to another. MRE looks at the mechanical properties of the brain tissue, including stiffness. It provides information about the interconnections and complexity of cells in the brain. In order to make a clinically feasible protocol and save time, the Sutton Group and Carle Foundation Hospital-Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Aaron Anderson, in collaboration with professors Dieter Klatt and Richard Magin at the University of Illinois at Chicago, developed and implemented a DTI-MRE sequence that acquires both DTI and MRE data at the same time. This data was collected on the Biomedical Imaging Center 3 Tesla Prisma MRI system. Grant funding: NIH/NIBIB 5R21EB026238-02.

In this article

  • Brad Sutton
    Brad Sutton's directory photo.