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CBE Research Images as Art!

If you visited Engineering Building I, our department’s home, in the past, you might have seen old bulletin boards with outdated homework solutions posted, old research presentation posters and other unattractive clutter on the walls!  To update the space, department head Sindee Simon established a departmental Art Comittee and instituted the first annual CBE Research Image Contest in spring of 2022.

The main motivation was to beautify the department’s spaces by displaying artistic research images from work by our undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers.  The displays include information about the images, as well as the goals of the associated research. These help us inform the university community and visitors about the impactful work that is going on in the department.

In addition, the contest prepares our students to participate in the university-wide NC State Research Image Contest–last year, we had four winners in that competition. Finally, it’s another way to recognize the creativity of our students!

Three research images were selected as winners of the 2023 CBE Research Image Contest, all made by CBE PhD students.  First place went to two images in a tie: awards went to “The Inner Cosmos” by Gautami Kelkar from the Keung laboratory and to “The Particle as Flower” by Prottasha Sarkar from the Khan laboratory.  Third place went to “Shiny Strawberries” by Mariam Sohail, also from the Khan laboratory.

The Inner Cosmos by The Inner Cosmos by Gautami Kelkar
The Inner Cosmos

“The Inner Cosmos” is a confocal microscope image showing a human cortical organoid slice with neural rosettes in red.  These brain structures are important because they mimic developmental signatures of the embryonic cortex, the center for cognitive function.  The image was made by Gautami Kelkar, who is from Mumbai, India.  Gautami joined the CBE program in Fall 2020, and his dissertation research, supervised by Prof. Albert Keung, is aimed at studying the role of metabolism in cell fate during neurodevelopment using stem cell-derived brain organoids.

The Particle as Flower by Prottasha Sarker
The Particle as Flower

“The Particle as Flower” is a scanning electron microscope (SEM) image showing an agglomeration of needle-shaped tannic acid particles, which were synthesized under basic conditions resulting in 7 micron diameter spherical agglomerates.  The image was taken by Prottasha Sarker, with help from postdoctoral researcher Tahira Prizada, in the Khan laboratory.  Prottasha joined NC State in 2019, after completing her undergraduate degree from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Her dissertation concerns the rheological behavior of bio-based materials. For example, she is using unaggregated tannic acid particles to tailor and improve the rheological properties of naturally derived collagen.   She expects to graduate next year and hopes to work in industry.

Shiny Strawberries by Mariam Sohail
Shiny Strawberries

“Shiny Strawberries” is a confocal laser scanning microscope image of a Pickering emulsion of oil droplets dispersed in water with a water-soluble fluorescent dye.  Of importance here is that the emulsion is stabilized through the use of environmentally benign cellulose-derived nanoparticles rather than using surfactant molecules, which is the typical case.  The image was made by Mariam Sohail, who is from Pakistan.  She joined NC State in 2019 as the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship.  Her dissertation research, supervised by Prof. Khan, has included investigation of controlled release matrixes for agriculture applications, including Pickering emulsions.  She hopes to graduate next year and is interested in both industrial and academic opportunities.

Nearly thirty images were submitted this year from multiple CBE laboratories and nineteen of those will be printed and displayed in EB1. During our first year of the competition, we printed nearly forty images, because in addition to the competition, we also printed images for most of the research groups in the department.

Finally, a special thanks to the Art Committee, chaired by Prof. Stefano Menegatti, committee members Profs. Nathan Crook and Sindee Simon, and external judges Patsy Hopfenberg and Melissa Peden.