Science: 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge Winners Announced

This year's winners in five categories created dramatic, immersive visuals to convey complex ideas and discoveries.
The winning entries from the 2013 Challenge include video, posters, photography and interactive games. | AAAS/Carla Schaffer

A dramatic video showing the effect of particles and energy from the Sun on Earth's climate and weather is among the first place winners of the 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored jointly by the journal Science and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The international competition, currently in its eleventh year, honors recipients who use visual media to convey scientific research and ideas to the general public.

"Dynamic Earth" depicts "the vast scale of the Sun's influence on the Earth, from the flowing particles of the solar wind and the fury of coronal mass ejections, to the winds and currents driven by the solar heating of the atmosphere and ocean," said Horace Mitchell from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, who designed the four-minute video segment with his collaborators. "Moving through these flows gives the viewer a sense of the grandeur in the order and chaos exhibited by these dynamic systems."

Mitchell and others from NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio created the video excerpt for a lengthier high-resolution movie, narrated by Liam Neeson. The full-length film is now playing at over 60 planetariums around the world and has an estimated viewership of 500,000.

"Invisible Coral Flows," the first-place photography entry, shows the beauty of micro-scale flows produced by reef-building corals. "Corals create these flows by waving minute hairs, or cilia, lining their surface to remove debris and enhance their exchange of nutrients and gases with the surrounding seawater," explained Vicente Fernandez from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the Information Posters & Graphics category, First-Place and People's Choice winner "Wearable Power" describes a product that has power sources built into fabric for clothing. It could be used in the medical, military and sportswear industries. "[It] demonstrates how this technology may eventually be used in everyday life," said Kristy Yost from Drexel University. "We are developing yarns that can be fully knitted and integrated into energy-storing fabrics to power future generations of electronic clothing."

To select the 2013 winners, staff committee members from NSF and Science screened the 227 entries from 12 countries. The criteria for judging included visual impact, effective communication, freshness and originality. Nearly 2000 people voted via social media for their favorites for the People' Choice awards.

"The winners made scientific data beautiful and brought their new ideas to life, while at the same time immersing the viewer in science," said Monica M. Bradford, executive editor of Science. "The award recognizes this remarkable talent for creating thought-provoking videos and visuals."

Other Highlights of the Annual Challenge:

Map the Brain: A citizen neuroscience game, called "EyeWire: A Game to Map the Brain," allows players to map the 3D structure of neurons in the brain. "Mapping an entire human connectome is one of the greatest technological challenges of all time," said Sebastian Seung, who is based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Over 100,000 people from 135 countries joined EyeWire.org in its first year," said team member Amy Robinson.

Immunology of the Gut Mucosa | Doug Huff and Elizabeth Anderson, Arkitek Studios; Zoltan Fehervari, Nature Immunology; and Simon Fenwick, Nature Reviews

Journey through the Human Gut: The 3D animation by Arkitek Studios, "Immunology of the Gut Mucosa," explores how the human body's immune system responds to bacteria in the gastrointestinal system — how it protects against food-borne pathogens and how it responds to bacterial invasion — from the macro scale down to the subcellular level and looks at how the inner workings of the body achieve its balance.

See the Beauty of Nanoparticles: The People's Choice video, "Spherical Nucleic Acids," is an animation produced by The Seagull Company and Northwestern University that gives the viewer a first-hand look at the properties that mark SNAs as a potential treatment for diseases with a genetic basis. Derived from the research conducted by Northwestern chemistry professor Chad Mirkin, the content is an overview of how the properties make the particles favorable for therapeutic treatments in the field of biomedicine.

Photography

Stellate leaf hairs on Deutzia scabra | Stephen Francis Lowry, Steve Lowry Photography

First Place

Invisible Coral Flows
Vicente I. Fernandez, Orr H. Shapiro, Melissa S. Garren, Assaf Vardi, and Roman Stocker
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Honorable Mention

Stellate Leaf Hairs on Deutzia scabra
Stephen Francis Lowry
Steve Lowry Photography

People's Choice

Polymer Micro-structure Self-assembly
Anna Pyayt and Howard Kaplan
University of South Florida

Illustration

Human Hand controlling Bacterial Biofilms | Lydia-Marie Joubert, Stanford University

First Place

Cortex in Metallic Pastels
Greg Dunn (Greg Dunn Design)

Honorable Mention

Security Blanket
Lorrie Faith Cranor
Carnegie Mellon University

People's Choice

Human Hand Controlling Bacterial Biofilms
Lydia-Marie Joubert
Stanford University

Informational Posters & Graphics

Wearable Power | Kristy Jost, Babak Anasori, Majid Beidaghi, Genevieve Dion, and Yuri Gogotsi, Drexel University

First Place and People's Choice

Wearable Power
Kristy Jost, Babak Anasori, Majid Beidaghi, Genevieve Dion, and Yuri Gogotsi
Drexel University

Honorable Mention (2-way tie)

The Life Cycle of a Bubble Cluster: Insight from Mathematics, Algorithms, and Supercomputers
Robert I. Saye and James A. Sethian
UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Effects of Cold-stunning on Sea Turtles
Katelyn McDonald and Timothy Phelps (Johns Hopkins University); and Jennifer Dittmar (The National Aquarium)

Interactive Games & Apps

First Place

EyeWire: A Game to Map the Brain
Amy Robinson, William Silversmith, Matthew Balkam, Mark Richardson, Sebastian Seung, and Jinseop Kim
EyeWire

Honorable Mentions (2-way tie)

EarthViewer
Mark Nielsen and Satoshi Amagai (Howard Hughes Medical Institute); Michael Clark (EarthBuzz Software, Ltd.); Blake Porch and Dennis Liu (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Meta!Blast: The Leaf | Eve Syrkin Wurtele, William Schneller, Paul Klippel, Greg Hanes, Andrew Navratil, and Diane Bassham, Iowa State University

Deep-sea Extreme Environment Pilot (DEEP)
Daniel Rohrlick, Eric Simms, Cheryl Peach, Debi Kilb (Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California San Diego); and Charina Cain (Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography)

People's Choice

Meta!Blast: The Leaf
Eve Syrkin Wurtele, William Schneller, Paul Klippel, Greg Hanes, Andrew Navratil, and Diane Bassham
Iowa State University

Video

Dynamic Earth visualization excerpt: Coronal Mass Ejection and Ocean/Wind Circulation | Greg Shirah, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center—SVS; Horace Mitchell, NASAGSFC—SVS; Tom Bridgman, GST—SVS

First Place

Dynamic Earth visualization excerpt: Coronal Mass Ejection and Ocean/Wind Circulation
Greg Shirah and Horace Mitchell (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center-SVS); Tom Bridgman (Global Science & Technology, Inc.)

Honorable Mentions (3-way tie)

StemCellShorts
Ben Paylor, Michael Long, Jim Till, David Murawsky, James Wallace and Lisa Willemse
Stem Cell Network

Immunology of the Gut Mucosa
Doug Huff and Elizabeth Anderson (Arkitek Studios); Zoltan Fehervari (Nature Immunology); and Simon Fenwick (Nature Reviews)

Visualizing Leaf Cells from Within
Geoffrey J. Harlow, Shou Li, Albert C. Cruz, Jisheng Chen, and Zhenbiao Yang
University of California, Riverside

People's Choice

Spherical Nucleic Acids
Quintin Anderson (The Seagull Company); Chad Mirkin and Sarah Petrosko (Northwestern University)