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BMC Research in Progress Photo Competition showcases the best of science photography

From stunning microscopy, to researchers at work, and the various forms of life they investigate, the first BMC Research in Progress Photo Competition has received submissions which reflect the innovative spirit, curiosity and integrity of research in progress around the world. All images are open access and available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. 

The overall winning image, titled “I Heart Research,” by Sarah Boyle from the Centre for Cancer Biology, Adelaide, South Australia is a photo of a fluorescently labeled mouse mammary tumor produced by scientists studying the progression of breast cancer. 

Sarah Boyle said: “I’m delighted that the image I submitted has been selected as the winner. I took it as part of my research into breast cancer and for me it really shows how processes that we researchers use almost on a daily basis – such as fluorescent labeling and microscopy – can reveal stunning shapes and colors in things like human cells. As part of our research into breast cancer, we are able to use specialist microscopes and imaging equipment to make visible different proteins. The tumor we see in this image is fluorescently labeled red for the active form of a protein whose levels may increase as cancer develops.”

Rachel Burley, Publishing Director, BMC and SpringerOpen said: “This image demonstrates the ability of science and research to discover surprises even in the most unlikely of places, as well as the enthusiasm researchers have for their work. It is visually stunning and its bold colors and jewel-like shape really made it stand out to our judges. Importantly, it is also an example of how vital it is for research to keep progressing and for researchers to have access to the latest results, so that they can build on existing findings, advancing discovery in fields like cancer research.”

The runner up by Yuan Xiao Wei, post-doctoral researcher at China Agricultural University, titled “The Power of Life,” shows cucumber seeds growing in a petri dish. The purpose of the experiment is to test how seeds germinate, and how fast and well seedlings are likely to grow and establish crops. The results are important for cucumber breeding. 

Rachel Burley said: “Often when people think of science and research, they think of supercomputers, space exploration or bacteria growing in petri dishes, which may seem removed from their daily life. This photo very much brings home the fact that a lot of research has a direct impact on many aspects of the way we live. It showcases the science and curiosity behind much of what people come across on a daily basis – such as cucumbers in the supermarket. At the same time, its striking simplicity is a powerful illustration of life’s ability to develop and grow where we may not expect it.”

The winner was chosen from 266 entries across four research-related categories: people at work; close-ups of equipment; plants and animals; and microscopy. Ten highly commended and an additional 48 images – of which another ten are available to journalists – were chosen for visual appeal, as well as their relevance to the competition’s themes of progress, innovation, curiosity and integrity. They reflect the variety of research published in BMC’s over 300 open access journals.

The competition is part of a wider brand refresh in which Biomed Central is becoming BMC, launching a reinvigorated identity sixteen years after pioneering the open access model.

Rachel Burley said: “The BMC Research in Progress Photo competition was created to celebrate the innovative progressive spirit of the research community. At BMC, we believe that our authors, editors and peer reviewers share our enthusiasm for innovation, science and progress, and we wanted to see it from their perspective. Since we started as the first open access publisher, we have never stopped looking for new ways to help our communities achieve their goals.

“Now as BMC and as part of Springer Nature, we extend this commitment to communities and disciplines beyond biology and medicine, and around the world. The variety and range of the images submitted to our competition reflect this widened focus as we and our communities move forward together.”


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Notes to editor:

1.    The winning image, runner up, highly commended and special selection images can be found here.
Appropriate credit must be given in any re-use. Credit and caption information can be found here.

2.    A blog announcing the winners can be found here.

3.    A pioneer of open access publishing, BMC has an evolving portfolio of high quality peer-reviewed journals including broad interest titles such as BMC Biology and BMC Medicine, specialist journals such as Malaria Journal and Microbiome, and the BMC series. At BMC, research is always in progress. We are committed to continual innovation to better support the needs of our communities, ensuring the integrity of the research we publish, and championing the benefits of open research. BMC is part of Springer Nature, giving us greater opportunities to help authors connect and advance discoveries across the world.