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Art of Science Contest


Data curators at the UC San Diego Library have the privilege of working with researchers from a wide range of scientific disciplines as they prepare data for the Library's Research Data Collections repository. The visually stunning nature of some of these research data sets has inspired the Library's Research Data Curation Program (RDCP) to host its second annual Art of Science contest, which aims to celebrate and bring awareness to the beauty that can emerge during scientific exploration.

UC San Diego students, postdoctoral and faculty researchers, and project scientists are invited to submit images, graphics and descriptions related to their research that explains their work in a way that is both engaging and accessible to non-scientists.

This includes photographs, microscope images, illustrations, visual depictions of complex datasets, the result of modeling and simulation, combined images, and creative representations of your work. Images may be modified to enhance their aesthetic, such as combining multiple images into one artistic work. 

  • For instance, those whose work is highly theoretical or conceptually challenging may wish to design a novel visual metaphor to make it more accessible. 
  • Photographs may be of instrumentation, apparati, devices or other objects used in your scientific investigation. 
  • Photographs of original art or three-dimensional physical models or representations are also eligible as long as they depict your original science or mathematics research. 

Contest Timeline:

    • Submissions: January 18 - March 4    
    • Voting/Judging: March 14 - April 15 
    • Announce winners: May 2 

Submission Guidelines

  • Include a title, a one-line caption that tantalizes audiences, inspiring them to learn more about the research and communicates the science in clear, concise language that is accessible to non-scientists, and a description.
  • Your one-line caption should tantalize audiences, inspiring them to learn more about the research. It should use clear, concise language that is accessible to non-scientists.
  • UC San Diego and UC San Diego affiliated undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral and faculty researchers are eligible to participate.
  • One submission per participant.
  • Submissions should be original research outputs based on original research conducted in residence at or in affiliation with UC San Diego.
  • Image minimum width and height: 2160px x 2160px
  • File size: 50 MB or smaller
  • Accepted file formats: jpg, gif, tif, or png.
  • Images cannot contain any personally identifiable information.

Submit (Starting January 18)


A panel of judges composed of faculty members, senior academic staff, and administrators will review all eligible entries.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Image: aesthetic excellence (captivating, stunning, and/or otherwise visually interesting) as well as scientific or technical interest.
  • Caption: the one-line caption should tantalize audiences, inspiring them to learn more about the research. It should use clear, concise language that is accessible to non-scientists.

A small group of UC San Diego Library administrators will tally votes and, in cases where the judge’s nominations do not coalesce around a clear winner, they will select one from among the top candidates.

Open Voting

Anyone with a PollUnit Art of Science contest link can vote for a single favorite image. The image with the most number of “likes” will be designated as the Open Voting winner.

Awards and Recognition

  • Judge-selected images:
    • One winner from each participant category (undergraduate, graduate, postdoc, and faculty/project scientist) will receive a $75 prepaid Visa card.
    • Up to three honorable mentions (no monetary award).
  • Open voting selection (crowd nominated favorite): $75 prepaid Visa card.

Contest winners will be invited to submit a short video recording of themselves discussing their work. Winning images will be exhibited in Starlight, the Library’s digital exhibit application, and preserved in the Library's Digital Collections repository.

Submit (Starting January 18)

To view 2021 contest winners, visit the Library's Starlight e-exhibit at .

For marketing partners: Art of Science Marketing Toolkit

Please direct questions about the contest to Abby Pennington at .

Previous page, Explore section, Art of Science image: Adi Khen, "Bigeye Octopus Suckers," Open Voting Winner (2021).