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Art of Science Contest

Art of Science Banner

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 inaugural "Art of Science" contest, which aims to celebrate and bring awareness to the beauty that can emerge during scientific exploration.

Beginning February 22, UC San Diego students and postdoctoral and faculty researchers 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.

Contest Timeline

  • Submissions: Closed
  • Voting: Closed
  • Winning images announced: May 24

Submission Guidelines

  • UC San Diego and UC San Diego affiliated undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral and faculty researchers are eligible to participate.
  • One submission per participant, team, or group. Teams and groups must designate a single point of contact (the official submitter) and all decisions will be based on that person. Any money awarded would be to that person and the Library would not be involved in disbursement of funds within a group.
  • Submissions should be original research outputs based on original research conducted in residence at or in affiliation with UC San Diego.
  • Include a title and a caption (referred to as “subtitle” on the submission website) that communicates the science behind the image in a clear and engaging way, and a detailed description.
  • Images may be obtained by any imaging technique, or may be the result of modeling and simulation, or can be obtained by combining multiple images into one artistic image. Photographs may also be of instrumentation, apparatus, devices or other objects used in your scientific investigation.
  • Images may be modified to enhance their aesthetic.
  • Image minimum width and height: 2160px x 2160px
  • File size: 50 MB or smaller
  • Accepted file formats: jpg, gif, tiff or png.
  • Images cannot contain any personally identifiable information.


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: Communicates the science behind the image in a clear and engaging way

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 favorite.”

Awards and Recognition

  • Judge-selected images:
    • One winner from each participant category (undergraduate, graduate, postdoc, and faculty) will receive a $75 prepaid Visa card.
    • Up to three honorable mentions (no monetary award).
  • Open-voting selected image (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. All images will be viewable and preserved in the Library’s Research Data Collections repository.

Please direct questions about the contest to Abby Pennington at