Science images that raise questions

Schweizerischer Nationalfonds / Swiss National Fund

Bern (Feb)

The SNSF Scientific Image Contest offers unusual perspectives on research conducted in Switzerland. The jury of the 2022 edition has awarded fourteen works that raise questions, wonder and often make people laugh. They will be exhibited at the Biel Photographic Conference in May 2022.

Virtual representation of a historic building, dance of neurons, passage through a floating plate and rotting corpses: the international jury of the SNSF 2022 Scientific Image Contest has awarded four first prizes and ten distinctions this year. The competition organized by the Swiss National Science Foundation had received 334 proposals, from which the jury chose. But all the work reveals the variety of research conducted in Switzerland and demonstrates its ability to surprise, question and fascinate.

Sensitive and poetic translation of data

A visualization of a historic building consisting of 15 billion three-dimensional dots wins first prize in the “Object of Study” category. ETH Zurich’s Patrick Fleming and Petronella Mill’s image captivated the jury with its “amazing level of detail that projects the audience into the metaverse.”

The first prize in the category “Women and men of science” was awarded to Lara Indra of the University of Bern for a snapshot taken by a wildlife surveillance camera while studying the processes of decomposition in the forest, a “true view of the fieldwork “, according to the jury. The doctoral student adds: “What I liked about this photo is that, for once, the camera did not photograph a fox or a mouse, but myself working.”

July Fahy of the University of Landscape, Engineering and Architecture in Geneva wins the “Places and Tools” category for her photograph of a strange “floating plate” used to collect greenhouse gases emitted by ponds. For the jury, this image with “good framing and elegant reflections on the water, as well as a bit of humor” reminds us that “research feeds on ingenuity and knows how to take advantage of DIY appliances.” For the doctoral student, “photography is a great tool both to document our work and the evolution of ponds throughout the seasons and to show in a concrete way our field activities and communicate our results.”

The “Videos” category is won with a timelapse of microscopic images showing the growth of neurons produced by Alexandre Dumoulin of the University of Zurich. “A very nice visualization of complexity in biology,” the jury writes.

Ten mentions were also attributed to different works depicting the inside of an elephant’s trunk, details of plant reproduction, or even mathematical mountains.

More than 2300 images and videos available online

All entries in the contest – more than 2,300 so far – are available in an online Flickr gallery. Images from 2018 may be used for non-commercial and media purposes under a Creative Commons license.

The winning images and videos of the 2022 edition can be discovered in an exhibition of the Biel Photographic Conference from 6 to 29 May 2022. On 12 May 2022 there will be a guided tour with the presence of the authors.


The 2022 jury

The jury is chaired by Lars Lindemann, director of photography for Geo magazine (Germany). The other members of the jury are:

  • Emmanuel Ferrand, mathematician, Sorbonne University (France)
  • Emmanuelle Giacometti, director of the Espace des Inventions (Switzerland)
  • Cécile Lestienne, editorial director of Pour la Science and Cerveau & Psycho (France)
  • Alexander Sauer, photographer (Switzerland)


The text of this press release and more information are available on the website of the Swiss National Science Foundation.


Swiss National Science and Communication Foundation, Corinne Ammann, Wildhainweg 3, 3001 Bern, Tel .: +41 31 308 22 03, E-mail: [email protected]

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