Celebrating its 37th year, Nikon Small World has become the top forum for showing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope, and it celebrates the world's best photomicrographers who create beautiful imagery while demonstrating a variety of scientific principles.
When a small bug landed on Dr. Igor Siwanowicz's hand and began "fiercely digging its mandibles" into his skin, he did not swat it away. Instead, he removed a tiny test tube from his pocket - which he carries for occasions such as these - and captured it as a potential subject for his photomicrography passion.
Little did he know at the time, but this chance meeting with what is actually the Common Green Lacewing would lead Dr. Siwanowicz of Madison, Wisconsin being named the winner of the 2011 Nikon Small World competition. "My art causes a dissonance for its viewer - a conflict between the culturally imprinted perception of an insect as something repulsive and ugly with a newly-acquired admiration of the beauty of its form," said Dr. Siwanowicz, who completed his doctoral studies in protein crystallography but now works in invertebrate photography for research. "My hope is that in some way, my photomicrographs prompt people to realize the presence of cultural programming, question it, and eventually throw it off as an illusion. I am so pleased to be recognized by Nikon Small World for this philosophy, but also the technical expertise it required to capture this photo."
Nikon Small World recognizes excellence in photomicrography, honoring images that successfully showcase the delicate balance between difficult scientific technique and exquisite artistic quality. Among this year's top five images, including the green lacewing larva, are a blade of grass, Melosira Moniliformis/living specimen; intrinsic flourescence in liverwort and a microchip surface/3D construction.
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