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2009 Image of Research Winners
Fat! In the Right Places!
Vandana Keskar, Biopharmaceutical Sciences
The focus of my dissertation research has been to develop a highly macroporous tissue engineering scaffold that would enable stem cell viability and differentiation. The stem cells used in my project are human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), a type of adult stem cells.
One of the many tests that are carried out to confirm the isolation of a stem cell population from whole human bone marrow, is to test the multipotency of the cells. Multipotency is the ability of MSCs to be differentiated to adipocytes (fat), chondrocytes (cartilage) and osteoblasts (bone). Shown in the image are the MSCs cultivated on tissue culture plates that have been induced to adipocytes, which is detected by the presence of fat or lipid vacuoles. The lipid vacuoles have been stained with a lipophillic dye, Sudan III, which stains lipids red / deep orange. Harris hematoxylin solution was used to counterstain the cells purple. Brightfield images were taken on the Olympus IX70 Inverted Microscope in our lab.
Banan Al-Ansari, Graphic Design
Typography and printing have had major influences on human development. In my thesis I will combine Arabic and Latin typography in order to harmonize them visually and to increase their efficiency as a communication tool for cultures that understand one or both of the languages. The thesis will investigate the effect of juxtaposed typefaces from different alphabets: what do they represent and reflect as they communicate with different cultures?
My processes include studying both alphabets and understanding their essences. To recognize the differences I wrote a paragraph, once in Latin and again in Arabic. Then I tried to abstract the typography by drawing rectangles on the letters in order to observe the differences and shared principles between these two opposite scripts. The results show not only the differences between those alphabets but also the cultures represented by the architecture of cities onto which the typography is overlaid. The abstracted Latin typography is juxtaposed over an aerial photo of Chicago and the abstracted Arabic typography over Marrakech in Morocco. Just as a city can impart a certain identity to its citizens, so can a script lend a particular identity to a language and to a culture’s cherished heritage.
Environmentally Friendly Cements
Oscar Quintana, Civil and Materials Engineering
There is an increase in the demand to reduce environmental impact in the production of Portland cement (most widely used in construction worldwide). This leads to the development of new processes to reduce greenhouse gases in the production. However, the solution would be to come up with a new material that replaces Portland cement.
Working at Argonne National Laboratory in a joint project with UIC, I focused on the development and characterization of new eco-friendly materials for construction applications. My image shows the cross section of this new material, a composite MgO-CaSiO3 (matrix) reinforced with glass fiber (rounded shape sections sticking out located on the left lower part), in which CaSiO3 with elongated grains (cluster located on the center of the image) act as a reinforcement as well stopping possible cracks. This material has shown to have better mechanical properties than regular Portland cement and its commercialization is the primary goal of this project.
Eimy Rivas Plata, Biological Sciences
Lichens are one of the most harmonious and beautiful symbiotic relationships in nature. They can be found almost anywhere, forming communities that can be considered “art mosaics” to the simple view. Among the high diversity of lichen, there is a group that grows in small patches over tree trunks in all kind of forests, from dry to moist ones, showing bright colors and curious shapes. Their presence can indicate air quality, forest health and even the presence of heavy metals. The complex morphology of such lichens tells a highly variable but incomplete story. Molecular analysis helps to form a more complete picture, and that is where my research is focused. Using molecular biology and morphological characters, my study seeks to unveil the evolution of tropical microlichens.
Julio Obelleiro, Electronic Visualization Laboratory
This image is a close up of an interactive installation called The Viewer, which consists of a virtual viewer situated in front of the real viewer, and deals with the visualization and comprehension strategies of the work of art. It presents an interactive device that establishes a relation of visual communication with the audience, showing how the viewer acts in relation to the art piece.
The Viewer deals with the artwork-viewer communication through a direct and simple, but at the same time extreme interaction, as the only activity the virtual viewer performs is to observe the public around him, controlling them visually, reproducing audience behavior. The project tries to invert the usual artwork-viewer relation, being in this case the piece who watches the audience, making them become aware of their own behavior.
The Viewer was created as part of the 3D Modeling class within my work in the MFA program of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at UIC. Last year it was presented at the MOVE New Media Art Fair in Spain where it could be seen by thousands of visitors with very interesting results.
More information and images can be seen at http://www.playthemagic.com/theviewer.
Save Our Past for the Future
Matthew Piscitelli, Anthropology
This image is a visual testament to the widespread looting that occurs throughout much of the developing world. In countries such as Peru, individuals are finding that raping their own heritage for ancient pots and textiles is more profitable than any work they can find in their own country. The systematic looting of archaeological contexts is an epidemic. This 1,000-year-old skull is part of a burial from the site of Porvenir, Peru. Looters, or hauqueros, inhabit known archaeological sites in makeshift tents for several days or even weeks to dig up burials looking for “showy” pieces that would fetch a decent price on the art market—primarily the auction houses of the U.S. and Europe. Whatever is left, including well-preserved skeletal remains such as those pictured, are often left on the surface to rot. Not only are these looters destroying any opportunity to learn about Peruvian prehistory from these human remains, but they are also desecrating their own ancestors.