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2022 Image of Research Winners & Honorable Mentions

For 2022, the portal to submit entries opened on January 18th and closed on March 18th. During that period, 11 moving image and 55 still image entries were submitted. The members of the jury completed the first round of voting on April 13th and the top scoring entries by division and category moved on to the second round. The 24 finalists were carefully evaluated in the UIC Electronic Visualization Lab (also known as the CAVE), and after 5 hours of deliberation, the honorable mentions and winners were selected.

1st Place - Still Image Heading link

The immune cell distribution in mouse asthma lung

The immune cell distribution in mouse asthma lung

Name: Yi-Chien Wu
Program: Pharmaceutical Sciences
Division: Life Sciences

Description: Asthma is a common inflammatory lung disease that affects people worldwide. It is associated with complex interactions between innate and adaptive immune cells as well as structural cells. The identification of diverse immune cell types and their spatial distribution will provide a comprehensive understanding of asthma pathogenesis and help design potential therapeutic approaches. In my project, I am developing an imaging technology combining tissue optical clearing, light-sheet fluorescence microscopy, and confocal microscopy that could visualize the entire asthma lung at a tissue scale with cellular resolution. Here is a representative cross-sectional image from a whole 3D mouse asthma lung. Our technology allows a label-free visualization of lung airways, alveoli, and vasculature with lung auto-fluorescence (green) as well as CD45 antibody staining on immune cells (red). It is evident that an elevated number of immune cells were recruited in the asthma lung compared to the healthy control lung. Interestingly, most immune cells (red/yellow) were distributed along the airways and vessels and with a lesser amount located in the alveolar region. This image depicts a clear lung architecture and the immune cell distribution in the mouse asthma lung.

2nd Place - Still Image Heading link

Palimpsest Portrait: Plate 1

Palimpsest Portrait: Plate 1

Name: Kristy Ulrich Papczun
Program: Curriculum Studies, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education
Division: Behavioral and Social Sciences

Description: My research at UIC pays attention to hauntings and engages with the ghosts of closed schools in Chicago, building off Ewing’s (2018) work. I document the traces left behind from schools that no longer exist and create palimpsest portraits, or collages of archival data through a photo-transfer method. This serves as a way to analyze the data while reflecting on my experiences as a parent, an educator, and now a researcher connected to Chicago Public Schools. The arts-based methods afford unique insight and an invitation for others to pause and reflect. I argue that closed schools seem to be erased, but linger as palimpsests, permeating the present-day educational spaces in material ways that require re-examination. These palimpsest portraits constitute one stage of my dissertation (portraiture-as-process), will serve as a catalyst for community conversations, and ultimately aim to inform the writing of aesthetically rich portraits (portraiture-as-product) of the closed schools, modeling off Lawrence-Lightfoot’s work (1983; 1997). Plate 1, 2021, plexiglass plate with photo transfer, acrylic medium, 12” x 12” x 0.12”. Includes news images and excerpts from public hearing transcripts when Andersen School was closed and LaSalle II Language Academy was phased into the same building in 2008-2011.

3rd Place - Still Image Heading link

Cheating The Negatives

Cheating The Negatives

Name: Rukmava Chatterjee and Umesh Chaudhari
Program: Mechanical engineering
Division: Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences
DOI: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adma.202109930

Description: ‘When the snows fall and the white winds blow,’ we rush to heated indoors, but nature takes the cold slap. Winter weather with prolonged spells of brutal cold causes the water in plant tissues to freeze, making arboreal life susceptible to disease and eventually leading to massive crop loss. In this regard, we have developed an array of formulations that can significantly delay surface ice & frost formation for long hours. The coatings were prepared by carefully tailoring the material chemistry of three main compounds: a phase change material, a cryoprotectant, and a block-copolymer. As depicted in the image (captured as a part of my research at UIC), we coated a plant leaf in half with the developed coating and chilled the entire surface to −30°C. The top-view image of the leaf captured after an hour of experimentation shows no frost formation on the gel coating (right half), while the uncoated surrounding gets engulfed in thick frost.

Honorable Mention - Still Image Heading link

Relationship. between Plants and Gestational Diabetes

Relationship. between Plants and Gestational Diabetes

Name: Jessica Ustick
Program: Nutrition
Division: Life Sciences

Description: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is one of the leading concerns during pregnancy. It’s associated with heightened glucose levels, hypertension, inflammation, and neonatal complications among other issues. We’re conducting a systematic review assessing the relationship between plant-based diets, foods, and supplements and GDM. Diets high in animal products and refined carbohydrates (junk food) put individuals at higher risk of GDM, whereas diets high in plant foods and low in animal products have been shown to prevent as well as treat GDM. Given as many as 1 in 6 pregnant individuals worldwide are afflicted with GDM, providing easy-to-implement dietary modifications can improve maternal and child health, reducing healthcare system burden and improving the quality of life of those at risk. This image shows a pregnant woman on a mound of plant foods, which is keeping her safe from the hell that is diabetes. You can also see that the unhealthy foods are sinking in the lava and thus not a way to escape GDM. The image was created entirely in Blender, an open source CG application.

Honorable Mention - Still Image Heading link

The life and death of micro droplets

The life and death of micro droplets

Name: Arani Mukhopadhyay
Program: Mechanical Engineering
Division: Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences

Description: Condensation plays a vital role both in research and in industrial applications. While naturally occurring surfaces can be either hydrophilic (water-loving like paper) or hydrophobic (water-hating like wax), we at MNFTL, UIC, engineered surfaces that are a mix of hydrophilic patterns (black colored) on shiny Teflon coated hydrophobic copper. These surfaces are great for condensation (and thus help cool surfaces faster and better) and could play a crucial role in developing next generation electronic chip cooling devices or in developing advanced refrigeration devices. While the actual surface is just a few millimeters across and could seem uninteresting at first glance, looking at it with a camera with a macro-lens opens up a whole new world of small droplets forming, growing bigger, coalescing just to touch the hydrophilic paths and disappear into them forever, which starts afresh the process of new droplets formation. Fast removal of droplets by the hydrophilic paths allows faster condensation rates with better drainage on these surfaces.

Honorable Mention - Still Image Heading link

Elastic Modules in a Rigid Frame

Elastic Modules in a Rigid Frame

Name: Morgan Peterson
Program: Architecture
Division: Fine Arts and Humanities

Description: This photo is the result of a series of experiments conducted to understand how flexible systems interact with a rigid frame. This model was made by pumping concrete into latex balloons that were then set into a rigid frame to cure. After hardening, the balloons were removed to reveal the symbiotic relationship between the frame and the now-stiff concrete volumes: the concrete forms provide shear bracing and lateral stiffening for the frame while the frame provided the necessary compressive forces that shaped and distorted the bulbous forms while in their liquid state.

Honorable Mention - Still Image Heading link

Cancer Associated Fibroblasts

Cancer Associated Fibroblasts

Name: Daniel Principe
Program: MD, PhD
Division: Life Sciences

Description: There is currently no effective treatment for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). While palliative chemotherapy offers a survival benefit to most patients, nearly all will eventually progress on treatment and long-term survivability remains poor. Given the lack of subsequent line treatment options for PDAC, immunotherapy has long been under exploration in PDAC, particularly given the resounding success of immune checkpoint inhibitors in other cancers. However, progress in immunotherapy against PDAC has been exceptionally difficult. Though many such approaches have been explored in clinical trials, few have shown significant therapeutic efficacy (summarized in Principe et al., Cancer Letters 2021). Our group has been particularly interested in the cellular mechanisms underlying the clinical failure of immunotherapy in PDAC, with the ultimate goal of developing novel combination strategies to improve therapeutic responses and long-term survival. Through these efforts, we have identified select populations of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) that facilitate immune evasion in PDAC, thereby limiting therapeutic responses to cancer immunotherapy. In the corresponding image, we show patient-derived CAFs cultured routinely in our laboratory to study these events. Cells were stained with DAPI (blue) to label cell nuclei, as well as for α-Smooth Muscle Actin (red) to affirm their myofibroblast-like phenotype, and Tubulin (green) to show the overall cell architecture. By using these in vitro systems in parallel with mouse models, ex vivo slice cultures, and human PDAC specimens, we have identified several potential means of disrupting CAF-mediated immune suppression (Principe et al., PNAS 2022, Cancer Research 2020, & Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2019), one of which is now showing early promise in Phase 1 clinical testing. As these studies advance to the next stages of clinical testing, our lab is continuing work to identify alternate combination strategies to further improve therapeutic responses for what is largely considered an untreatable disease.

Honorable Mention - Still Image Heading link

Dokutsu

Dōkutsu

Name: Arthur Nishimoto and Sai Priya Jyothula
Program: Computer Science
Division: Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences

Description: Dōkutsu (cave in Japanese) is a representation of HummingbirdVR, a multi-user interactive virtual reality theatrical experience presented during the New Stages 2021 festival by the Chicago Goodman Theatre. The project aims to make live theater more accessible to younger audiences and bring cutting edge virtual reality interaction techniques into a live theatrical performance. The experience is developed in collaboration with award-winning playwright Jo Cattell to balance her initial vision within the technical constraints, while emphasizing real-time VR interaction. The representative image depicts the fusion of the virtual cave environment as seen through the participant’s head mounted display and the photo of the participants during the show. This image demonstrates the perfect alignment of the virtual environment with the real world so that the participants see each other’s avatar in VR exactly at the same location as they would in the real world. The experience is brought together using custom-designed network infrastructure to facilitate seamless interaction among the VR participants. The large display acts as a lens into the virtual world providing the audience with a real time view, making them a part of the digital fairytale.

Honorable Mention - Still Image Heading link

A Metastatic Breast Cancer Cell Exits the Lung Vasculature

A Metastatic Breast Cancer Cell Exits the Lung Vasculature

Name: Benjamin Gordon
Program: Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)
Division: Life Sciences

Description: Metastasis is the primary cause of cancer-related deaths. In order for breast cancer cells to metastasize, the cells must leave the primary site, enter circulation, and then exit the vasculature once again in distant organs. In my thesis project, I am studying how the Notch ligand, JAGGED-1, promotes metastasis by helping the breast cancer cells exit circulation. In this image, a red JAGGED-1 positive breast cancer cell (RFP) was able to exit mouse lung capillaries stained in green (CD31). Blue marks the nuclei. After the cell exits the vasculature, deadly metastatic nodules will form in the lung. These visualizations are imperative in understanding the key mechanisms of metastasis that involve the vasculature. My research utilizes these images to quantify the frequency of vascular escape in breast cancer cells positive or negative for JAGGED-1. The image was captured on Zeiss 880 confocal microscope with AiryScan processing with a 50 micron mouse lung section. 77 z-stacks were stitched together and then flattened to form a 3D image, demonstrating the micro-tubular structures of the vasculature with empty airspace in between in black.

1st Place - Moving Image - Animation Heading link

Home Recovery: Learn post-op self-care instructions in a game

Name: Yu-Sin Huang
Program: Biomedical Visualization
Division: Life Sciences

Description: For my research, I focus on developing an educational game to teach jaw surgical patient and their caregivers about post-operative self-care instructions. The end-product is going to be used at the University of Illinois Hospital (UIH) Craniofacial center as a supplement of post-operative educational material. Jaw surgical patients experience an abrupt lifestyle change for four to six weeks following an operation at home. Self-monitoring recovery conditions and practicing self-care management may be a challenging experience. Dr. Pravin Patel, an orthognathic surgeon at the University of Illinois, found that patients have difficulty adherence to the complicated self-care instructions, although patients have access to text-based educational material. My research proposed that game-based learning provides a risk-free and engaging learning environment for practicing self-care skills. The game was developed in the Unity game engine. This video shows the highlights of the game and may be used to promote the importance of the serious game in both biomedical visualization and the post-operative education field.

1st Place - Moving Image - Live Action Heading link

Making of Islamabad

Name: Muhammad Shafaat Nawaz
Program: Urban Planning and Policy
Division: Behavioral and Social Sciences

Description: As an urban planner, my job and research is to study cities. While cities are dynamic entities with myriad of factors shaping a city life, researchers like me try to make sense of how a city operates. Rather, and far more importantly, we seek to answer the bigger question of why does a city operate the way it does. In doing so, I have been studying cities for a decade now and have been focusing on the spatial planning of cities.
The work that I am submitting here is a part of an ongoing research wherein I am trying to generate educational content from Urban Planning in my country (Pakistan) language: Urdu. The purpose of this effort is twofold: first, I want to take up challenging research as a doctoral student at UIC which this one is, and second that because this kind of knowledge is usually inaccessible to my country fellow back in Pakistan due to language barrier, I want to create such content in native language but with quality content. This video is such an effort and I am determined to go a long way ahead!

Honorable Mention - Moving Image Heading link

Descolonización

Name: Elisa Soto
Program: Museum and Exhibition Studies
Division: Fine Arts and Humanities

Description: When I embarked on the Museum and Exhibition Studies program, the concept that struck me the most was decolonization. As a Mexican cultural advocate, I realized that decolonization is an underused and unfamiliar term within the cultural field in Mexico and Latin America. My research project focuses on developing a tool to identify and diminish colonial narratives in the written spectrum within Mexican contemporary art museums. One of the early steps of my project includes explaining decolonization in the museums’ framework in the easiest way possible. This video is beneficial to my project and a helpful tool for incoming students of the MA MUSE program.

Honorable Mention - Moving Image Heading link

The Sound of Quantum Mechanics

Name: Jasmin Bedow
Program: Physics
Division: Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences

Description: As transistors and other elementary components in electronic circuits – the crucial building blocks for anything from iPhones to supercomputers – become smaller and smaller, they approach the limit where quantum physics becomes important. Thus, understanding how the principles of quantum mechanics can be utilized for next-generation computing is one of the most important challenges in the field. A promising route towards the realization of such quantum computers are topological superconductors, which harbor new exotic particles called Majorana fermions. How to create and manipulate these particles to perform elementary computations – a major obstacle to the realization of quantum computing – is at the center of my research. In the submitted animation, I demonstrate theoretically how the electronic properties of a topological superconductor evolve when one shines light of different wavelengths on it. The evolution of the system eventually leads to the emergence of a Majorana fermion, which you can observe as the bright spot at the end of the movie. The wave-like patterns occurring therein demonstrate one of the central concepts of quantum mechanics: the fact that any object has particle-like and wave-like properties. I converted these wave-like properties into sound waves, allowing you to hear the sound of quantum mechanics.