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Winners announced: Images with Impact – The Great British Imaging Competition

Copyright: Ian Newton
Highlights from: 20 years of bioscience
  • Amazing images from around the UK have been voted for by the public to decide the overall winner of BBSRC's Images with Impact competition
  • The winner – "Microtubules in vitro" stunned visitors at the Great British Bioscience Festival in November

Eighteen amazing entries made it to the shortlist after a gruelling judges round, and now the overall winner, the category winners and the runners-up have been decided by public vote.

Overall winner Ian Newton from Dundee was the favourite for his unique and somewhat haunting perspective on microtubules. Ian's image was up against two other spectacular images who won category winner prizes.

The Images with Impact competition has sought the best photos that represent how life sciences are changing the world, in areas like: food, farming, bioenergy, biotech, industry and health.

Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC Chief Executive said: "The wonderful, thought-provoking pictures received through our Images with Impact competition demonstrate the beauty of bioscience, which we have been celebrating in our 20th anniversary year. The competition has proven to be a brilliant opportunity to showcase to the public, interesting perspectives on the range of world-leading bioscience BBSRC funds in the UK."

Overall winner: Microtubules in vitro by Ian Newton, University of Dundee

This striking Edvard Munch-like image presents a surprising perspective on 'Microtubules in vitro'. Microtubules are found in eukaryotic cells where they help form a cell's cytoskeleton. Amongst other roles they also play a part in cell division.

BBSRC-researcher category winner: Rib and muscle by Mohammad Hajihosseini, University of East Anglia

This image shows the beautiful arrangement of muscles (in red) that surround and connect our rib bones (large blue circles) together. The muscles rhythmic contraction throughout life is vital for the expansion of the rib cage and to allow normal breathing.

Student category winner: Cleaning hair of an ant by Alexander Hackmann, University of Cambridge

In the course of evolution, insects have developed a variety of strategies to reduce surface contamination. Many insects regularly clean their antennae with a specialised cleaning device on their front legs. Alexander's PhD project focuses on understanding the underlying biomechanics of these cleaning structures. This Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) image shows a tiny polystyrene particle (five times smaller than the diameter of a human hair) covered with smaller particles, which is attached to a cleaning hair after its removal from an ant's antenna. So far nothing is known about the forces acting between the cleaning hairs and the particles to be cleaned. This is the first time that a SEM image shows the bond between a single cleaning hair and a contaminant.

The public's favourite and overall winner, Ian Newton said: "I am delighted with the result. The image was produced as part of an experiment thanks to excellent image facilities at the University of Dundee. The fact it bears striking similarity to a famous painting was totally coincidental as at times with science, something totally unexpected appears that can be very beautiful."



These images are protected by copyright law and may be used with acknowledgement.

Images with Impact – Winners and runners up

Overall winner 

Microtubules in vitro. Copyright: Ian Newton

BBSRC-researcher category – winner 

Rib and muscle. Copyright: Mohammad Hajihosseini

Student category – winner 

Cleaning hair of an ant. Copyright: Alexander Hackmann

Student category – runner-up 

Muscle fibres of the heart. Copyright: Laurence Jackson

Public category – runner-up 

Long legged fly. Copyright: Laurie Knight

BBSRC-researcher category – runner-up 

Healthy red blood cell in fibrin fibres. Copyright: Etheresia Pretorius and Douglas Kell

Notes to editors

Hundreds of entries were received for the competition, with runners-up from each category receiving accolade.

Student category – Runner-up: Muscle fibres of the heart by Laurence Jackson, University College London

The heart is an extraordinarily complex muscle, ensuring the circulation of blood throughout the body. Both the muscular action which pumps the blood, as well as the electrical pacing of the contractions depend heavily on the muscle fibre architecture. This image was created using Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which uses the movement of water along these fibres to determine their positioning.

Public category – Runner-up: Long legged fly by Laurie Knight from Tunbridge Wells

"Long legged flies have long been one of my favourite subjects to capture. I find the patterns on the compound eyes fascinating, and as subjects they are plentiful.

"As a result of several focus-stackers noticing these patterns, a couple of scientists are actually investigating the physical structure of the colour in the eyes and the role of the different colours. Personally I always wondered whether the colours were connected to the flies' amazing startle reflex." – Laurie Knight

BBSRC-researcher category – Runner-up: Healthy red blood cell in fibrin fibres by Etheresia Pretorius and Douglas Kell, The University of Manchester

This is a micrograph of a red blood cell surrounded by fibrin fibres, taken at 30,000x magnification by a scanning electron microscope. The cell is from a healthy 63-year old man.

When a wound occurs – even inside the body – the body reacts by activating the "clotting cascade". A fibrin fibre network is formed which looks like a fisherman's net, entrapping red blood cells. This process prevents the body from bleeding profusely. Healthy people without cardiovascular disease have disc-shaped red blood cells, covered by individual fibrin fibres, as seen in this image.

"In cardiovascular disease, red blood cells twist around and are entrapped in thick, matted fibrin that may block vessels and lead to a stroke. Our research aims to promote and develop diagnostics for healthy cell states." – Etheresia Pretorius


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £484M (2013-2014), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see:
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see:

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