Contest Rules

  1. Submissions should be high-quality photos (at least 8" x 10" at 300 ppi) of pieces that are, at their core, one or more microorganisms growing on agar.

    1. You may use any organism(s), with any type(s) of agar, on any size or shape petri dish.

    2. No digital or artificial enhancements or manipulations (e.g., false coloring through lighting or Photoshop) are permitted. Non-microbial props within the piece are also not allowed.

    3. Pieces should be new and original, not seen/posted on the internet before or previously published or displayed elsewhere.

    4. Pieces must be accompanied by a description that captures key features of the piece in language appropriate for a general audience. Note that the description is judged as well as the piece!

  2. Pieces must be created safely in the appropriate Bio Safety Level environment for the organism(s) used. For more information, please consult ASM's Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories.

  3. Each submission may have up to 5 credited artists. If the submitter contributed to the creation of a piece, he/she/they must list themselves as a credited artist with up to 4 additional credited artists. If the submitter did NOT contribute to the creation of a piece (for example, he/she/they is submitting on behalf of a child or workshop participant) he/she/they should NOT list themselves as credited artists.  

  4. Each credited artist may be listed on a maximum of 2 pieces. 

  5. Submitters must be at least 18 years old. Minors must have an adult who is, or has permission from, the appropriate legal guardian submit on their behalf. ASM is not responsible for obtaining the permission of legal guardians or verifying that it has been obtained.

  6. Submitters must choose the appropriate contest category based on the age and experience of the credited artists. Pieces determined by ASM staff to have been submitted to the wrong category may be disqualified without prior notice to the submitter or to credited artists.

Judging Process & Winner Notification

All submissions go through an initial first cut to narrow entries to the top 45-50 in each category. Judges then use a rubric to evaluate those finalists based on the following criteria:
  • creativity and orginality in technique, organism(s) used and agar(s) used
  • overall artistry of the piece
  • scientific accuracy of the description
  • appropriateness and accessibility of the description for a general audience

After verifying the submitter's eligibility, top scoring pieces in each category are awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. 

Finalists in the 'Professional' category are also posted on ASM's Facebook page and the People's Choice award is given to the piece that garners the greatest number of 'likes' within the voting timeframe (up to 5:00 pm U.S. E.T. on the last day of voting).

Winners are announced on, through ASM social media channels and through direct email to all submitters.

Eligibility & Prizes

ASM's Agar Art Contest has 3 different categories, with different eligibility criteria and different prizes. Please verify that you are entering the correct category of the contest by using the flowchart below! If you are uncertain, email

  Professional Maker Kids
1st Place $200 Visa GC + ASM credit $200 Visa GC + ASM T-shirt $200 Visa GC + GIANTmicrobe
2nd Place $150 Visa GC + ASM credit $150 Visa GC + ASM T-shirt $150 Visa GC + GIANTmicrobe
3rd Place $100 Visa GC + ASM credit $100 Visa GC + ASM T-shirt $100 Visa GC + GIANTmicrobe
People's Choice $50 Visa GC + ASM credit -- --
Winners in the 'Professional' category will also be featured in the Agar Art Gallery at the ASM Microbe conference.

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