ASM Announces 2022 Agar Art Contest Winners
Washington, D.C. – Nov. 30, 2022 – The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) announces the winners of their 8th annual Agar Art Contest. Since 2015, ASM’s Agar Art Contest has given scientists and artists a platform to showcase their creativity by using live microbes to ‘paint’ images on agar, a gelatin-like substance that serves as food for the microorganisms. Artists are also permitted to submit entries to the “Open” category, using any artistic medium for their works.
In order to increase representation and spotlight famous and forgotten scientists and their stories, this year’s artists were given the theme of "Your Favorite Microbiologist." Nearly 200 works of art were submitted, each telling a different story through both art and words. Voting was conducted by "liking" images on ASM's Flickr page.
Submissions to the “Professional” category came from individuals with regular access to laboratory space and materials. “Your Favourite Microbiologist—Rosalind Elsie Franklin” by Mohamadiya Rizwana M, Shanmuga Priya and Mrs. Manonmani from PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research won first place in the “Asia” section. Honoring Franklin’s work deciphering the structure of DNA, the group says they created their work “as a tribute to Franklin’s priceless contribution, which has been the basis of modern diagnostic microbiology.”
Joaquín Acosta, André Barbet, Camilo Berríos-Pastén and Andrés E. Marcoleta from the Universidad de Chile won first prize in the “Americas” section for their submission, “Fanny Hesse.” In recognition of Hesse’s contribution to the development of nutrient agar, the group states that “we want to pay a humble tribute to a point person in the history of microbiology.” A stylistic homage to Andy Warhol, the piece uses 4 different types of microbes grown to express different colors for each panel.
The prize for the “Europe” section went to Martyna Pietrzak from the Poznań University of Life Sciences for “How did I meet Odo Feliks Kazimierz Bujwid?” According to Pietrzak, the piece, which uses 9 different microbes as its paint, honors the father of the first female Polish veterinarian.
The winning submission in the “Creator” category, open to artists who created their work either in a classroom or an informal setting, like a community lab or maker space, is “Paragon of Microbiology” by Fiza Sikandar, Linta Khalid and Kosar Bano from the University of the Punjab. The multi-panel artwork uses Serratia marcescens (orange/red color) and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa (yellow and off-white color) to depict renowned microbiologists Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch and Rita Cowell.
“Esther Miriam Zimmer Lederberg” by Xiang En Lim from the Institute of Technical Education College East is the winner of the “Open” category, which accepted submissions that used any form of artistic media (e.g., paint, drawing, music, video, writing). “I hope to inspire young people across the world to discover a love of science and inform the public about scientists who make new discoveries possible,” said Lim, whose work was created with colored pencils on paper.
Finally, there are 2 winners in the “Kids” category (for artists aged 12 years old and younger). One is “Ruth E. Moore” by Casey Harelik from Knudson Middle School. Harelick says she chose to depict Moore, the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in a natural science, because “she was a clear inspiration in her field.” Her work uses Micrococcus luteus bacteria to paint the image.
The other winner is “My Favourite Microbiologist, My Mother!” by Xinyu Lin from Yumin Primary School. “My mother is my role model, she inspires and motivates me to become a microbiologist just like her,” said Lin in paying tribute to her mother, Jia Xi Ang, who is a lecturer at the Institute of Technical Education College East in Singapore.
The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and health practitioners. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.
ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications, educational opportunities and advocacy efforts. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.