The 2016 Submissions

The Swarthmore College Biology Department received 18 submissions for the 8th annual Robert Savage Image Award and we are pleased to present them here.

The winners were announced at the Biology Department picnic on May 3.

(Click each image to view a larger version)

1 RBscreenshot

1 Rachel Boone (VIDEO)

Aimed exposure to an infrared laser upon a one week old Arabidopsis thaliana cotyledon gives rise to a localized ring of GFP expression. This GFP expression is used a reporter for the heat shock response. (click here for video)


2 Tymoteusz Alan Chrzanowski

Dyed stone cells from an anjous pear (Pyrus communis).


3 Hali Han

I took this image on the Bio 002 trip to Longwood Gardens mainly with the intent of replacing the default wallpaper on my phone. However, my attempt to pin down the exact species name for the purposes of this caption led to a long chain of enlightening yet inconclusive research. What I have pinned down is that this plant pictured above most likely belongs to the bromeliaceae family, a family of monocot herbaceous plants mainly found in the tropics of South America with the distinguishing features of a tight overlapping leaf base structure that can store water (which can be seen above) as well as the ability to perform crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis to conserve water.


4 Abigail Wong-Rolle

This picture of a sea anemone, Aiptasia pallida, with symbionts was taken accidentally during a Bio II lab. The light reflecting through the beaker makes the anemone look luminous. Anemones with symbionts benefit from sugars produced by its photosynthetic dinoflagellates and provide symbionts protection, shelter and resources. A. pallida with symbiotic Symbodinium sp. exhibit positive phototaxis.


5 David Tian

This is an image of the edge of a freshwater swamp mostly made up of black oak and pitch pine. Sunlight illuminates submerged and decomposing leaves in an otherwise densely shaded area. I came across this small swamp while hitchhiking to one of my field sites along the coast of Vineyard Sound during my time at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Taken with a Nikon D3300. 


6 Vivek Ramanan ’18

This photo was taken in the Kohlberg gardens, just when the flowers were beginning to bloom. I really wanted to focus on the pollen close up so I used my iPhone and a macrolens to take the photo! I was so excited to see that the pollen was so focused that you can see the sharp edges on the center of the flower.


7 Alexandra Rabin

This is an anemone, visualized with a dissecting microscope at 10x magnification. The brown spots are symbiotic organisms living within the anemone’s tentacles! The organisms have evolved to live as symbionts, and it may be interesting to study the effects of the symbionts on the anemones, especially because anemones are a crucial part of coral reefs and therefore affected by rising levels of coral bleaching. 


8 Sierra Spencer

This is an image of two brother Amur tigers, Wiz and Dimitri, wrestling at the Philadelphia Zoo. Over this past summer, I was an Environmental Education and Animal Behavior intern, and conducted research on how Amur tigers’ activity levels varied based on temperature, weather, and time of day. I wanted to give guests information that could help them view these amazing animals when they are active, since two tigers wrestling sparks greater interest in their conservation than two tigers napping in the corner of their exhibit.


9 Liting Chen ’16


I took this picture of a Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) flower at Longwood Gardens two years ago. I decided to zoom in at the center of the flower instead of the petals because 1) for flowers with bright colors and large petals, the center of the flower does not usually get much attention and 2) it signifies the mysterious number “5” hidden in nature.


10 Saadiq Garba ’19 & Nick Ambiel ’19

This picture features a Tardigrade, also known as a water bear, under bright-field microscopy. The Tardigrade has the unique ability to survive extreme pressure and temperature conditions as well as endure for many years without food or water. This extremophile vitrifies itself by attaching sugars to its outer membrane to withstand the extraordinary circumstances in which it can be found.


11 Iris Chan

A sea anemone (Aiptasia pallida) slowly waving its tentacles under a brightfield microscope. Within the coral reef ecosystem, sea anemones form a symbiotic relationship with their dinoflagellate symbionts that is crucial to maintaining biodiversity. This image was taken during my research over the summer with Professor Vallen.


12 Leela Breitman


This is a dissecting microscope image of a Scallop. It reveals the complex beauty of the invertebrate’s mantel, replete with sensory tentacles and image forming “cup” eyes, as well as the beauty of its ribbed, multicolored shell. 



The native but extraterrestrial-appearing skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) spathe curls amidst a carpet of invasive but unassuming lesser celandine (Ficaria verna). The spathe shelters the spadix, a small knob covered in tiny flowers. Skunk cabbage is abundant in the Crum Woods and thrives in wetland areas on the bank of the Crum Creek.  


14 Talia Borofsky


A European Honey Bee, Apis mellifera, uses its sting to defend the colony from small hive beetles, which parasitize bee colonies. The small hive beetle is an invasive species from Africa. There, honey bees and beetles have evolved a balance such that the beetles do not significantly damage colonies (Ellis and Hepburn 2006).  However, as Torto et al. (2007) discovered, European honey bees do not effectively defend themselves from small hive beetles. When a bee encounters an invader, it releases alarm pheromone. A. mellifera are less sensitive to alarm volatiles than their African counterparts, and will only stage a mass attack against an invader once the amount of alarm volatiles reach a certain level. The beetles are very sensitive to the volatiles and actually attracted to them (Torto et al. 2007). By the time alarm pheromone levels are high enough for the colony to detect and respond with a mass attack, it is already infested with beetles. If the colony is already stressed, beetles can evade attack and feed on the colony’s food stores.


15 Jaeheon Kim

This is a photo of frost crystals forming on the leaves of a coniferous tree. It was taken at the top of Hallasan Mountain (한라산) in Jeju Island (재주도) of South Korea during winter using an iPhone 6.


16 Victor T Le

This is an image of male honey bees (Apis mellifera) or drones emerging from drone cells removed from the observation hive in Rachel’s lab. Drones are laid and emerge in the spring and have only one role: to mate with new honey bee queens. They also, fortunately for me, do not have stingers.


17 Sophia Frantz

Shown here are terminal cells of the Drosophila tracheal system. Each terminal cell undergoes an intricate and beautiful developmental process, forming extensive branches and a lumen, or tube, throughout each branch. The cell’s form allows for the delivery of oxygen throughout the body. To study the role of the cytoskeleton in this developmental process I have visualized the stable microtubules (shown in green) and the lumen (outlined in magenta) using confocal microscopy. 

Imaris Snapshot

18 Karl Palmquist

This image depicts a Ciona intestinalis juvenile. It was taken using confocal microscopy and stained for actin (white) and electroporated with a heart cell specific histone marker (magenta). The image was taken at 10x magnification with 5x zoom.


19 Amy Amuquandoh & Maxine Annoy

Crum Creek Leech: Z stack image of posterior sucker musculature. Turn over some rocks in the creek, and eventually you’ll find a leech! These leeches aren’t out for your blood; they feed exclusively on aquatic invertebrates. The posterior sucker acts as a powerful anchor for their inchworm like movement.


20 Elizabeth Flores


With the help of a dissecting microscope I was able to capture an image of two sea anemone as friendly neighbors. These A. pallida are housed and cared for by the Swarthmore College Department of Biology for student and faculty research. A. pallida are a key model organism that have aided researchers in gaining a better understanding of the relationship between dinoflagellates and their hosts.  The implications of this type of research is vital to understanding the relationship between dinoflagellates and their host anemones, making it possible to better comprehend the negative bleaching processes that coral undergo in precious marine ecosystem.


21 Richard Vu

The flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, exhibits its showy flowers under daytime illumination. Instead of petals, the flowering dogwood has pink, petal-like bracts that surround its numerous little greenish-yellow flowers.


22 Amanda Chan


Moon jelly (Aurelia aurita) photographed in the New England Aquarium, Boston. As adults, these ethereal-looking Cnidarians live less than a year. In the center of the jellyfish’s bell, the pattern composed of four circles is its gonads.


23 Alden Dirks

Tardigrades are microscopic aquatic organisms that inhabit moss and lichen and have the amazing ability to survive extreme conditions such as outer space. I collected this tardigrade from a local moss patch and visualized it using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). This image shows the ventral side (belly) of the tardigrade; note the tardigrade’s pharynx used to eat other microscopic prey and its four pairs of grasping claws. The dehydration process required for SEM probably made this tardigrade collapse in on itself, resulting in an abnormally wrinkly and folded sample.


24 Anna Bigney

An Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) crossing the road


25 Lesia Liao

Presynaptic larval motor neurons and muscle side of the neuromuscular junction in 3rd instar Drosophila melanogaster. One can see where the motor neurons (green) make synapses with the muscle fibers (red). Notice the repetition of the neurons’ morphology with their long axons as well as the delicate branching patterns of their dendrites. The two main axon projections are clearly innervating motor muscles in the larvae in regular vertical segments. Image obtained using confocal microscopy. 


26 Rebecca Mayeda

Intricate patterning of a washed-up pufferfish.





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