Grad Research Photo Competition

Take a photo that captures your research.


2021 Winners

1st Place


Beneath the Ice

Kirsten Steinke, Ph.D. student, College of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences

On a brisk winter morning in July, we head out on one of our reliable Zodiacs in search of the animal that fuels the Antarctic ecosystem: krill. Antarctic krill are small crustaceans (at most about the length of your pinky finger) that move around in large swarms in an attempt to avoid predation by seals, penguins, seabirds, fish and whales. Despite the fact that krill sustain predator populations and a rapidly growing global fishery, they are resilient and have discovered ways in which to adapt to increasing anthropogenic disturbances and climate change. While their adaptive capabilities are still not fully understood, their ability to survive is noteworthy and is evidenced by the fact that the biomass of this one species is greater than the biomass of all the humans on Earth combined! We push the encroaching sea ice out of our way and maneuver through the sea of icebergs, thinking about the best way in which to deploy our nets in an attempt to capture both krill, and copepods—their zooplanktonic prey. With the wind approaching gale speeds, catching these critters is not easy. The krill are elusive and unwilling to be captured, but the trip is not a total loss. We head back to station with jars full of copepods to feed the krill that we are keeping in tanks. Doing research in Antarctica taught me to be resilient, like the krill, as I soon realized the importance of having a backup plan when things get a bit d(icey).


2nd Place


Shades of Hemp Production

Alexander Gregory, M.S. student, horticulture

It’s safe to say that interest in US hemp production is growing, but what exactly does it take to produce the best hemp crop? Because legal hemp production has been underway in the United States for less than ten years, many fundamental questions like ‘how much water should I apply to my plants to maximize quality and growth?’ remain unanswered. The hemp water-use trial conducted at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC) applied different rates of irrigation to several varieties of hemp to assess the effect water availability has on plant size, flower weight, cannabinoid concentration, scent, and even color. Under the direction of OSU’s Global Hemp Innovation Center (GHIC) the data collected from this and several other sites across Oregon represents one of the first steps towards creating research-based recommendations for farmers as they continue to increase the area of land dedicated to hemp production. Water use represents just one of the many aspects of hemp cultivation that needs to be addressed in order to support hemp cultivation in the US. Hemp trials assessing fertilizer rates, pesticide effectiveness, row spacing, and many other foundational aspects of agriculture are currently underway. By developing the baseline recommendations required to successfully produce a high quality hemp crop, researchers can begin to support grower success in much the same way as has been done in corn, wheat, and virtually all other traditional crops for decades.


3rd Place


A Sense for Change

Ashley Hann, M.S. student, marine resource management

As we completed a day of research in the Palmer Deep Canyon region of the Western Antarctic Peninsula, I gazed off the back of our small vessel on our way back to station. Despite the often hostile and extreme conditions associated with Antarctica, Palmer Deep Canyon is known for the concentration of life that inhabits the area, ranging from microscopic plankton to mammoth whales. We were conducting research to understand how the physical features of the region influence and drive the life there. On our biweekly research surveys, in which we measured things like water temperature and were on the lookout for animals, the conditions varied significantly across the region and between days. On this particular day, our survey started out stormy with waves, wind, and rain, but had ended with clear skies and glassy waters. How did the variability we experienced at the surface influence life at depth? Were certain conditions preferred by certain species? By deploying equipment, like the net stored on the back deck railing in this photo, we are able to get a sense of the conditions and how the life of the region responds throughout the water column to change. The Western Antarctic Peninsula at-large has experienced some of the most intensified warming of anywhere on Earth in recent years. Researching what drives life in such regions and how that life responds to change can improve our understanding of regional and global changes to come.



  Apply   Rules   Judging


How can I apply?

Graduate Students can submit a maximum of one photo per competition year. In addition to your photo submission, please provide the following information through the online submission form.

  • Your name and email
  • Degree (Masters or Ph.D.)
  • Major
  • A title for your photo (7 words max)
  • A brief non-technical abstract describing your image and how it relates to your project (max 250 words)

The abstract must explain your photo to a general audience outside of your field of study!

Selected entries will have the abstract printed and displayed with the photo.


Competition Rules & Regulations

To be considered in the competition, all submissions must be:

  • Original, unpublished photos.
  • Taken by the student submitting the photo.
  • Digital, high resolution photographs in JPEG format.
  • Smartphone photos should be taken with the native camera applications and not through an app such as Instagram for better quality.
  • Cameras can be checked out from Student Multimedia Services (SMS) to take high resolution photos.
  • Printable as 8” x 10” prints.

Note: The Graduate School is required to report all awards to the Office of Financial Aid. This may cause your financial aid award to be revised.

  First place = $500

  Second place = $250

  Third place= $100



Top finalists will be chosen by the judges two weeks prior to the award ceremony on April 26. The winners will be announced during Grad Appreciation Week.

The judging committee will utilize this rubric when selecting the top finalists. Please be aware that by submitting a photo, you agree that the Graduate School and the Valley Library has permission to print your photo if chosen for display in Heckart Lodge or The Graduate Student Commons.