Grad Research Photo Competition

Capture your research with a click.

The Graduate Research Photo Competition provides an opportunity to win a cash award, the prestige of having your photo displayed at the Graduate Student Commons in the Valley Library, and bragging rights!

This contest is open to all currently enrolled Oregon State University master’s or doctoral graduate students in both thesis and course-based programs.



  2022 Winners   Rules   Judging


2023 Winners

1st Place


Plastic floating in the ocean with a sailing ship in the background

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere

M. Kelsey Lane, Ph.D. student, College of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences

We were sailing in the Pacific Ocean on a research cruise studying marin debris far out in the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'. We had been looking for larger marine debris to investigate what sea life might colonize this unique, human-created floating habitat, but we hadn't found much larger debris yet. I was started to get worried the project wouldn't work. On this sunny, calm day, a lookout spotted a large mass of lines and floats on the horizon. We launched the small boat and a couple of us drove off to investigate. We found a massive snarl of old fishing debris, plastic bottles, and even a laundry hamper. I took this photo to capture the size of the marine debris - about the size of a small car - with our ship in the background. It was a bittersweet moment; we were excited to have found what we were looking for, but we realized we could not physically fit this much trash on our ship. We gathered as much as we could and then had to drive away and leave this marine debris to float and break down in the ocean. I took as many photos as I could to document it. Plastic is everywhere!


2nd Place


Soledad Cortés standing in her store


Sharon Salgado Martinez, M.A. student, College of Liberal Arts

This is Soledad Cortés, an Indigenous Mexican Woman from Oaxaca, MX., at her business located in Newport, Oregon. She speaks Mixtec, Spanish, and English. She is a business owner of the only Latino store in Newport. Her store, named "La Juquilita," is where Latinos from all backgrounds come together; it is a place of reunion, memory, and tradition, as they can find plenty of products from their countries (México, Guatemala, Chile, Ecuador, Salvador). My research collects oral histories from indigenous Mexicans in Oregon, and the collection will be available in SCARC of OSU for present and future generations.


3rd Place


Staring into the eyes of a Black-footed albatross

Ocean Eyes

Suzanne Winquist, M.S. student, College of Agricultural Sciences

You are staring into the eyes of a Black-footed albatross. Welcome to Midway Atoll. Maybe you’ve read about this place in your history books. A low-slung cluster of islands in the middle of the Pacific that played an outsized role in WWII. There is even a battle named after it. Well, things have changed out here and these islands are now protected within the Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Sanctuary. This history adds an element of the bizarre to the spectacle of a bustling albatross nesting colony. Millions of birds raise their young here; a new generation of fliers taking off on its defunct runways. Albatross do the work of raising a chick in shifts up to three weeks long. Pairs must be strongly bonded to weather these long sits at the nest, trusting that their mate will return. These bonds are formed and maintained over the years through elaborate courtship dances. You can see two Laysan’s albatross dancing in the background of this photo. The watchful Black-footed albatross in the foreground is perched atop a single egg, waiting for their mate to ride home on a stiff wind and punch in for their shift. I spent my two weeks on Midway looking for this moment of transition. The goal was to tape a GPS and radar detecting tag onto the outgoing bird before it set out to stretch stiff wings and follow the wind as far as the Aleutian islands. These devices track the bird's flight paths and ping radar from ships that birds encounter on their journey. These devices help researchers investigate how and where these birds interact with fishing vessels. I took this photo on a quick break in searching for switching pairs. I was arrested by these marvelous eyes that have seen so much more of the ocean than I ever will. All work conducted under permit.


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 OSU's Media Hub 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. 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.