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 Heckart lodge, 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


2022 Winners

1st Place


An Adélies penguin facing the camera with an open beak

A Taste For Science

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

Here I am, flying a research drone at the edge of one of the largest and southern most penguin colonies in the world, Cape Crozier, Antarctica. I set out to capture footage of our team using drones to count the >650,000 Adélies that breed here. I position the GoPro, click it on, and focused on the work of flying. In trundles our main character. Adélie penguins like this one have no natural land-based predators and are quite curious. This one saw some long-legged creatures making a commotion and had time in his day to come investigate. Without hands for poking, these birds explore their world with their bills. It is not uncommon to have one of these characters sneak up behind us while we walk through the colony and tug on a pant leg, untie shoelaces, or knock over an unattended water bottle. My MSc research here at OSU relies on yet another type of camera. I use video loggers taped to the back of these birds to record their foraging behaviors. I spend hours reviewing these videos and recording each time the bird plucks a prey item from the water. The perspective of video-logger points over the back of the penguin’s head and straight into the eyes of a krill, fish, or other prey item as the penguin’s bill flicks up and snatches it. I love that the perspective is flipped in this photo. Now we all know the last thing those krill or fish might see. Photo credit goes to me. Credit for Artistic direction goes to Unnamed Adélie penguin.


2nd Place


A broadnose sevengill shark near a boat with a researcher reaching for it

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat....and a Better Understanding

Jessica Schulte, Ph.D. student, College of Agricultural Sciences

What lies beneath the waters within the northern California Current System? Little is known about the roles that predators play within Oregon and Washington waters. What few studies have been done focused on orcas, sea lions, and shorebirds. However, sharks are abundant in our waters and likely play critical roles in interactions with economically, ecologically, and culturally important fisheries in the region. My research focuses on incorporating the broadnose sevengill shark – an abundant, large, apex predator along temperate coasts – into the understanding of our coastal marine ecosystems. These animals show up seasonally and in high numbers within shallow bays, but little more than that is known. My research focuses on tagging them with movement tracking devices and gathering foraging data to quantify their role. On a cool April day, we arrived in Willapa Bay, WA – a known sevengill haunt in the summer. But when do they actually show up? Unknown unknown unknown. We rode out to one of the deeper spots in the bay and dropped in our baited hooks. Wait wait wait. After a morning filled with rain and hail, the clouds parted, letting the bright sunshine through to warm us as we bobbed around on our boat. Suddenly: tug tug tug. I pulled up the line to reveal…a huge male sevengill! I rejoiced…they’ve arrived! Before we collected tissue samples, my advisor, Dr. Taylor Chapple, measured the length - 2.52 m (8.3 ft)! The largest sevengill I’d seen yet! Sevengill science season has officially begun. Happy happy happy.


3rd Place


Close up of a Big Leaf Maple flower

Bigleaf Maple Flower in Bloom, Under 10x Magnification

Melanie Douville, M.S. student, College of Liberal Arts

As anyone who has tried to remove one may tell you, bigleaf maples are a tenacious tree. It is built for this landscape. The large, lush leaves blanket the canopy, and its exuberant flowers are among the earliest and largest to bloom (to many pollinating insects’ and beekeepers’ delight). Not only can you make maple syrup from a bigleaf, but you can eat its flowers too! They make great tempura and fritters. Native to the Pacific Northwest, bigleaf maples (Acer macrophyllum) are cousins to the traditional syrup producer, sugar maples (Acer saccharum). Preliminary findings from our OSU team suggests nutrients may be significantly higher in bigleaf than sugar maple sap, likely giving it its rich, complex flavor reminiscent of the Willamette Valley and coastal mountain ranges it thrives in. The bigleaf is an integral member of riparian ecosystems. It recycles nutrients and absorbs heavy metals such as iron, asbestos, and lead from groundwater, helps prevent erosion, and is a robust carbon capturing tree. Growing up in rural Oregon, I am deeply invested in the care and celebration of our forests. Inspired by public communicators who bridge the gap between art and science, I saw an opportunity to embrace interdisciplinarity and study art and science communication at OSU’s premier research College of Forestry. Through my work as a research assistant for OSU’s bigleaf sap-tapping project, I hope to inspire new appreciation for our common native species and all they have to offer.


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.