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.

Voting has closed.

Winners announced this Friday!

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  • Original, unpublished photos.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, which may have an impact on your current financial aid award, if applicable.

  First place = $500

  Second place = $250

  Third place= $100

 

Judging

Top finalists will be chosen by the committee two weeks prior to the first day of Grad Appreciation Week. Graduate Students will be able to vote for their favorite photo from April 5 to April 12.  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.


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

 

Mixtecs

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.

Past 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

 

Mixtecs

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.

1st Place

Unexpected Interactions  Heather Fulton-Bennett, Ph.D. candidate, integrative biology

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

The Molinillo Maker  Gretchen Engbring, Ph.D. candidate, forest ecosystems & society

 

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

Jessica Shulte, 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

Little Salamander, Big Impact

 

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.

1st Place

Beneath the Ice

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

 

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

Little Salamander, Big Impact

 

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.

1st Place

Unexpected Interactions  Heather Fulton-Bennett, Ph.D. candidate, integrative biology

Unexpected Interactions

Heather Fulton-Bennett, Ph.D. candidate, integrative biology

Most people looking into a tide pool see the sea urchins, the snails, the fish... But what about those bright pink crusts? Those are coralline red algae, of no relation to corals, but of great importance to marine communities. Found from polar kelp forests to tropical coral reefs, coralline algae provide food and habitat for many species, including corals and sea urchins. However, this isn't their only role. Coralline algae also release a chemical cue that induces the larvae of many invertebrates to settle from their free-floating planktonic stage to their crawling adult form. Along Oregon's coast, chitons, abalone, sea urchins, and limpets all rely on coralline algae in one or more ways. As our ocean warms and becomes more acidic, coralline algae are likely to decline, possibly up to 90%, due to the increasing stress of these conditions. One of the reasons these algae have been so successful is their calcium carbonate skeleton that protects them from grazers, waves, and tumbling rocks. Unfortunately, this calcium carbonate structure also makes them very susceptible to ocean acidification, as the process to secrete calcium carbonate becomes increasingly energetically expensive. This negative affect on coralline algae will likely have cascading effects through the organisms that rely on them for food, habitat, and settlement cues. In coral reefs, ocean acidification led to a significant decrease in successful coral settlement to coralline algae, and we may see a similar effect in colder waters as the settlement cue is affected and coralline populations decline.

2nd Place

The Molinillo Maker  Gretchen Engbring, Ph.D. candidate, forest ecosystems & society

 

The Molinillo Maker

Gretchen Engbring, Ph.D. candidate, forest ecosystems & society

While conducting interviews in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, my colleague and I followed a mechanical humming to a small adobe workshop perched on a forested hilltop in the neighborhood of “Las Ánimas”. The workshop's sole occupant was narrowly focused on his profession of over 50 years: crafting wooden whisks called “molinillos”. In an interview conducted over the sound of the whirring motor, we were told the molinillo maker was one of many residents whose livelihood was inextricably linked to the community-owned and managed forests we studied. At the end of the interview, I purchased a molinillo and thanked its creator, looking forward to the many cups of frothed hot chocolate the wooden tool would make. “Do you know what Las Ánimas means?” my colleague asked me as we walked away through the dappled shade of the pines. I shook my head, the buzz of the workshop fading in the distance. “It means 'the souls'”, he said. Fitting, I thought, for the people who made the forests where I conducted my fieldwork feel so alive.

3rd Place

Little Salamander, Big Impact

 

Little Salamander, Big Impact

Christopher Cousins, Ph.D. student, wildlife science

Columbia torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton kezeri) perched on a mossy streamside log looks out over his domain, facing an uncertain future. This species of salamander is only found in the Pacific Northwest, where it inhabits cold, fast-flowing headwater streams. Habitat loss and climate change are threatening the survival of this species, and this photograph was taken during surveys gathering information to assist with the decision to place it on the United States Endangered Species list. Don't let its small size deceive you, this species plays an important role in the ecosystem it inhabits! This amphibian is active both in the streams and riparian forest, making it an important link in the flow of nutrients between the two habitats. Many of the streams that they live in are fishless, and as a result salamanders are the ecologically dominant vertebrates in these streams. By consuming insects and arthropods, salamanders can have large impacts on the macroinvertebrate community. Many of the animals that they eat feed on leaf litter and other organic matter that stores carbon which would otherwise escape into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Less salamanders means more macroinvertebrates and less organic matter, and that could have a strong effect on climate change. My research seeks to discover the ecological role that salamanders have on their ecosystem in Pacific Northwest forests. By giving tangible ecological values to these amphibians, we can better understand what the forests would be like without them, and how the rippling effects would change our world.