The inaugural Image of Research at Illinois State competition invited Illinois State students to create or capture one static image of their research and to write a brief narrative explaining how the image relates to their research. Students were asked to choose compelling images to capture the viewers’ attention. The images could take any form, including photographs, drawings, or digital creations, and could convey the research concretely or abstractly.
Submissions were evaluated by a committee of jurors: Mitch Brinker, Director of Art at State Farm Insurance Company; Megan Kathol-Bersett, Interim Director of Illinois Art Station, and Alfonso Gosalbez Berenguer, artist and teacher of Spanish at Tri-Valley Highschool. The committee evaluated the submissions for visual impact, originality, and the connection between the student’s image, narrative, and research project. The entries below are the 2020 finalists.
The Peoples' Choice Award was conducted via Facebook.
Congratulations to our 2020 Image of Research Winners! Thank you to our panel of judges and to all who voted in the Peoples' Choice competition.
First Place: Brett Williams "A Little Light Reading"
Second Place (tie): Rachael DiSciullo "For Whom Does the Male Bird Sing" and Ian Rines "Cricket Conflict"
Honorable Mentions: Julen Carrasco Oteo "Tics' Spyglass" and Rocky Roque "Recoloring a Colorless Community: The Rhetoric and Discourse over the New Pride Flag"
Peoples' Choice: Hannah Harris "Effects of Graston Technique on Blood Flow in the Upper Trapezius"
Narrative: Captain Tics headed the tiny ship towards the Island of the Giants. The Sun beams cut off its already cracked profile. Seaweed covered the twisted high tide line and colorful boulders were scattered all over the coast. In spite of the erosion, Tics could even make out some inscriptions carved on some of the rocks. Unfortunately, most of them were crumbled as if they would have been tossed from afar. “It looks like the lack of a clear-cut argument also infuriates people around here”. Tics roared with laughter while putting the paper-thin spyglass away. Nobody else laughed. The hustle and bustle of the deck made it difficult for anybody else there to hear those frequent sassy comments. Moments later, a crew member, who had just finished tying up the loose ends of ambiguity, approached the captain and said, “But why the Island of the Giants captain? Much older and experienced crews have looked for answers to mood selection there”. Tics gazed at the sweaty crew. Many of them sported ill-looking scars, some shabby tattoos, and others both. Many investigations on syntax came to Tics’ mind. “There we will stand for there is nothing more encouraging than an attainable truth”.
Narrative: Here, a male house wren (Troglodytes aedon) sings with gusto on a honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos) near his nestbox in the Merwin Nature Preserve near Lexington, IL. It is widely understood that male bird song is an honest signal of vigor to other males in competition for territory and mates, and of quality to females for mating. Yet, in many species, it is unknown which particular components of song elicit the most intense competition in males or are most attractive to females. The house wren is one such species. Male house wrens, like the one pictured here, sing highly varied, multi-component songs that appear to be important in male competition and female choice, but the specific song components that promote success in these contexts remain unknown. My research focuses on identifying what role different male song components play in male competition and female choice, to better understand how sexual selection (a mechanism of evolution) has directly and indirectly shaped this elaborate trait. This image is reflective of the unknowns I face in my work—we see that the male sings, but we do not yet know how that song, or the particular components therein, relate to his mating success.
Narrative: The image is of a young refugee who is shackled by the war conditions. The bars behind him demonstrate that barriers that exists between him and his ability to pursue his education amidst the turmoil. It is no surprise as several barriers exist between refugees and education including obtaining transcripts, qualified teachers, infrastructure and so on. Despite governmental and agency efforts including frameworks for the rehabilitation of the refugee population, education has taken a back seat and is not often included in these emergency responses. Encouraging these young men and women to pursue higher education and inculcating the lost hope among the refugee population is the need of the hour. My argument is that from a social justice perspective, institutional leaders should initiate policies and processes that break the barriers for refugee students to access education, and to enable them to pursue opportunities to enhance their developmental potential that contributes to rebuilding their post-conflict nations. My research is to inquire about the perspectives of university leadership in U.S. institutions towards refugee student enrollment for both undergraduate and graduate programs along the lines of policy changes for admission requirements, student services, faculty training, and curriculum changes. Let’s bring back the light!
Narrative: I remember the fear I had when feeling the need to get up and dance to the music playing in a party. My mum would say we don’t want people to say how a cantor’s, a religious singer’s, daughter can dance. I must dance when I feel down, to make sense of the cruelty of the world. I had to be careful not to do anything that resembled rhythmic movements. Once as I was crossing the street with one of my friends, a boy, I did a turn holding his hand. He said he would never approve of his partner doing things like that, as it is breaking a taboo. I came here to get away from such judgment. Little did I know that on this side of the world, people do not even know that Persian dance exists! That is why I decided to research History of Persian dance: in order to give it its due recognition. I am most interested in researching Baba Karam, known for its jazz-looking costume including the handkerchiefs and the hat, all of which are essential to the movements involved in this Persian style of dance.
Narrative: I am studying about a style of doors in my home country, Iran. They were common when I was a child. I have been taking pictures of them in the old neighborhoods in different cities during my travels since 2014. Recently, I have focused on making paintings of them in my studio practice.
I believe you can focus on the house, its structure and its elements to think and talk about the residents, family. The doors are interesting as a barrier between two different realms. They are the gates between intimate people and others. They are mysterious, closed and blocking. We can just stop by the door, look at it and imagine. I want to invite the audience to think about what is going on behind these doors. It could be something between a happy life and a disaster. The irony that they have fragile elements like flowers and animals out of metal on them is also appealing to me. Also, we can consider the surface of the doors as the third realm. Considering stranger people who put the sticker on the doors and went. Stickers that are not wanted and were tried to be removed.
Narrative: The purpose of this research study is to examine the effects of Graston Technique on blood flow in the upper trapezius muscle. Non-specific neck pain effects two-thirds of the general population commonly due to trigger points present in the upper trapezius muscle. Daily activities such as sitting at desk, working on a computer, driving, and others lead to poor posture. Poor posture influences the upper trapezius muscle activity causing the muscle to become taut. When a muscle becomes taut the amount of blood flow received by the muscle tissue is decreased leading to the formation of trigger points. Graston Technique uses stainless-steel instruments with beveled edges to break down tight muscle tissue and increase blood flow to the treated tissue. Looking at this image from right to left, the skin appears to redden over the five-minute treatment time. This image displays the visible increase of blood flow to the treated muscle tissue over time during an application of Graston Technique. As the instrument is applied to the muscle tissue, blood flow rises to the surface becoming visible on the surface of the skin. An increase of blood flow to a taut muscle trigger point will provide a healing environment.
Narrative: Whether looking from above or below, or attempting to understand different political opinions, it is hard to refute the fact that in daily life we are constantly confronted with different perspectives. My research and exposure to different philosophies and visual psychology have fostered the notion that attempting to understand the world through multiple perspectives is natural to human behavior and psychology. It seems as though humankind has eternally strived to reconcile seemingly opposing views. In a sense, you might say that collectively (and individually) we have attempted to make “wholes” out of fragments. One of the most widely accepted forms of visual psychology that explains this phenomenon would be the gestalt principal of closure. Closure attempts to explain how human perception is inclined to see forms in a complete state despite the absence of one or more of their parts. One seemingly opposing perspective to gestalt can be observed in the philosophical idea of anatta, which is a Buddhist doctrine that identifies a person’s “self” as constantly undergoing change, therefore making a “self” imperceptible. My claim is that closure allows individuals to distinguish a “self” through phenomenal experience. This is not dissimilar to the concept of constructing meaning from experience.
Narrative: Although we think of sexual reproduction as inherently cooperative, it is frequently beset with conflicts of interests between the sexes. Conflict surrounds mating and the paternity of offspring: males gain by monopolizing fertilization of a female’s eggs, while females benefit by pursuing matings with other males. I investigate this conflict of the sexes in the decorated cricket, Gryllodes sigillatus; a male of this species is pictured here. My research focuses on how males manipulate females during reproduction via chemical compounds in their ejaculates, which I do by sitting in red-lit dark room and watching crickets have sex. We are not certain of the exact mechanism by which males manipulate females, but we now have reason to believe that male-derived proteins transferred at mating may be responsible. My research aims to determine the role of these proteins in manipulating female behavior and physiology, specifically female sexual receptivity and egg-laying behavior. As the mechanism underlying the female behavioral change has not been established, my work aims to take a novel functional genomics approach to deconstruct the molecular underpinnings at the heart of this sexual conflict in these crickets.
Narrative: I wrote a research paper articulating the prevalence of racism in the LGBTQ community. In my paper, I rhetorically analyzed the black and brown striped pride flag to examine the discourse it has created. Using theories from McGee’s diachronic dimension, Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, and McKerrow’s critique of domination, I summarized that the pride flag has been a branded symbol for the community. The new pride flag was created to disrupt this branded symbol and protest the racism black and brown queer individuals experience. I further discuss the pride flag’s ever-changing ideology, how racist members reinterpret the new flag’s intention, and its implications. Additionally, I presented my research paper at the 2020 Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Asexual College Conference. I discussed my findings and shared narratives of my encounter with racism in the community. Additionally, I confronted oppressors and conducted a discussion. This photo was captured during my presentation. The picture is a symbolic representation of my protest, because I am standing in front of the new pride flag to show my resiliency and pride of being a person of color in the LGBTQ community.
Narrative: This image was taken by a MapIR spectral imaging camera attached to an autonomous UAV 180 feet above a 230-acre farm plot in Mount Sterling, IL. The UAV successfully took off, mapped the acreage, and landed autonomously allowing the surveyor to download the images after the fight for calibration. A color LUT has been applied to the image showing areas of healthy vegetation in green, moderate vegetation in yellow, and low to no vegetation in red and black. Each image details the amount of sunlight absorbed by the surrounding field recording light levels and NIR information before the image is calibrated. This type of photography can determine whether a field is suffering from a lack of sunlight, water, or nitrogen and can also determine insect or fungi damage. This program was launched as an independent study in the summer of 2019 but was later unable to obtain permissions from the Research and Sponsorship's department to further its research. If successful, this program could help diminish over-spraying of pesticides and nitrogen allowing the surrounding environment and ground water to become less polluted and giving farmers hours instead of weeks for faster turnarounds and better overall yields.
First Place: Radiance Campbell "Consent and Intent"
Second Place: Chris Apuzzo "Visualizing a Microscopic Process of Astroglia Cells"
Honorable Mentions: Arianna Garcia "Envisioning the Lawn as Landscape"; Emily Killian "Dystrophin promoter fusion C. elegans"; Emily Swiderski "Female Communicable Disease and Depression Rates Correlational Study"
Peoples' Choice: Radiance Campbell "Consent and Intent"
Narrative: In addition to neurons and other types of glial cells, astroglia are distinct star-shaped cells found in the brain and spinal cord. Astroglia play important roles in degenerative neuropathic pain by producing and consuming certain chemical species that correlate to cell stress. This image is the result of an overlay of a fluorescent-captured microscopic image with a direct image of astroglia cells. The green-colored cells are observed after incubating the astroglia with a specific chemical probe for our chemical of interest - nitric oxide. The more intense the green in each area, the higher the concentration of the nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is an important messenger between the astroglia and surrounding neurons and is proposed to be correlated with relief from pain. Forming this overlay allows us to visualize the localization of this chemical within the astroglia and compare it to astroglia experiencing different environmental conditions. We can then compare the production rate of the nitric oxide and how changing the environment affects this. Finding conditions that increase or decrease production for this molecule is important for the development of therapeutic treatments for people who experience neuropathic pain.
Narrative: This image is one of many taken for “Performing color: Participatory photo and community based research in a modern U.S. circus” to represent the experiences of POC in Gamma Phi Circus. As a black feminist researcher, I am primarily concerned with giving my subjects control over telling their own stories; they become equal partners in the collection, processing, and representation of our data. This particular image is about inclusion. It is about our struggle to be included in white-dominated spaces, where our needs or culture are not easily understood. It’s also about moments of radical inclusion that we wish were more normal, like when a white circus member learns to do our hair in a special style for a show. The intimacy and trust depicted here contrasts heavily with the norm of people gawking or touching without permission. We want to show that it doesn’t have to be “us vs them”— we’ve seen people grow, and we hope others will choose to grow, too. This is the story of people learning, across racial lines, how to treat each other. It’s not always about color— we hold as tightly to our allies as we do to each other.
Narrative: Recently, I’ve been interested in studying Lawn as Landscape and investigating the autonomy we often hand over to it. Our yards take up so much of our energy and resources without their prerogatives being contemplated. We welcome the Lawn with open arms, adorning it with the latest hairstyles; always keeping it hydrated. On the contrary, some of us neglect this terrain, offering it a new, more political dynamic. These personal choices and their multi-layered effects allow us to envision the Lawn as a microcosm of contemporary ecological discourse. By investigating this complex relationship, we'll find that these intricacies can be discovered throughout contemporary society. The Lawn is a verb as much as it's a noun, and whether it's one or the other depends on the Landscaper. I’m aiming to take on the role of Landscaper to open a dialogue that works to reclaim this as a space that isn’t ruled by a binary. By rejecting expectations that have been placed on it, it's able to act as an extension of ‘domestic’ space; a conversation between inside and outside that’s constantly ebbing and flowing. Namely, a blurring of where one place ends and the other begins-- a queer space without boundaries.
Narrative: Porphyrins, commonly known as the pigments of life, give rise to the vivid colors associated with blood and green leaves. They are large aromatic species whose colors result from their electronic properties. Smaller aromatic compounds are usually colorless but azulenes, a two-membered aromatic ring structure, are commonly deep blue or purple. The image shows the unique colors of some azulene derivatives. The azulene crystals (foreground) sparkle and exhibit a dark indigo color, while a solution in dichloromethane (left) has a distinctive purple color. We are investigating the synthesis of porphyrin-like molecules that incorporate azulene rings. An intermediate was prepared by adding two pyrrole rings to form an azulitripyrrane. The middle beaker contains a solution of this intermediate and shows a striking change in color from the original purple to blue. Further reaction with a pyrrole dialdehyde afforded an azuliporphyrin. The Erlenmeyer flask on the far right contains a dilute solution of the azuliporphyrin and this shows a distinctive shift from blue to a deep olive green color. These results demonstrate how the properties of the azulene ring system can be dramatically altered and thereby produce compounds with radically differing coloration.
Narrative: My research in Professor Vidal-Gadea's lab has consisted of studying which versions of the protein dystrophin are present during exercise in the microscopic worm, C. elegans. This image depicts green fluorescence seen when the long version of dystrophin is expressed. To create this image, we injected a small piece of DNA, our fusion product, into a C. elegans. The fusion product consists of a promoter region of the long version of dystrophin connected to green fluorescent protein (GFP) and an unc-54 3’ untranslated region (UTR). The promoter controls where and when the fluorescence is expressed, and the UTR tells the animal to make a lot of fluorescence. So, everything green in the image is where the long version of dystrophin is located. The next step in our research is to inject the same worm with the short isoform dystrophin promoter, which will show up red in the image. With this data, we will be able to compare red to green fluorescence, which will tell us the ratio of short to long dystrophins being expressed.
Narrative: Humanity has been striving to understand the universe for thousands of years. Today, this understanding has taken a leap forward as a new advancement called electron vortex beams are being used to probe deeper into the unknown. These new beams have a unique twisting that leads to potential applications in communications, microscopy, astronomy, and identification of atomic structures. In order to access these applications, a fundamental understanding of these twisted beams, and their interactions with matter, is required. To gain this deeper insight into twisted beam interactions with matter, we calculate the probability of finding an electron emitted from a collision between the twisted beam and a hydrogen atom. This image shows the results of our calculations by 3-D graphically representing the probability of finding the emitted electron at a specific location (top row) for different atomic structures (bottom row). A larger bubble indicates a greater likelihood that the emitted electron will be found there. Our results show the emitted electron probabilities can be used to determine the atomic structure.
Narrative: The prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) has rapidly increased in the United States (US), burdening the public health sector. According to the Centers for Disease Control (2019) STIs prevalence for syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia affected more Americans in 2018 than any other time in history. Chlamydia has increased 19% to 1.8 million cases in 2018. Gonorrhea rates increased by 63% to 583,405 cases in 2018 from 2014. Syphilis infection rates increased to 35,063 new cases of primary and secondary Syphilis (71%) since 2014. Congenital Syphilis incidence rose with 1,306 new cases (185%) since 2014. Research has linked multiple issues with increased STI prevalence, such as: illicit drug use, social determinants, and decreased access to STI screening and prevention resources (CDC, 2019). There is also evidence linking STI with depressive symptoms internationally (Jackson, Seth, DiClemente, & Lin, 2015), but less research focused on females within rural Midwestern settings. This correlational study will test for statistically significant associations between depressive symptoms and STIs in a Central Illinois medically underserved female population. This study hypothesizes females who screen positive for depression may have increased incidence of STIs.
Narrative: This past summer, I gained hands-on research experience with Wren Crew, a lab dedicated to understanding the ecology and behaviors of the House Wren. This small, whimsical bird is common to Illinois; its bubbling and exuberant song has filled the backyards of many with its cheerful melodies. My responsibilities for the lab included: capturing, weighing, banding, and measuring the wings and tails of adult wrens and weighing and banding the nestlings. It is a fascinating feeling, having a wild bird (or handful of nestlings) in the palm of your hand. You feel their rapid heartbeats, their warmth, and the smoothness of their feathers. I couldn't help but be amazed at how breath-taking those birds were. After releasing the adults or gently placing the nestlings back in their nest box, I realized how privileged I was for the opportunity to have that intimate encounter with them. For Summer 2020, I am rejoining the team and will be working on my own personal research project. Spending time with the wrens has opened my eyes to how much more I could learn about them and how blessed I am to have the classroom knowledge to apply to my projects in the field.