Academics & Research

Immunology, Inflammation, & Infectious Disease (3i) Initiative

Annual Symposium Art Contest

Below are the 2021 Symposium Art Contest Entries. Follow this link to vote for your favorite overall art submission! 


Winning Submissions

Science as Art
1st - Constellations; Stellar Memories by Tuna Tunon-Ortiz, 


2nd - The Organ of Sound in Color by Shubham Kale,


3rd - Egg by Lisa Gibbs.

Art as Science
1st - Braided Helix by Megan Okada (Note that this was also the popular vote winner)


2nd -  First thought, WTF is that? Second thought, Really, WTF IS THAT! by Bryan Welm, 

3rd - Bifröst by Matthew Mulvey



Art of Science Submissions

Entry 1 - 

“Humane Science”

O’Connell lab Halloween costume of single cell RNA sequencing of immune cells with R-cula analyzing the data.

entry 1

Entry 2 - (click still to view video)


It’s a 3D video of Sars-Cov-2 bursting with the poke of a vaccination needle, which is the theme of the year 2021

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Entry 3 - 

“Don’t Quit”

a watercolor illustration of a project that served as the beginning of my journey to never give up.

Picture 3

 Entry 4 - 

”Cake’s Anatomy”

Every year for Valentine’s day I bake a cake in the shape of a different organ or cell type. Here I have examples of lungs, an eosinophil, an eye, brain, stomach, and intestines

picture 4

Entry 5 - 

Starry Night under the EM

Cdc48 is a hexameric AAA+ ATPase that uses the power of ATP hydrolysis to unfold ubiquitinated substrates. Under the electron microscope, the top views of this protein are absolutely stunning. Sometimes when I look at samples under the EM its almost like looking at a starry night.

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Entry 6 - 


In Norse mythology, Bifröst is the burning rainbow bridge that connects Asgard to other realms in the universe. Looking a bit like Bifröst, this image shows light diffracted into a rainbow of colors by strands of silk spun by a funnel weaver spider. Each strand of spider silk is only about 2-3 times the width of the wavelength of visible light, and can create some neat diffraction patterns

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Entry 7 - 

Lava Flows

Acrylic on Canvas

Picture 7

Entry 8 - 

Soft Cell

pillow made as a wedding present for post-doc/colleague/friend who studies peroxisomes and mitochondria

picture 8

Entry 9 - 

Minding the Brain

picture 9

Entry 10 - 

First thought, WTF is that? Second thought, Really, WTF IS THAT!

T4 Bacteriophage in steel, bronze and copper

picture 10

Entry 11 - 


Acrylic on Canvas

In this piece, the artist imagines a gene expression heat map from the individual cells of the brain overlayed with a representation of a colorful TNSE clustering algorithm grouping the regions of the brain, reminiscent of the data flow from a single-cell sequencing experiment

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 Entry 12 - 

Investigator's Caduceus

Historians believe the Rod of Asclepius is the more accurate symbol of medicine. Caduceus, the winged staff with two intertwined snakes is wielded by Hermes, the Greek messenger god. To represent the long history of science and ‘translating’ findings from bench to bedside, one of Darwin’s finches holds Mendel’s pea plant while two snakes represent strands of DNA wrapped around a pipette ‘staff’. Born from the garden of basic science… the Investigator’s Caduceuspicture 12

Entry 13 - 

Golden Spike

The golden spike joined the eastern and western United States via the first transcontinental railroad in Promontory, Utah. In a similar way, COVID-19 vaccines, targeted against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, are an essential means for us to move from our current pandemic to our post-pandemic lives. Along the rail, traveling away from the setting coronavirus sun, we see the collaboration between science and medicine symbolized by the silhouettes of the scientist and clinician. Front and center, the rail melts into a single mRNA strand translated by the ribosome to generate the modern-day “golden spike”.

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Entry 14 - 

Braided Helix

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Entry 15 - 

Intercellular neuronal communication goes viral

Arc protein can form virus-like capsids that contain RNA, which are released from neurons.

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Entry 16 - 


1000+ Photo collage memories of my graduate career. The red-accented photos shape the hippocampus—the brain region responsible for forming memories, which in turn stores the memories that are preserved in the photographs.

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Entry 17 - 

The You of You

Mixed Media on canvas (38x54”)

Oil, acrylic, charcoal, and ink. The graduate school experience in Utah depends on the anatomy of major developing neurosensory epithelia: the gatekeepers responsible for human experience. They are depicted upon backdrop of the natural beauty of the mountains lying atop a base layer of statistical calculations, all of which are part of the graduate school experience.


Entry 18 - 

COLONial Life

COLONial Life is an Écorché piece of the human colon. It demonstrates how nutrient breakdown is a natural process of the colon. Colonization with microbes, referred to as the Microbiota,  is important for interstinal health and is depticted in the cut out. COLONial life was created with modeling clay wrapped around plastic tubing. Acrylic paint and an airbrush kit were used for shading and texture. Colored modeling clay was used to represent mucus, fecal material, and the microbiota. This work was inspired by my own personal and academic fascination with the complexity and inter-dependentness of life, here on earth.

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Entry 19 - 

The Helixer of Life

A 3D depiction of the building blocks of life, within a tree like structure, the thing that provides us life.

picture 18


Science of Art Submissions

Entry 1 - 

“Malaria Thrombocytopenia arises from Megakaryocyte Precursor Cells in the Bone Marrow and not Peripheral Platelet”

A child dies of malaria every two minutes. Thrombocytopenia is one of the main and most common complications associated with malaria. The mechanism of thrombocytopenia in malaria disease is still very elusive. This work of art is to recapitulate the mechanism of thrombocytopenia in humans using a mouse malaria model. Thrombocytopenia has been mostly associated with peripheral platelet consumption by the malaria parasite rather than platelet production problems from the megakaryocytes and their progenitor cells in the bone marrow. In this work of art, we are demonstrating that malaria-related thrombocytopenia is due to a production problem of platelets from the megakaryocytes in the bone marrow rather than platelet consumption in the peripheral tissues


Entry 2 - 


The immunofluorescence staining figure shows the distribution of the blood (red) and lymphatic (green) vessel development and distribution in young (p2) mice.


Entry 3 - 

Highways and Byways of a Lymph Node


Entry 4 - 

The Body is a Window to your Soul


Entry 5 - 

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the moon is a manipulated microscopy image of mouse macrophages  co-incubated with Candida albicans (yeast). In the orgianl image yeast cells can be seen within the macrophages following phagocytosis. The color and contrast manipulation obscures the yeast cells leaving the outline of the macrophages appearing as craters on the moon


Entry 6 - 

The organ of sound in color

A fluorescent wholemount maximum intensity projection of the auditory senory organ: the cochlea, labeled with antibodies to identify different subsets of supporting cells


Entry 7 - 

Danger Signals

Intestinal tissue from a patient with inactive ulcerative colitis stained for the extracellular matrix polysaccharide hyaluronan (HA, green), HA-crosslinking enzyme TSG-6 (red), and nuclei (blue)


Entry 8 - 


Image shows biofilms formed by a strain of wildtype Extraintestinal Pathogenic Escherichia coli and mutant derivatives. The biofilms took 14 days to develop and each is close to 3 cm in diameter


Entry 9 - 

Drops of Data

This retouched miRNA sequencing heat map is overlaid with a histological image of brown adipose tissue. We do data synthesis all the time, so this is a play on bringing data together to come up with something new


Entry 10 - 

Parasitic Blues (and Green)

Flourescent microscopy images of Plasmodium falciparum with

stained nucleus (blue) and apicoplast (green). 


Entry 11 - 


This image was taken using two photon microscopy and no staining of a liver from a mouse chrononically infected with Schistosoma mansoni. The copper color is collagen and structural elements taken by using the second harmonic generation, and is forming a granuloma around a Schistosoma egg, depicted in white. The egg was imaged using autoflourecence


Entry 12 - 

Cells or Solar Systems?

No, you’re not seeing stars! Or planets for that matter. These are mouse bone marrow cells, ordered roughly by level of maturity along their differentiation pathway from hematopoietic stem cells to megakaryocytes. 


Entry 13 - 

Round Cell in a Square Hole

Fibroblast cell on 50umX50um micropatterned island was stained for vinculin (magenta), F-actin (red), HspB1 (green) and DNA (Blue).


Entry 14 -

Catch and Release

This is an image of stimulated Neutrophils stained for nuclei, neutrophil elastase (red), CD66B (yellow; a neutrophil marker), and Histone 2B (green). Taken on a Leica SP8 at 20x magnification


Entry 15 - 

(Cell) Fate

The image shows the development of B cells in the germinal center by overlaying RNA velocity on different progenitor, transition, and terminal B cell subpopulations as these cells differentiate into memory and plasma cells. By utilzing splicing information, the developmental trajectory of a cell can be calculated and mapped to show the patterns of transcription that underly immune memory.


Entry 16 - 

Joy Amidst the Blues

Sparks of joy (pink T cells) are beneficial and help combat inflammation amidst the sea of blues (Intestinal cells) in this mouse model of obesity.


Entry 17 - 

Tangled Up in Blue: Tumors, crypts, bacteria, oh my!


Entry 18 - (click still to see video)


The Greek titan Atlas was condemned to forever hold the heavens. Side-by-side, two newly discovered neurons reach up and appear to hold the retina. These new neurons may play a role in providing us smooth, noise-free vision 


Entry 19 - 

A Stitch of Science

A “western” quilt of a starry night, a gut slice, tumorous tissue, an animal map, a lucky organoid, cell fates, a heated exploration of vesicle miRNAs, a venn-flowergram and a SLC skyscape of mechanism.


Entry 20 - 

Cochlear Spiral

Lipophilic dye tracing in from the ventral cochlear nucleus of the mouse brainstem labels spiral ganglion neurons in the peripheral hearing organ known as the cochlea. The beautiful structure of this complex organ is what allows us to hear music and the voice of our loved ones


Entry 21 -

Constellations; Stellar Memories

20x Confocal image of interneurons in hippocampus