Photography and Illustrations

First Place: Rainbow of Collagen and Arthritis

Carrie Hui, Dept. of Integrative Pathobiology and Physiology, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences
Averi Leahy, Dept. of Integrative Pathobiology and Physiology, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences
Li Zeng, Ph.D., Dept. of Integrative Pathobiology and Physiology, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences

A Rainbow of Collagen and Arthritis

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Osteoarthritis is a prevalent, burdensome disease caused by joint cartilage degradation and has no cure. A major hurdle in treating osteoarthritis is the lack of understanding of early disease conditions. The image here suggests the change in thickness of collagen, a major component of cartilage, is a key early event. Collagen has unique birefringent properties which, coupled with picrosirius red dye, allows it to show a rainbow of colors under polarized light; multicolor images arise as collagen fibers of different thicknesses display different colors: thick (red/orange), thin (green), and thick/thin mix (lime green-blue). Here the collagen of a normal (left) and arthritic (right) mouse knee is visualized at 10x magnification with the femur (F) and tibia (T) shown. Using this method, collagen becomes visible, and we discovered that the arthritic knee has lost thick and gained thin fibers (shift toward green-blue), which may be a crucial event in early arthritis.

Second Place: Polymer Etching of Single-Crystal Ice

Alexandra Brumberg, Undergraduate Student, ACS-Certified Chemistry, School of Arts and Sciences
Mary Jane Shultz, Professor, Chemistry, School of Arts and Sciences

Ice River

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In the Shultz lab, we grow single-crystal ice and analyze the orientations of various axes of symmetry in an attempt to understand the interfacial energy at the ice-water interface. Once our samples have been grown, the ice is examined under a microscope at 10x magnification while a polymer spread across the surface causes the ice to sublime away. The pits that remain reveal an etch pattern that reflects the geometry of the ice, which then allows us to analyze which face of the ice crystal structure is growing parallel to the surface. We recently submitted a paper that outlined the results of this analysis based off of the results seen from this series of etches. The photo seen here for the first time captured what the division between two domains looks like and reveals a sort of frozen water– that “river” you see– trapped between the two single-crystal domains.

Third Place: Engineered in-vitro silk lung model for studying tuberculosis infection

Aswin Sundarakrishnan, Ph.D. Student, Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering
David Kaplan, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering


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Tuberculosis infection results in the granuloma, a key clinical feature of the disease. The granuloma has been studied extensively with mouse, zebrafish and in-vitro cell culture models. In-vitro models have been the most useful, as they allow the study of granuloma formation with human cells and further enable visualization of early disease process.  Here an in-vitro lung construct is fabricated with biocompatible and slow degrading silk fibroin protein, allowing researchers to conduct in-vitro studies over a period of many months. The silk fibroin protein is isolated from silk cocoons and processed to create porous scaffolds. Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) images in different magnifications show the highly porous construct with interconnected pores, resembling the three-dimensional alveolar structure. Finally, histological evaluation after seeding with human alveolar epithelial cells (A549) proves the high degree of similarity of the seeded constructs compared to the distal lung tissue. The visualization was assembled in PowerPoint.