Institute for Future


10 October 2019

Meet the 2019 QUT Science in Focus Competition top 10 finalists, chosen from a competitive pool of more than 110 images, video, virtual and augmented reality displays.

The Science in Focus Competition has been uncovering the most surprising, beautiful and technically innovative visuals of important QUT research since 2014.

Huntsman Spider's face viewed through a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), a video of a coral polyp hunting and devouring shrimp and microbes which are helping scientists seek signs of past life on Mars are just some of the 2019 finalists.

Salty fibre by Tara Shabab

View the 2019 top 10 finalists

Congratulations to the following finalists (in alphabetical order by first name):

Help decide the people's choice award winner!
Vote for your favourite finalist
 (voting closes 10am, 17 Oct)
NB: click on the image thumbnail or title to view full entry details

Finalist exhibition and award ceremony
Join us for nibbles and drinks in The Cube as we announce first, second and third place, and the people's choice award winner:
WHEN: Friday 18 October, starting at 4.30pm
VENUE: The Cube

Screenshot from the lonely polyp video by Brett Lewis

Science in Focus prize pool:

  • First prize: $1200
  • Second prize: $500
  • Third prize: $250
  • People’s choice award: $250

Entries were judged on visual impact, creativity and originality, technical proficiency and the significance of the research.

2019 judging panel

  • Prof Sagadevan Mundree: Director, QUT Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities (CTCB)
    Prof Mundree leads the CTCB research team who are helping feed the world by developing more resilient and nutrious tropical crops such as bananas, chickpeas, lentils and mungbeans.
  • Dr Ross Brown: Senior Lecturer, QUT School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
    Research interests: immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR).
  • A/Prof Jennifer McLeod: Associate professor in nanotechnology, QUT Science and Engineering Faculty
    Research interests: nanoscience - the self-assembly and reactions of molecules at surfaces, and the growth and modification of graphene and other 2D materials.
  • A/Prof Debra Cushing: Discipline leader, QUT Creative Industries
    Research interests: architecture, Urban and Regional Planning

So what makes a great entry?

This is what some of the previous Science in Focus judges had to say:

Jared Donovan, Senior Lecturer Interaction Design, QUT Creative Industries

“Seek out images that tell a story about your science and provide the viewer with a new perspective or insight. Make use of the elements of composition and design – employing line, shape, colour, texture, form, contrast and space to tell your story with a clarity of purpose and economy of means.”

Kate Haggman, Communication Manager, QUT Science and Engineering Faculty 

“The images I find most striking are those that show me a piece of our world from a new perspective – images like last year's microscopic dental tape and rat bone entries. If you're going to submit microscopic images, make sure to use your time and skill to colour them well. As a science communicator, I'm looking for quality, polished works that have an interesting research backstory worthy of profiling in QUT publications.”

Dr Jamie Riches, Senior Research Officer (Electron Microscopy)

“In my view, a successful entry is one that is aesthetically beautiful and also tells a tale of the importance and impact of the research. The description of the work is very important in putting the work in context and explaining to the audience (and the judges!) why they should care about the entry. Is it that the underlying research is addressing important problems that are relevant to them, or is it rather that capturing the image has required significant technical challenges to be overcome? This is an area where some entries have fallen short in the past, and I would encourage entrants to submit an interesting and informative description that does justice to their image, and explains the value and wonder of their science to the viewer.”

Man Cheung, Artist

“Submit an entry that satisfies your creative or artistic truth. A sure thing for self-disappointment is submitting an image or video only because you think the judges ‘might’ like it.

Read the guidelines thoroughly and ensure your entry fulfils all criteria. This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many entrants don’t do this! Make sure your entry is high quality; is it high resolution enough? Are the images sharp, are they legible and do they have clarity?

Creativity is so subjective, but if you submit something that you are truly proud of and loved creating, win or lose you know you have done the best you can.”

What can be entered?

  • Photography
  • Lighta and electron microscopy
  • Motion graphics
  • Video
  • Digital or hand-drawn illustrations
  • 3D renders
  • X-rays
  • Machine outputs and scans
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality displays
QUT Institute for Future Environments
07 3138 9500
QUT Institute for Future Environments


Institute for Future Environments

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