Category winners “Fish Selfie” (top) and “Plastic Waste” (bottom) at this year’s Image of Research 2015 competition. Images courtesy of Sulayman Mourabit and Andrew Watts respectively.

Life Through a Lens: Images of Research 2015

Post-doctoral researchers, Dr Andrew Watts and Dr Sulayman Mourabit, have been selected as category winners for their respective photographs “Plastic Waste” and “Fish Selfie” in the Image of Research 2015 competition, run by Researchers Development at University of Exeter.

Sulayman Mourabit, an ecotoxicologist from the Centre of Life and Environmental Science (CLES) at the University’s Streatham Campus, won the society and culture category with his stunning photograph of a zebrafish larva. Sulayman works on fish embryonic development, and more specifically on how environmental pollution affects it. Zebrafish are extensively studied worldwide to better understand a broad range of biological wonders. Sulayman says “Unsung heroes of our time, they allow researchers around the world to answer a myriad of questions spanning across various topics, from environmental to medical research. These images provide valuable information on the way fish eggs develop, and how human society influences them along the way”.

Andrew Watts, also from CLES and researching seasonal patterns in plastic distribution around the UK, topped the sustainable futures category with his ironic image of a plastic top off a washing up liquid bottle wedged between two rocks on a North Cornwall beach. Plastic is now a key part of our everyday life. In 2013 alone, 299 million tonnes of plastic were produced and this figure increases year on year. It is estimated that 10 per cent ends up in our seas with an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently in our seas and oceans. Andrew took his winning photo whilst monitoring beach pollution earlier this year. He explained why his image is so important: “I hope this picture will make people think about their impact on our planet and encourage them to help out with beach cleans, dispose or recycle their plastic responsibility and ultimately as a society to reduce our dependence on this type of material”.

The competition was open to Early Career Research Staff from across the various different university departments and submissions ranged from images of a 17th Century manuscript to modern day games and art models. In June, all 26 entries featured in a free exhibition in the University of Exeter’s Forum during Universities Week which aimed to showcase the breadth of research undertaken at the University to more than 1,700 members of the public.

This competition was funded by Researcher Development and was run in partnership with Athena SWAN, Catalyst Project, Library Services and Research and Knowledge Transfer. Sulayman Mourabit and Andrew Watts are funded by the National Environment Research Council and CLEANSEA European Union Framework 7 Project, respectively.

Date: 19 August 2015

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