Email Print Share

News Release 10-028

2009 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge Winners Announced

Winning entries appear in the Feb. 19 issue of Science

Art installation illustrating endothelial cells.

"Branching Morphogenesis" illustrates the forces lung cells exert as they form capillaries

February 18, 2010

View the 2009 winners and the first place winner of non-interactive media.

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) along with the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), today announced the winners of their seventh annual International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

The winning entries include extraordinary photographs, illustrations, videos and graphics that reveal intricate details of life and the world around us--down to the smallest scale. The winning visualizations range from a video that uses found objects to explain the epigenetics of identical twins, to an electron microscope photograph that catches self-assembling polymers in action as they grip a green orb, offering a powerful message about cooperative efforts to save the Earth.

One of two first-place winners in the illustrations category is a 3.5-meter-tall, three-dimensional art installation, one of several projects by biologist Peter Lloyd Jones and architect Jenny E. Sabin of the University of Pennsylvania's Sabin + Jones LabStudio that depict large, complex data sets in new ways. Called "Branching Morphogenesis," the work is an illustration of the forces lung cells exert as they form capillaries. It aims to reveal--through abstraction--the unseen beauty and dynamic relationships that exist between endothelial cells and their surrounding extracellular microenvironment.

"Sometimes graphing data won't tell you about its intricacies," Jones says. "This makes the whole process exciting and interactive." The installation is featured on the cover of the Feb. 19 issue of Science.

Illustrators, photographers, computer programmers and graphics specialists from around the world were invited to submit visualizations that would intrigue, explain and educate. This year, there were 130 entries from 14 countries.

The winning entries communicate information about mathematical theory with a rendering of Kuen's surface; use interactive media to teach high school students about the intricate cycles and pathways that keep the cell alive by generating and burning energy; use video to show how dollar bills can be used to build a complete picture of how people move from place to place in the United States; and more. The Feb. 19 issue of Science features the winning entries, which will also be freely available with registration, at and the NSF's Web site at

The 2009 winning entries appear below in the following five categories:


First Place

Sung Hoon Kang, Joanna Aizenberg, and Boaz Pokroy, Harvard University
Save Our Earth. Let's Go Green

Honorable Mentions

Michael P. Zach, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Microbe vs. Mineral - A Life and Death Struggle in the Desert

Russell Taylor, Briana K. Whitaker, and Briana L. Carstens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Flower Power

Dr. Heiti Paves and Birger Ilau, Tallinn University of Technology


First Place (tie)

Richard Palais and Luc Benard, University of California at Irvin
Kuen's Surface: A Meditation on Euclid, Lobachevsky, and Quantum Fields.

Peter Lloyd Jones, Andrew Lucia, and Jenny E. Sabin, University of Pennsylvania's Sabin + Jones Lab Studio
Branching Morphogenesis

Honorable Mentions

David Beck, Clarkson University and Jennifer Jacquet, University of British Columbia
Jellyfish Burger

Mario De Stefano, Antonia Auletta, and Carla Langella, The 2nd University of Naples
Back to the Future


First Place

Dwayne Godwin, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Jorge Cham,
Brain Development

Honorable Mention

Erin Olson, Daphne Orlando and Tim Manning, R&D Systems, Inc.
Regulation of the Cell Cycle & DNA Damage-Induced Checkpoint Activation


First Place

Jeremy Friedberg and Andrea Bielecki, Spongelab Interactive
Genomics Digital Lab: Cell Biology


First Place (tie)

Genetic Science Learning Center, University of Utah - Harmony Starr, Molly Malone and Brendan Nicholson
The Epigenetics of Identical Twins

Christian Thiemann and Daniel Grady, Northwestern University
Follow the Money: Human Mobility and Effective Communities

Honorable Mentions

Gregor Hochleitner, Christian Gredel and Nils Sparwasser, German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Decision Support System for Tsunami Early Warning

Stacy Jannis, William Dempsey, and Rebekah Fredenburg, Jannis Productions
Inside the Brain: Unraveling the Mystery of Alzheimer's Disease


Media Contacts
Maria C. Zacharias, NSF, (703) 292-8454, email:
Natasha Pinol, American Association for the Advancement of Science, (202) 326-7088, email:

Program Contacts
Susan M. Mason, NSF, (703) 292-7748, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Connect with us online
NSF website:
NSF News:
For News Media:
Awards database:

Follow us on social