Biochemistry Optical Core director earns photomicrography distinction

Photo of Elle Kielar-Grevstad
Elle Kielar-Grevstad, the director of the Biochemistry Optical Core.

The Director of the Biochemistry Optical Core, Elle Kielar-Grevstad, has earned an “Image of Distinction” award in Nikon’s 2018 Photomicrography Competition. The contest received more than 2,500 entries from 89 countries, with only the top 95 images receiving a distinction.

The root of a buttercup flower might look ordinary enough, but under a light microscope Kielar-Grevstad captured the beauty and complexity of the cells that are responsible for transporting the plant’s water and food.

Brilliant colors and honeycomb structure of the root of a buttercup flower image.
The image Elle Kielar-Grevstad, Director of the Biochemistry Optical Core, entered in Nikon’s Small World Competition. It is an image of the root of a buttercup flower. It shows the cells that transport the plant’s water and food, called xylem and phloem, respectively.

“It’s an honor to have my image chosen to be within the top 4% of entries in this well-regarded international competition,” she says. “It’s great to have my work and the facilities highlighted in such a unique way. I see microscopy as one of the intersections within science that can be leveraged to build bridges across disciplines and engage a community. In particular, photomicrographs not only give researchers from the most applied to the most basic scientific disciplines a way to understand spatial relationships, but they also facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation of our work to communities outside the university.”

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Biochemistry houses several core facilities, such as the Biophysics Instrumentation Facility (BIF) and Biochemistry Optical Core (BOC). Kielar-Grevstad used the confocal microscope within the BOC to capture the award-winning image. The facilities are a campus resource and are open to all UW–Madison researchers.

“One of the reasons our core facilities were developed was to build these interdisciplinary connections by giving everyone easy access to high-end instrumentation and the technical expertise to use that instrumentation effectively,” she adds. “This allows anyone— students, postdocs, faculty, research staff, community members — the opportunity to walk into our offices, talk about research, and get the help they need to push their innovative work forward.”

The distinction is part of Nikon’s Small World Competition, which includes the Photomicrography Competition with Kielar-Grevstad’s image, as well as the Small World in Motion Competition. In the motion competition, Henry He, a researcher at the Morgridge Institute for Research, and Liz Haynes, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, won first place for a video depicting neural development in a zebrafish embryo.