Science Visualized 2013: Beautiful Images from College Research

Posted on in College & Campus

This past Spring, we asked members of the College of Natural Sciences community to provide us with images that celebrated the extraordinary beauty of science and the scientific process.

Science has always been partly a visual pursuit, as researchers visually communicate their discoveries and explore the topics they hold near and dear. Haeckel created beautiful color illustrations of organisms, Darwin drew evolutionary trees, and da Vinci sketched anatomy, just to name a few.

Now more than ever, science visualizations are part of the discovery process itself, as researchers use 3-D models and data visualizations to uncover patterns in data and reveal the inner workings of life and the universe.

Below, we feature 10 of the most stunning submissions from our faculty, staff and students. 

atmospheric turbulence

Atmospheric turbulence, shown as glass in this model, distorts and limits the resolution of large, ground-based telescopes. Next-gen telescopes, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope, will remove such distortions by computing corrections and changing the shape of the telescope mirror in real-time. Credit: Dr. John Kuehne

diploria strigosa

A young brain coral Diploria strigosa (green) that has recently formed a symbiosis with a Symbiodinium dynoflagellate (in red). This coral is found in the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Marie Strader

continuous wavlet

Continuous wavelet transform of the heart rate of exercising subject, showing its multifractal structure. Credit: Dr. Kathy Davis

arabidopsis mutant trichomes

Plant epidermal cells taken with a scanning electron microscope (color added during photo processing). The cells are from the Freshman Research Initiative stream Epidermal Cell Fates and Pathways, and were generated by a former undergraduate student, Tyler Smith, and Dr. Tony Gonzalez. Credit: Tony Gonzalez

micron-scale 3D printing

A microscopic 3-D object fabricated from the protein albumin. The star portion of the structure is 15 µm from tip to tip, which is just a touch larger than a human red blood cell. The ability to fabricate structures of this complexity from natural materials is useful for studying quorum sensing and drug resistance in bacteria populations and has potential applications in cancer research, and tissue engineering. Credit: Eric Spivey

mouse embryonic skeletal preparation

A mouse embryonic skeleton, with bone stained Alizarin Red and cartilage stained Alcian Blue. Credit: Jacqueline Norrie, graduate student

universe 200 million years after big bang

The state of the Universe roughly 200 million years after the Big Bang (13.6 billion years ago), a relatively short cosmic timescale. The orange/red bubbles are regions of hot gas that the first stars created when they ignited. The green streaks are cold cosmic gas that has begun to collapse into dark matter but has not yet formed stars. The structure in the center is destined to become one of the first galaxies with the next hundred million years or so. Credit: Chalence Safranek-Shrader, graduate student

protein rna

Protein Mss116p DEAD-box helicase domain 2 bound to an RNA duplex. Credit: Dr. Arthur F. Monzingo


A multi-resolution zoom into the ribosome, which synthesizes proteins on demand in almost all cells. Credit: Dr. Chandra Bajaj


Visualization of free volume, or negative space, in a glassforming polymer. Free volume properties determine how advanced materials assemble and function. Credit: Dr. Frank Willmore

Many of these images also appear in the college's 2013 Strategic Plan, Discovery Starts Here

Lee H Clippard

Lee is the Director of Communications for the college. He holds a B.S. in Biology from UT and an M.S. in Entomology from UW-Madison. He lives in East Austin with his partner, their dog, and a garden full of plants and bugs.


  • Guest
    Edna Brinkley, PhD Wednesday, September 04, 2013

    For the image, "Continuous wavelet transform of the heart rate of exercising subject, showing its multifractal structure", the credit should read "Dr. Kathy Davis"-apparently her correct title was left out.

  • Guest
    Fifile Nguyen Wednesday, September 04, 2013

    So cool! I'm proud to be an alumna. Thanks for sharing.

  • Guest
    Nancy Phillips Wednesday, September 04, 2013

    Gorgeous and inspiring. Thank you!

  • Guest
    Edwin L. Young, PhD Wednesday, September 04, 2013

    The progression of science and technology since 300+years ago is nothing short of miraculous. Where does it go from today? From today into 1000 years, 10,000, 1 million years into the future.

  • Guest
    Lawrence Crary Wednesday, September 04, 2013

    Truly "something-more from nothing-but"! Our world/universe is awe inspiring.

  • Guest
    Cindy Orchard Thursday, September 05, 2013

    Interesting pictures, but I believe only one indicates how the picture is useful. The meat of Data Visualization is the insight it delivers, not the art.

  • Guest
    Tim Meehan Thursday, September 05, 2013


  • Guest
    Patricia Z. Quiz Monday, September 23, 2013

    Thanks for sharing where art and science meet in today's world.

  • Guest
    K.M. Clark Friday, October 04, 2013

    Fantastic! Thank sharing on FB immediately!
    Science and the art of photography join!

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