Striking Image Competition 2021

Special Theme: Promoting Advanced Imaging Excellence That Is Friendly To Color Blind Scientists



Welcome To The Annual Striking Image Competition

The imaging competition is an exciting opportunity to celebrate excellence in optical microscopy and promote color blind friendly microscopy imaging.

Researchers will have the chance to showcase their research and discoveries by submitting images captured on any optical microscope across the University of Calgary. This year’s competition will be organized by the ACHRI, CMF, HBI-AMP, and Snyder-LCI imaging platforms.

Contest opens on Monday, February 8, at noon

Contest closes on Monday, March 1, at noon

The winners will be announced at the virtual Awards Ceremony that will be held on Thursday, 15, 2021. Those who submit images to the contest will be invited to the virtual Awards Ceremony as well as to the next year’s in-person Awards Ceremony. You will be contacted by email with details.

To submit your image, click the button below, then complete the submission form and upload your image. Notice that if you are not able to answer some questions in the submission form, just write “unknown” as an answer. Also, if you are not sure about the exact month when the image was acquired, select the month option that is most likely the correct one. Only one submission for the whole competition per participant is allowed.”

About this year's special theme

Colour blindness (colour vision deficiency) is usually caused by genetic mutations that lead to missing or malfunctioning retinal cone cells. Red-green colour blindness is the most common type of colour vision deficiency, followed by blue-yellow colour blindness and total colour blindness. There are various forms of colour vision deficiencies, such as deuteranopia and protanopia, which are types of red-green colour blindness.

According to the Colour Blind Awareness organisation, colour blindness affects around 8% of men and 0.5% of women, or around 4.5% of people around the world (Ref. 5).

This means that potentially one out of 12 males and one out of 200 females who read your paper or walk past your poster cannot easily read your figures with certain colour combinations (Ref. 2). Click for an example how a typical fluorescence microscope image looks like to a person with deuteranopia or protanopia (Ref. 8).

There are plenty of open-access resources and tools available that make it easy to convert fluorescence microscopy image colours into more colour blind friendly combinations. The references at the end of this page have more information about colour vision deficiencies and making microscopy images more accessible to colour-blind viewers.

  1. Maximum one entry per person.
  2. Submissions can be made any time between noon on Monday, February 8, and noon on Monday, March 1, 2021.
  3. For this year, all submitted images must fit with the competition theme and be colour blind friendly. The degree of colour blind friendliness is one of the judging criteria. Any other post-processing of the image besides brightness and contrast adjustment must be adequately justified. All post-processing must be described in the submission form, including how the image is accessible to people with colour vision deficiency. For more information on colour blind friendly colouring please review links at end of this document.
  4. Submissions must be made using the online submission form on the Striking Image competition 2020-2021 web page.
  5. Entries must be taken on one of the available optical microscopes within the ACHRI, CMF, HBI-AMP, or Snyder-LCI imaging scientific platforms, or on an optical microscope at the University of Calgary.
  6. The only file formats accepted are .tiff and .tif. The maximum file size limit is 100 MB. Images cannot have any embedded text or other shapes (e.g. arrows, scale bar). Please do not send any raw data images with your image submission. All winners are expected to be able to provide their images in original format before receiving their prizes.
  7. Multiple panel images are accepted if there is a strong scientific rationale.
  8. Image submission implies that you (the submitter) hold the rights to this image in terms of intellectual property and/or have obtained all necessary permissions to do so. Files will be retained by the Striking Image Competition organizers and you give permission to the Striking Image Competition organizers to use your name and the image in connection with the contest. Note: you are not giving up the IP of this image to us, or any other party.
  9. Failure to comply with the rules will lead to disqualification from the competition.
  • Technical excellence (25%): Focus, dynamic range, depth-of-field, contrast, use of light, avoidance of saturation (unless required to bring out dark features). How demanding is it to capture an image like the one submitted? 
  • Artistic merit (25%): Artistic qualities: design (balance, proportion); uniqueness; impact on viewer; use of the following: colour, shape, space; composition (rhythm, patterns); framing
  • Scientific merit (25%): What is novel and/or unique about the image?
  • Colour blind friendliness (25%): How colour blind friendly is the image?

Prizes will be given away as follows. 

  • Each competition category:
    • Gold winner: 4TB hard drive (value $175)
    • Silver winner: 2TB hard drive (value $120)
    • Bronze winner: 1TB hard drive (value $100)
  • Grand prize for the overall winner of the competition (in addition to the category prize): Best of Calgary Foods delivery order (value $100)


  1. ACHRI: Images acquired on an optical microscope in the ACHRI Imaging Lab
  2. AMP: Images acquired on an optical microscope in the Advanced Microscopy Platform
  3. CMF: images acquired on an optical microscope in the Charbonneau Microscopy Facility
  4. LCI: images acquired on an optical microscope in the Live Cell Imaging Laboratory
  5. OPEN: Images acquired on any optical microscope at the University of Calgary

Any questions regarding the Striking Image Competition 2020-2021 should be send to the Competition Coordinator Dr. Anne Vaahtokari (CMF):


We gratefully acknowledge the support from Nikon Canada, Olympus Canada, Quorum Technologies, ThermoFisher, Thorlabs, and Zeiss Canada. This event could not be possible without your generous support!

Striking Image Competition 2019 winners (left to right)

HBI-AMP            Mohamed Hassan, Lytton lab       Mouse brain hippocampus


Mohamed Hassan, Lytton lab

Mouse brain hippocampus



Ana Nikolic, Gallo lab

Glioma cells differentiating into astrocytes

LCI                       Will McLaren, Cobb lab                  Yeast telomere


Will McLaren, Cobb lab

Yeast telomere

Open                  Keith Keane, von der Weid lab     Lymphatic vessel network


Keith Keane, von der Weid lab

Lymphatic vessel network