Masters of MicroscopyMasters of Microscopy

Dr. Eduardo E. Zattara on Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics

Welcome to Masters of Microscopy: The People Behind the Lens, where we showcase and celebrate the individuals who are the heart of the Nikon Small World competitions. They are scientists, artists, researchers, educators, and everyday curious individuals who uncover the fascinating microscopic world around us.

Dr. Eduardo E. Zattara

From a young age, Dr. Eduardo E. Zattara has been passionate about the natural world and has had a spirit of discovery for the hidden structures of life. His interests would lead him to earn a Ph.D. in Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and continue his work as a researcher for the National Scientific and Technical Research Council in Argentina.

“While I have loved microscopy since I was a kid, it was not until I started my Ph.D. in 2006 that I had unrestricted access to microscope equipment with a camera. Since then, I have been imaging work-related samples and many other creatures I've found,” said Zattara.

Placing first in this year’s Nikon Small World in Motion Competition, Zattara’s video of lateral line cells and melanocytes migrating in a zebrafish embryo gave audiences a glimpse into the biological processes of a developing vertebrate. To film the embryo, Zattara used fluorescence and eight hours of time-lapse imaging to highlight various cell functions.

"This recording came out very clean and required almost no post-processing. It is an astonishing display of the dynamics of cell migration during development,” said Zattara. “The result was a video that was both biologically informative and visually striking. It was by far my favorite microscopy video to render."

Zatara's 2022 Small World in Motion winning video of lateral line cells and melanocytes migrating in a zebrafish embryo

The winning video shows melanin-forming cells known as melanocytes (colored in orange) moving below the zebrafish’s skin to reach their final positions. While in green, sensory organ progenitors migrate along the lateral line of the zebrafish embryo.

In addition to providing an extraordinary view of zebrafish development, Zattara’s winning video also has personal significance. “I shot this particular set of images ten years ago, during the Embryology course at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), a transformative experience for me at the time,” said Zattara.

Zattara preparing a sample under a dissecting microscope

He went on to say, “When I read that judging for this year’s contest would take place at the MBL – where the image was shot and where I first learned about Nikon Small World – I knew this was the time to submit this rendering to the competition.”

One might say, it’s a small world indeed!

Today, Zattara focuses his time on genomic and environmental conservation work between scientists and interested members of the public in citizen science projects. Specifically, he researches the decline in the abundance and diversity of wild bee species worldwide.

“We’ve brought a lot of attention to environmental issues surrounding the conservation of species, especially wild bees. The message always comes back to nature and how as human beings, we have a lot of work to do,” said Zattara.

You can find one of his recent studies here.

Zattara holding a tube with a giant Patagonian bumblebee for genome sequencing

In the future, he hopes to continue sharing the small worlds he discovers with new audiences. “I have accrued many microscope images, some of them quite beautiful, and I feel that competitions such as Nikon Small World are a superb venue to show new perspectives to a wider audience. I am thrilled to think that my work could be a source of inspiration and encouragement to others and further promote SciArt.”

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