“Jaw-Dropping” Image of Open-Mouthed Rotifer wins 40th Anniversary Nikon Small World Competition

Nikon Instruments, Inc. is pleased to reveal the winners of the 40th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition, awarding first prize to veteran competitor Rogelio Moreno of Panama for capturing a rarely seen image of a rotifer’s open mouth interior and heart-shaped corona. A computer system programmer by occupation, Moreno is a self-taught microscopist whose photomicrograph serves to show just how close the beauty and wonder of the micro-world truly is - not just for scientists, but anyone willing to open their eyes and look for it.

Moreno is recognized along with over 80 other winners from around the world for excellence in photomicrography. Winners from Italy, the United States, Austria, Spain and Australia also ranked in the top ten, for exceptional images selected based on both artistic quality and masterful scientific technique.

“Since the competition began 40 years ago, the caliber in quality and range of subject matter of the images, is matched only by the scientists and photographers who submit them,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager, Nikon Instruments. “So much has changed in science and technology in the past forty years, opening the door for more and more scientists and artists alike to capture and share their stunning images with the world. A look at our gallery is like a time capsule of the advancements made in the last four decades and truly shows the legacy a Nikon Small World continues to build.”

While the top images cover a variety of subject matter, each one exhibits the exemplary technique, scientific discipline and artistry for which Nikon Small World is known.

Rogelio Moreno is a first-time first-place winner of the Small World competition, though he has placed each time he has entered the contest starting three years ago. That success is a testament to his incredible skill, as he only began taking photomicrographs in 2009.

Judges awarded Moreno’s shot of a rotifer caught open-mouthed and facing the camera – for its exemplary technique. Capturing the perfect moment when the rotifer opened its mouth for the camera required extreme patience from Moreno, who watched for hours waiting for his opportunity. With the rotifer in constant motion, he utilized the flash to freeze the movement as soon as the mouth opened – still leaving him with only a one- or two-second window to take the photo, and possibly only one shot to get it right. He also used differential interference contrast (DIC) to enhance the coloration in unstained, transparent samples, and to provide a more detailed image of the rotifer.

“When you see that movement, you fall in love. I thought - wow, that is amazing. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. This is something very, very beautiful,” said Moreno of his winning image. “I hope now it can inspire others as much as it has inspired me – to learn about science, to look closely and notice something truly amazing.”

As the 2014 winner, Moreno joins the ranks of 36 other photomicrographers, artists and scientists from all over the world who have taken the top prize. This year’s competition received nearly 2,000 entries from more than 79 countries around the world.

Top Five Images:

1. Mr. Rogelio Moreno, Rotifer showing the mouth interior and heart shaped corona

2. Mr. Alessandro Da Mommio, Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Pisa, Rhombohedral cleavage in calcite crystal

3. Noah Fram-Schwartz, Jumping Spider Eyes

4. Ms. Karin Panser, Institute of Molecular Pathology I.M.P., Caterpillar proleg with circle of gripping hooks in red

5. Dr. Muthugapatti K. Kandasamy, Biomedical Microscopy Core, University of Georgia, Bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells stained for actin (pink), mitochondria (green) and DNA (yellow)

The exceptional panel of judges who select the winning images has a tradition of including some of the most distinguished names working in the scientific community and science journalism today. For the 40th anniversary, the team selected with determining the 2014 Nikon Small World winning images includes:

• Dr. Paul Maddox, Assistant Professor and William Burwell Harrison Fellow, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Principal Investigator, Mitotic Mechanisms and Chromosome Dynamics research unit, IRIC

• Laura Helmuth, Science Editor, Slate

• Dave Mosher, Online Director, Popular Science

• Michael W. Davidson, Director of the Optical and Magneto-Optical Imaging Center at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University

To commemorate the 40th Anniversary, Nikon hosted an exclusive event at The New York Academy of Sciences on Wednesday, October 29th. The 2014 winning images were first unveiled to those in attendance, including Moreno.

Top images from the 2014 Nikon Small World Competition will be exhibited in a full-color calendar and through a national museum tour.