Nikon Announces Judging Panel for the 47th Annual Nikon Small World Competition

Five expert judges will evaluate entries from around the world to select this year’s winning microscopy images and movies.

Nikon Instruments Inc. today announced the judging panel for the 2021 annual Nikon Small World photomicrography and Small World in Motion video competitions.

Nsikan Akpan, Ph.D., Health and Science Editor at New York Public Radio, Hank Green, Best-Selling Author, YouTube Creator, and Science Communicator, Robin Kazmier, Science Editor at PBS NOVA, Alexa Mattheyses, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and Hesper Rego, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis at the Yale School of Medicine will review and select the 2021 winning images and videos.

“This year’s diversity of talents will be crucial in helping us select the best that scientific microscopy imaging has to offer. We look forward to seeing the beautiful imagery from this year’s entrants that will no doubt reveal exciting artistry and new aspects of our unseen world,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager at Nikon Instruments.

The Nikon Small World competition is widely regarded as the leading forum to honor visual excellency in video and photomicrography. Each year the competition celebrates the top 20 photography winners and top 5 video winners, in addition to awarding Honorable Mentions and Images of Distinction. Winning submissions will be recognized for their mastery of capturing original and visually impactful imagery in the scientific field. The competition strives to give the public a glimpse into the unseen world that can only be observed through a microscope lens.

Get to know this year’s panel a little better:

Dr. Nsikan Akpan, Health and Science Editor at New York Public Radio:
Akpan works for WNYC/Gothamist, where he runs the newsroom’s health and science desk. Nsikan was previously at National Geographic where he worked as a science editor, overseeing its COVID-19 coverage in addition to other topics in science, health and technology. Before National Geographic, he worked for more than four years at PBS NewsHour, where he co-created an award-winning video series named ScienceScope. He shared a 2020 Emmy for the PBS NewsHour series “Stopping a Killer Pandemic” and in 2019 received a George Foster Peabody Award for the PBS NewsHour series “The Plastic Problem.” Nsikan has also worked for NPR, Science News Magazine, Science Magazine, KUSP Central Coast Public Radio, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, and as a writer at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University. He holds a doctorate in pathobiology from Columbia University and is an alum of the science communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Hank Green, Science Fiction Author and Internet Creator:
Green is a science communicator, video creator, entrepreneur, and CEO of Complexly, a production company that creates educational content. His YouTube channels (with shows including Crash Course, SciShow, and Journey to the Microcosmos) have more than 20 million subscribers. He is also a New York Times bestselling author and has interviewed the likes of President Obama and Bill Gates. He excels at explaining complex topics in a relatable way, prompting The Washington Post to name him "one of America's most popular science teachers."

Robin Kazmier, Science Editor at PBS NOVA:
Kazmier works across NOVA’s broadcast and digital platforms to ensure that the series' content is scientifically accurate and journalistically sound. She also edits the digital publication NOVA Next. Kazmier worked in Costa Rica as a field guide editor and then a wildlife columnist for The Tico Times before pursuing a master’s in science writing at MIT. She is the author of the photography book National Parks of Costa Rica.

Dr. Alexa Mattheyses, Associate Professor of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham:
Mattheyses earned her Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Michigan in the laboratory of Daniel Axelrod where she helped develop new microscopy approaches. She conducted postdoctoral research at the Institut Pasteur and Rockefeller University where she applied fluorescence microscopy to cell biology. Mattheyses then joined the faculty of Emory University where she became Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and co-Director of the Integrated Cellular Imaging microscopy core facility. Mattheyses moved her research program to the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she is currently Associate Professor of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology and Director of the High-Resolution Imaging Facility. Her research aims to apply optical microscopy techniques to better understand cellular communication and provide insight into the cellular basis for human health and disease. Dr. Mattheyses is also faculty in the analytical and quantitative light microscopy course (AQLM) at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, MA.

Dr. Hesper Rego, Assistant Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis at the Yale School of Medicine:
Rego trained as a physicist in both her undergraduate and graduate studies. She did her graduate work with the late Mats Gustafsson at UCSF and Janelia Farm. In his group, she developed a nonlinear form of Structured-Illumination Microscopy. Afterwards, wanting to explore a biological phenomenon, Dr. Rego did her postdoctoral work with Eric Rubin at the Harvard School of Public Health where she became fascinated by the ability of genetically identical organisms to display different phenotypes. This phenomenon is especially important for the treatment of certain infectious diseases like tuberculosis. Dr. Rego currently leads a research group at the intersection of these two areas, the application of advanced light microscopy techniques to investigate the strategies pathogens use to survive the stresses imposed by antibiotics and the host.

For more information on this year's judges, visit the new 'Meet the Judges' section of the Nikon Small World website.

The Nikon Small World in Motion video winners will be announced in August, and winners of the Small World photomicrography competition will be released in September.

For additional information, please follow the competition on Facebook, Twitter (@NikonSmallWorld) and Instagram (@nikoninstruments).

About Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition
The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition is open to anyone with an interest in photography or video through the microscope. Participants may get details and upload digital images and videos directly at For additional information, contact Nikon Small World, Nikon Instruments Inc., 1300 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, NY 11747, USA, or email us at

About Nikon Instruments Inc.
Nikon Instruments Inc. is the US microscopy arm of Nikon Healthcare, a world leader in the development and manufacture of optical and digital imaging technology for biomedical applications. For more information, visit or contact us at 1-800-52-NIKON.