I was holding the dried out agar plate in my hand, wondering what I was looking at. These beautiful self-organized fractals changed shape in front of my eyes. I could imagine the salt deposits as a starry night, a mysterious garden or white snowflakes.
Agar plates are inseparable parts of microbiology labs. My project mainly focuses on bacteria that can grow without oxygen. I try to understand how they adapt their physiology and metabolism to this condition. To do so, I have to prepare every single element of my experiments – including agar plates – in the absence of oxygen. It is cool and, yes, hard!
In our lab we use about 1,000 plates every month, therefore it is quite common to forget about a plate for so long that it dries completely. Yet, not so many people pay attention to the beautiful patterns on their dried plates before throwing them away. I took this photo from my very first dried out agar plate. Since then, I have been taking photos of my dried plates, each with a different mesmerizing pattern. It is amazing that we can find beauty not only in science per se, but also in our everyday lab works.
The Image of Research is a multidisciplinary competition celebrating the diversity and breadth of graduate student research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Twenty-five semi-finalists have been selected based on their submissions’ originality, visual impact and the connection between image, text and research. Maryam Khademian is one of the semi-finalists.
The Image of Research is organized by the Scholarly Commons of the University Library and the Graduate College and is supported by a generous gift from the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. To see all 25 semi-finalists and for more details about the competition, go to The Image of Research website. Winners of the competition will be announced at a reception on Wednesday, April 6 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in room 104 of the Illini Union.