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Undergraduate student submissions sweep Art of Science awards

Computer science student Qingjian Shi ‘26 won the People's Choice Award at this year's Art of Science competition for Robot’s Expression of Individuality.

The annual competition highlights the intersection of science, art, and technology as part of the Rochester experience.

University of Rochester students, faculty, and staff showcased the beauty of everything from camouflaged spiders to jets of high velocity plasma at the 13th annual Art of Science Competition.

More than 60 Rochester community members submitted entries to explore and illuminate the aesthetic beauty that results when science, art, and technology intersect.

Held each spring and sponsored by the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences in collaboration with River Campus Libraries, the competition offers student prizes of $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $250 for third place. All entries were eligible for the People’s Choice Award of $250, with this year’s winner receiving 563 votes. Undergraduate students’ submissions swept all of the categories, including honorable mentions.

“This competition is all about taking science and engineering concepts that may be very hard to understand and turning them into something that really draws you to want to learn more,” says Wendi Heinzelman, dean of the Hajim School. “Congratulations to our winners and thank you to everyone who submitted an entry or voted. Special thanks to the Art of Science Committee for organizing this year’s competition, and to our panel of judges.”

First Place

orb with orange and yellow swirls

Fateema Islam ’24, a biochemistry student, won first place for Ochre Complex. Islam used a camera phone to capture an image of a ferrous material sample as it was going through a rotovap, or rotary evaporator device. Upon receiving the award, she said, “I think this piece really shows that if you take a step back from scientific work, we can really notice that there’s really intense beauty around us.”

Second Place

red cerebrospinal fluid flowing through a vein-like vessel.

Second place was awarded to biomedical engineering student Antonio Ladron de Guevara Ruiz ’24 for Cerebrospinal fluid flows through wide perivascular spaces into the brain. His submission featured superimposed particle tracks illustrating the entry of cerebrospinal fluid into the brain through periarterial spaces.

Third Place

drawing of person's head topped with a cage as blue and yellow birds fly out.

Glen Zhang ’25, a neuroscience student, won third place for Death before Death. The submission is an artistic representation of Alzheimer’s disease inspired by Zhang’s grandfather’s battle with the neurodegenerative brain disorder before his death.

People’s Choice Award

impressionism-style image of a robot painting at an easel.

This year’s People’s Choice Award went to computer science student Qingjian Shi ’26 for Robot’s Expression of Individuality. In the submission statement, Shi said the work depicted a “retro-futuristic robot expressing itself and what it feels while contrasting mechanical and fluidity of nature in Monet style.”

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions went to Please Don’t Tap on the Glass (top) by mechanical engineering student Katie Jarvis ’25 and to The Fractals of Cactus (bottom) by optical engineering student Benjamin Margulies ’24.

bright sphere inside of a sideways vessel.

closeup of orange cactus needles.

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