The EMBO Journal non-scientific cover prize is awarded for the most interesting and beautiful image made outside the lab. Contestants may submit, for example, photos or artistic impressions of wildlife animals, plants or landscapes. Particularly welcome will also be hand or computer-generated paintings or drawings (or photographs of other works of art) related to a biological or molecular biological topic.
The EMBO Journal scientific cover prize is awarded for the most captivating and thought-provoking contribution depicting a piece of molecular biology research. Entries can include light or electron micrographs, 3D reconstructions or models of biological specimen or molecules, spectacular artefacts collected in the lab, original new views of lab equipment (but not of colleagues!), or other research-based images to be of interest to molecular biologists.
The 2011 winners have been announced. The scientific image winner was Heiti Paves, who submitted a confocal image of an Arabidopsis thaliana anther filled with pollen grains. The non-scientific winner was Dieter Lampl, with his "Blue Ice" photo — a glacier in Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia.
My non-scientific entry (photo of fiber optics) received honourable mention and was included in the Favourites of the Jury gallery.
My non-scientific entry was an abstract image photo of fiber optics. It received honourable mention and were included in the Favourites of the Jury gallery.
The motivation and technical details behind these photos are described here.
My submission of a large Circos figure for its cover (see right), which was originally designed for a poster that introduced Circos, was awarded the 2010 EMBO Journal best scientific cover prize.
Some time ago, I did a personal project of photos of fiber optic strands. These worked out well. I had not done anything with these images, and thought they would make a competitive entry into the cover contest.
I revisited the fiber optic lamp with a higher resolution camera (Canon 5D — original images were from a Canon 20D) and a dedicated macro lens (Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX APO DG HSM Macro) (original images were shot with the Canon EF 24-70L).
From these new images, shown below, I created five EMBO Journal cover submissions.
The submissions would render on the cover as shown below.
I have selected several figures from our past columns and show how they evolved from their draft to published versions.
Clarity, concision and space constraints—we have only 3.4" of horizontal space— all have to be balanced for a figure to be effective.
It's nearly impossible to find case studies of scientific articles (or figures) through the editing and review process. Nobody wants to show their drafts. With this writeup I hope to add to this space and encourage others to reveal their process. Students love this. See whether you agree with my decisions!
The goal of these designs is to observe a reproducible effect that can be due only to the treatment, avoiding confounding and bias. Simultaneously, to sample enough variability to estimate how much we expect the effect to differ if the measurements are repeated with similar but not identical samples (replicates).
We need to distinguish between sources of variation that are nuisance factors in our goal to measure mean biological effects from those that are required to assess how much effects vary in the population.
Altman, N. & Krzywinski, M. (2014) Points of Significance: Two Factor Designs Nature Methods 11:5-6.
1. Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Designing Comparative Experiments Nature Methods 11:597-598.
2. Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and blocking Nature Methods 11:699-700.
3. Blainey, P., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of Significance: Replication Nature Methods 11:879-880.