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The inaugural Image of Research at Illinois State juried competition was originally scheduled to be exhibited March 19 at University Galleries in Uptown Normal. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the competition was moved online, and the Office of Student Research announced the winners April 9 (see above).

Forty-six undergraduate and graduate students entered the Image of Research juried competition by submitting one compelling, static image of their research along with a 200-word narrative. Students from all disciplines across campus were eligible.

The student submissions were evaluated by Alfonso Gosalbez Berenguer, artist and teacher of Spanish at Tri-Valley Highschool; Megan Kathol-Bersett, interim director of the Illinois Art Station; and Mitch Brinker, director of art at State Farm Insurance. The People’s Choice Awards were chosen by popular vote on the Office of Student Research’s Facebook page. 

After seeing similar exhibits at other universities, Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Dr. John Baur, Interim Director of Graduate School Dr. Noelle Selkow, and Office of Student Research Director Dr. Gina Hunter brought the Image of Research competition to life at Illinois State.

The original plan was to have the exhibit travel around campus, beginning with a pop-up exhibit showcasing the finalists’ work at University Galleries. The work was to also be displayed at Milner Library and on digital screens across campus. Hunter said now they plan is to showcase the pieces in the fall semester. 

“It’s always preferable to see art in person,” said Bret Williams, first-place winner in the graduate category and a graduate student in Creative Technologies. “But given our current situation, I believe the Office of Student Research did a great job with the transition.” 

Williams’ submission, Just a Little Light Reading, included an image taken by a MapIR spectral imaging camera, which was attached to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). With a color Lookup Table (LUT) applied to the image, this type of photography can show if a field is suffering from a lack of water, nitrogen, or sunlight. Williams entered the competition to share the importance of his project due to the amount of good it can have on the environment and in future farming practices. 

Senior Radiance Campbell, a sociology major, and women and gender studies and Latin American/Latinx studies double minor, received first place and People’s Choice in the undergraduate category. Campbell said the competition aligned perfectly with the purpose of her research. 

“Most of my data was collected and then represented through photography,” said Campbell. “Visual art is a more accessible way to reach an audience as opposed to a standard written research report.” 

Campbell’s submission, Consent & Intent, focuses on inclusion and tells a story of people learning, across racial lines, how to properly treat each other and the struggle of being included in white-dominated spaces. 

The online format enabled the winners and others to see the hard work entrants put into their research. 

“I was happy the competition was moved online instead of being cancelled,” said Hannah Harris, the People’s Choice Award recipient in the graduate category and a graduate student in athletic training. “It was a fun way to showcase what I have worked on for so long.”

Harris’ submission, Effects of Graston Technique on Blood Flow in the Upper Trapezius, examined how poor posture can influence the upper trapezius muscle activity and the effects of the Graston Technique on blood flow in the muscle. 

View all of the finalists in the Image of Research competition on the Office of Student Research website.