Evoking sustainability, striking photo wins top honors

Sung Hoon Kang and colleagues place first in the 2009 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

February 18, 2010 - A striking photograph created by a team of researchers affiliated with the lab of Joanna Aizenberg at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) won first prize in the photography category of the 2009 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored jointly by the journal Science, which is published by AAAS, the nonprofit international science society, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Entitled, Save Our Earth, Let's Go Green, the winning image shows tiny plastic "fingers", each with a diameter 1/500th of a human hair, cradling a tiny green sphere, bringing to mind cooperative efforts across the world to promote the sustainability of the planet.

First reported in Science (Pokroy et al., Science 2009), the finding demonstrates a new way of controlling the self-assembly of polymer hairs.

Produced with a scanning electronic microscope and digitally enhanced for color, the winning photograph was produced by Sung Hoon Kang, a graduate student at SEAS; Boaz Pokroy a former Fulbright Scholar at SEAS and now at Technion, Israel Institute of Technology); and Aizenberg, Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at SEAS, Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and a core member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

In a press release issued by AAAS, Kang remarked that the image brought to mind sustainability: "What is one of the most important issues for our planet, which needs collaboration of people from every area?"

"Public outreach has always been a weak side of science," Aizenberg added. "By adding art and metaphors to our research portfolio, we, as citizens, can send a clear message to the world: science--at its core--is focused on the problems of societal importance. This will work better than detailed (and often incomprehensible) scientific debates."

Currently in its seventh year, the international competition honors artists who use visual media to promote our understanding of scientific research. The criteria for judging the entries included visual impact, effective communication, freshness and originality.

The 19 February 2010 issue of Science features the winning entries, which are freely available with registration, at and the NSF's website at

Scientist Profiles

Joanna Aizenberg

Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science and Professor of Chemistry & Chemical Biology