Scottish Microscopy Society’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ winner

Posted by , on 18 January 2023

The Scottish Microscopy Society's logo.

Congratulations to Jamie Whitelaw, winner of the Christmas Cracker category in the Scottish Microscopy Society’s image competition. FocalPlane were delighted to sponsor this festive category, and we asked Jamie about the story behind his stunning image.

Jamie is a Lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland, and he was keen to give his microscopy images a chance to shine outside the realms of formal publication. “I decided to enter the competition because I think it is a great way to showcase some striking images we have generated,” Jamie explained. “We take thousands of images at the microscope with the majority not even making it to a figure in a published journal article. So, I wanted to showcase some of the images for others to see. I was fortunate enough to win last year’s judges choice competition and thought I’d give it a go this year too.”

Jamie’s winning image: ‘Cells Actin like a Xmas Tree’

Jamie’s image, ‘Cells Actin like a Xmas Tree’, makes creative use of some triangular mouse embryonic fibroblasts. “I particularly enjoyed making the Christmas tree image,” Jamie said. “The cells form a sort of jagged triangle shape when we knockout NckAP1, part of the WAVE-regulatory complex. So, I thought I would be able to pull those together to make an eye-catching Christmas tree using these cells. Here, the actin stain in green acts as the base of the tree, the nuclei as purple baubles and the focal adhesions at the edges of the cells as red lights.”

The Christmas Cracker winner was selected by public vote, which made winning this category even more special for Jamie. “Having the image voted for by the majority and seeing how well it was received by the public on Twitter was very humbling and also satisfying,” Jamie said.

The Scottish Microscopy Society aims to highlight the imaging technologies available across Scotland and is committed to outreach. Visit their website to check out the other entries and find out more about the society.

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