The 20 Best Science Images of 2015


From particles in a mouse’s lung to a cross section of a cat’s tongue to the nervous system of a fruit fly larva, the winning images of the 2015 Wellcome Image Awards showcase things you didn’t think it was possible to see, let alone make into works of art.

Each year, Wellcome honors the best in science imaging talent and techniques. As Catherine Draycott, Head of Wellcome Images and a member of this year’s judging panel, says in a press release, “This year’s selection of winning images is not only beautiful; they bring to life an incredible array of innovative imaging techniques, and hint at stories and ideas that go beyond the visual.” 

Adam Rutherford, another member of the judging panel, adds, “The breath-taking riches of the imagery that science generates are so important in telling stories about research and helping us to understand often abstract concepts. It's not just about imaging the very small either, it's about understanding life, death, sex and disease: the cornerstones of drama and art.”

The 20 winning images (shown below) will be honored at a ceremony on March 18, during which the overall winner will also be announced. Following the ceremony, the images will be displayed in 11 science centers, museums, and galleries across the world.

Pollen grains, Asteraceae // Artwork

Maurizio De Angelis

Boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) // SEM and LM composite 

Daniel Kariko

Reticulum (stomach chamber), goat

Michael Frank, Royal Veterinary College

Pregnant uterus, equine

Michael Frank, Royal Veterinary College

Natural killer (NK) cell immune synapse // 3D-SIM

N. Dieckmann & N. Lawrence, University of Cambridge

Lungs in ribcage, Hodgkin lymphoma patient // 3D printed nylon

Dave Farnham

Cat tongue, cross section 

David Linstead

Tuatara skeleton // micro-CT

Sophie Regnault

Mouse brain, coronal view

Luis de la Torre-Ubieta, Geschwind Laboratory, UCLA

Purkinje cell and dendritic tree, rat cerebellar cortex // SEM

Prof. M. Hausser, Sarah Rieubland & Arnd Roth, UCL

Distribution of metabolites in a mouse kidney // CMP

Jefferson R. Brown, Robert E. Marc, Bryan W. Jones, Glen Prusky & Nazia Alam

Brain astrocyte cell taking up carbon nano-needles // SEM

Khuloud T. Al-Jamal, Serene Tay & Michael Cicirko

An elderly lady with Kyphosis (curvature of the spine)

Mark Bartley, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Parasitoid wasp Wallaceaphytis kikiae // LM

Andrew Polaszek, Natural History Museum

Greenfly eye // SEM

Kevin Mackenzie, University of Aberdeen

Nervous system in a fruit fly larva, serial section TEM

Albert Cardona, HHMI Janelia Research Campus

Healthy adult human brain // tractography from MRI

Dr. Flavio Dell'Acqua

Drug-releasing depots in mouse lungs

Gregory Szeto, Adelaide Tovar, Jeffrey Wyckoff, Koch Institute, copyright MIT

Full paediatric sensory unit

Geraldine Thompson, CMFT

Old model used in the teaching of Anatomy, Dublin

Anthony Edwards

All images courtesy Wellcome Images