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Research and Innovation

NC State Researchers: Show Us What You’re Working On

aerial view of a wetland forest shows many green trees and large patches of floating weed in the water
Photo by Andrew Howell shows aerial view of a North Carolina wetland. The photo was taken as part of a research effort aimed at assessing the abundance of an invasive plant called Giant Salvinia.

Research is a process of discovery that broadens our understanding of the world around us and how it works. And images are an effective tool for sharing these discoveries in a way that informs and captivates.

From photography and microscopy to video production and data visualization, we know that the NC State research community is producing images that literally show us what they’re working on. Now we want to see it.

NC State is calling on graduate students, undergraduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff to take part in Envisioning Research, the university’s annual research image contest. Help us highlight the beauty and importance of the work being done at the bench and in the field, both on campus and around the world. (And, yes, there are cash prizes.)

The contest is a collaborative effort by NC State’s Office of Research and Innovation, the Graduate School, the Office of Undergraduate Research, the NC State University Libraries and University Communications and Marketing. There are cash prizes for winners and runners-up in four categories:

  • Photography (including photos of fieldwork): submissions should be in a JPEG format and must be high-resolution.
  • Microscopy: submissions should be in a JPEG format and must be high-resolution.
  • Graphics and Data Visualization: submissions can be in JPEG, TIF, GIF or PDF formats and must be high-resolution.
  • Video and Interactive: submissions can be no longer than two minutes. Shorter is better, and there should be an emphasis on visual presentation rather than narration. Submissions can be in MP4 or WMV formats. If the submission is already available online, contestants can submit a URL to the relevant page. Sound is optional.

[A note on resolution: it is important to capture and retain the highest-resolution original with the tools used in image creation (e.g., a 12MP camera captures a 4368 x 2912 px image). If needed, submissions may be compressed as a copy of the original to comply with the 16MB maximum upload size.]

All images should be original, well-executed and effective at communicating information to the audience. Submissions must be related to a specific research project that took place, or is ongoing, at NC State.

There will be separate prizes, based on each contestant’s status at the university. A total of $4,200 will be awarded. There is a $250 prize for first-place graduate student or postdoctoral contestants in each category, and a $100 prize for second-place graduate student or postdoctoral contestants. There is a $250 prize for first-place faculty or staff contestants in each category, and a $100 prize for second-place faculty or staff contestants. There is also a $250 prize for first-place undergraduate student contestants in each category and a $100 prize for second-place undergraduate student contestants. Winners will also see their entries exhibited on the video walls at Hunt Library.

Submission forms and more information are available at: Submissions are due no later than June 19, 2023.

Each submission must include a caption of no more than 150 words that describes the work. Each submission must also include a one- to two-sentence explanation of why the work may be important for North Carolina, the United States or the world.

Submissions from a laboratory or team of researchers must designate a single point of contact on the form.

Individuals may submit multiple entries, but each entry must be submitted separately.

By submitting a photograph, image, graphic or video (collectively the “work”) contestants hereby agree to the following:

  • You certify and warrant that the work is your own original creative work and does not violate or infringe the copyright or other proprietary or intellectual property rights of others.
  • You retain all copyright and equivalent rights but grant permission for North Carolina State University to use, reproduce, distribute, and/or release the work to the public in any manner and in any medium without payment of any fee, and in perpetuity.
  • North Carolina State University reserves the right to use contestants’ names and works for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes, including website or exhibition of winning entries. You understand that the works will be shared with reporters covering these awards and for promotion of the competition itself. You hereby give North Carolina State University nonexclusive rights to use your name, likenesses, quotes and submissions for educational publicity and/or promotional purposes. This includes but is not limited to website display, print materials and exhibits.
  • The contest organizers reserve the right to place an entry in a different category if the category on the submission is deemed to be inaccurate.
  • You hereby agree to indemnify North Carolina State University, its trustees, officers, agents, and employees, from any and all claims, demands, and liabilities (including attorneys’ fees) incurred as a result of a final judgment or settlement or any claim or legal proceeding arising out of or resulting from a breach or claimed breach of the foregoing representations and warranties.

Winners will be announced in August. Anyone with questions about the contest can email

Need some inspiration? Check out the winning entries from 2021 and 2022.