SNSF Scientific Image Competition

Get your cameras! Give Swiss research a face

​​​The SNSF Scientific Image Competition encourages researchers working in Switzerland to present their works to the public and the media. Photographs, images and videos will be rated in terms of their aesthetic quality and their ability to inspire and amaze, to convey or illustrate knowledge, to tell a human story or to let us discover a new universe.

All the entries to the competition (more than 3100) are available in our online gallery on Flickr.

  • Winners 2024

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    The jury has awarded four first prizes and fifteen distinctions out of the 386 submitted entries.

    Category 1 – Object of study

    Martin Stollenwerk

    Infrared layer showing underlying ornamentation, by Martin Stollenwerk

    Scientific collaborator, Swiss Institute for Art Research

    This is a compound image of the entry hall of the Swiss Institute for Art Research. It comprises one picture made in the visual spectrum and one taken in infrared. The latter is displayed in black and white and was computed out of six low-resolution images. It reveals underlying ornamentation in the right upper corner that was painted over around one hundred years ago. The colour layer consists of five high-resolution images and, in the left upper corner, shows how it looks today.

    I like the way this image allows us to see through the years. The media aspect fits with the era, as black and white was the only way to photograph at the time the ornaments were overpainted, whereas colour photography is usual today. I photograph art paintings and use reflected infrared imaging to detect preliminary drawings beneath them, or infrared transmission imaging to discover the presence of additional paint layers.

    Jury’s commentary │ What makes the image striking is its apparent familiarity, destabilised by the intrusion of a foreign element displayed in black and white. This meticulously performed scientific and technical endeavour creates beauty by building a bridge to our past and revealing in a transparent and immediate way what lies below the surface.

    Category 2 – Women and men of science

    Tanguy Racine

    Lidar scanning in the Vallorbe cave system, by Tanguy Racine

    Postdoctoral researcher, University of Neuchâtel

    Our project aims at better modelling flow and solute transport in karst conduits, based on the analysis of realistic cave-passage geometries. Postdoc Celia Trunz is carrying out the acquisition of a detailed 3D point cloud of an active cave conduit in the Vallorbe cave system (canton of Vaud). In high water conditions, this passage fills up completely with the underground Orbe river. Using remote-triggered slave flashes, I recreated the lighting conditions used during the scan.

    Jury’s commentary │ A classical image of the scientist-explorer embedded within their field of study. The photography overcomes the evidently difficult conditions to achieve perfect framing, composition and lighting.

    Category 3 – Locations and instruments

    Jonas Müller

    Acoustic cloning, by Jonas Müller

    PhD student, ETH Zurich

    The image shows our research project on acoustic cloning. Its aim is to couple physical acoustic spaces and numerical ones (i.e. recreated by algorithms) to allow any wave field to seamlessly propagate between the two domains. Since acoustic waves are invisible, we project the simulation of a wave field onto the waveguide. Our experiment shows that the sound reflection created by a physical object (the scatterer) can be cloned, i.e. reproduced by loudspeakers controlled by an algorithm previously trained on the real object. This image expresses the complexity of this research and the beauty of bridging the physical and numerical worlds.

    Jury’s commentary │A strong, symmetrical composition reminiscent of science-fiction iconography, the image satisfies the viewer’s longing for a complex and hermetic science to immerse themself in. It oscillates between purpose, control and order on the one hand and chaos, improvisation and DIY on the other one.

    Category 4 – Video loops

    Christopher Hahne

    Brain vascularity, by Christopher Hahne

    Postdoctoral researcher, University of Bern

    The secrets of brain vascularity can be revealed by cutting-edge ultrasound imaging. This video shows the reconstruction of a static image of the blood flow in a rat brain, starting in slow motion and gradually accelerating.

    In clinical practice, contrast-enhanced ultrasound is a crucial tool for identifying cancer or stroke-related diseases. Despite generating high-contrast frames, it struggles with low image resolution. To overcome the resolution limit of this method, we used ultrasound localisation microscopy, which pinpoints contrast agent particles to visualise blood-flow direction and velocity. This technology enables the reconstruction of blood vessels with sub-wavelength precision, promising enhanced diagnostics in future healthcare. The raw ultrasound signals were captured at Sorbonne University and transformed into images by a fast artificial intelligence tool developed with support from the Hasler Foundation.

    Jury’s commentary │ With its strong aesthetic appeal, the video captures our attention with patterns that seem universal but are at first hard to pinpoint. It provides a complete story, from start to finish, that feeds on our desire to understand what happens in a brain.

  • About the competition

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    The competition is held annually. An international jury will meet at the beginning of the year and award a CHF 1,000 prize in each category for the winning entry, as well as CHF 250 for each distinction. The award-winning works are announced in April or May, displayed in an exhibition at the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography and made available to the public and the media, as well as to scientific institutions.

    The competition has multiple aims: to highlight the growing role of images in scientific research, to reveal how scientific work is conducted and to give a face to the researchers conducting it. The competition also aims to encourage the media to use more images in their science coverage and make them accessible to the public through exhibitions.

    We encourage researchers to pick up their camera and document the – often unusual – environment in which they work, and to give their colleagues a face.

    Jury 2024

    The jury includes international experts in the fields of photography, museums, media and research from around the world.


  • Alexander Sauer, photographerExternal Link Icon (Switzerland)
  • Members

  • Emanuela Ascoli, Head of photography & exhibitions of National Geographic FranceExternal Link Icon
  • Emmanuelle Giacometti, director of l’Espace des InventionsExternal Link Icon (Switzerland)
  • Tanja Gesell, biologist and artist, University of Vienna (Austria)
  • Patrick Gyger, director of Plateforme 10External Link Icon (Switzerland)
  • Award ceremony, exhibition and online galleries

    The award ceremony will take place in May 2024 during the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography, where a selection of the works will be exhibited.

    The images are presented at other exhibitions as well as online:

  • Participation

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    Participation requirements

    All scientists working at a research institution in Switzerland are eligible to participate. The works must have been produced less than 12 months before the deadline for submitting entries.


    Researchers who wish to take part in the competition must fill in the online form.

    Categories of the competition

    Each participant may submit from 1 to 5 entries, in one or more of the following categories:

    1) Object of study (image)

    From the microcosm to the macrocosm, images of the research object captured by scientists using a camera or generated by a computer.

    2) Women and men of science (photographs)

    Photographs of research in practice, presented by and featuring those conducting it.

    3) Locations and instruments

    Photographs of the surroundings in which scientists take measurements, generate data and make discoveries, and of the instruments they use while doing so.

    4) Video loop

    Chronophotography, video or animated gif, documenting some aspects of categories 1 to 3.

    Technical details


    Digital image file obtained from a camera. Format: JPEG or TIFF. Maximum size: 100 MB. Minimum resolution: 2000 x 3000 pixels (16.9 x 25.4 cm to 300 dpi). Digital touching up permitted.


    Digital image file taken from a camera or computer-generated from data obtained through observation or computer simulation (excluding explanatory infographics). Others: see "Photographs", above.


    Digital video file taken from a camera or computer-generated from data obtained through observation or computer simulation (excluding explanatory infographics). Formats: GIF, AVI, MP4 (edited in a loop). Maximum size: 300 MB. Duration: from 3 to 15 seconds. Minimum resolution: 480 x 720 pixels (DVD resolution). Digital touching up permitted.

    Terms of use

    The participants retain their copyright. They authorise the publication of the submitted images under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence ( unaltered images can be used freely for non-commercial purposes as long as they are credited as the creator of the image.

  • Winners 2017 - 2023

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    Online gallery

    All of the images are presented in our online gallery. Follow the images from the competition on Twitter using the hashtag #SwissScienceImage.

  • People’s prize 2017-2021

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    In March 2021, the public voted for its favourites from among 50 photographs and 15 videos. The preselection had been made in February 2021 by 20 photography students of Arts College Bern/Biel.

    A view from inside the neocortical forest (2017)

    Nicolas Antille (EPFL)

    Jump! (2021) - Video

    Daniel Huber (University of Geneva)

  • News

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