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10 years of our Images of Research competition

29 November 2023

3 minutes to read

10 years of our Images of Research competition

2023 marks the 10th anniversary of our Images of Research competition – a competition which asks our early career researchers (ECRs) to select an image which encapsulates their research alongside a description. 

Although a simple ask on the surface, the challenge is to do this within 150 words and written in a way the public will understand.

The benefit: an opportunity to practice important skills in engaging wider audiences – useful for their careers and securing future funding – but also a permanent reference point of their entry on our competition homepage 

“I am delighted to support our Images of Research competition as we celebrate its 10th anniversary. This competition serves as a platform to showcase and celebrate the diverse and impactful research from our Early Career Researchers. These visual representations have the power to transcend traditional academic boundaries, making complex research more accessible to a broader audience, including our university community and the general public. I look forward to seeing the exhibition of images next year.“ Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, Vice-President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Impact)

Collectively, the University of Exeter produces a huge amount of high-quality research. Signs of this research may be apparent in the press – or if you look more closely, in everyday life – however actually what goes on behind the closed doors of the corridors and further afield, is somewhat of a mystery. If you think of all the individual research projects undertaken at any one time as pebbly beach, images of research seeks to turn over a selection of those pebbles to shine a light on these projects. The resulting exhibitions provide some fascinating insights into our research, giving a sense of the breadth of the work we undertake. 

As one of the first universities to run an images of research competition, we’ve received hundreds of entries in this time. Many other universities have also seen the benefits and followed suit, offering similar competitions at either an ECR or PGR-level.  

Such competitions not only hold clear benefits for the entrants – but there are wider benefits to those who choose to come and view the images as part of the exhibition – and also the universities themselves. The exhibited entries provide the public and local communities with an understanding of the value of our research to the wider world, while universities benefit from positive community engagement and tangible examples of what makes them unique – something which isn’t easy to convey in the crowded higher education sector. It’s for these reasons, the exhibition of our 2023 entries on our Streatham Campus will coincide with our Undergraduate Offer Holder Visit Days, enabling parents as well as prospective students a glimpse into the fascinating research undertaken by Exeter colleagues.  

To celebrate 10 years, we’re also hoping to exhibit beyond our campuses in 2024 and we’re offering an extra Arts and Culture Commendation prize, awarded for the image which best combines both a striking artistic image and evidence of a research project which is transdisciplinary and/or collaborative. The winner will have the opportunity to display a series of research images through a permanent online exhibition on the Arts and Culture website.

 “I am very happy and flattered to win a price for my photograph of a restored coral reef in the Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia. Reefs in this region are still being impacted by destructive fishing practises such as blast fishing. It was therefore heart-warming to see (and study) the success of this local restoration project, which is to date unmatched in scale and efficiency worldwide. I must thus really extend the praise to the team at Mars Sustainable Solutions, who built the basis for the beautiful underwater world in my photo.”   Ines Lange, 1st prize winner for the 2022 competition

The local restoration and science team that was involved in the work. 
Credit: Luca Vaime, Indo Pacific Films (

‘Communicating complex research to the public is now more important than ever, and an image can make a world of difference. The top entries this year caught my attention by demonstrating the central issue of the project, and placing the researcher within the frame. They showed what researchers are doing, and why.’
Professor Andrew McRae, Dean of the Doctoral College and 2022 competition judge

You can find out more about the competition and see past entries on our Images of Research webpages. Entries for the 2023 competition close on 5 January 2024. 

For more information please contact:

Becky Euesden, Research and Communications Officer, Researcher Development and Research Culture

Crabeater-Seals-from-the-Sky on an ice float

2nd place 2022: Crabeater Seals from the Sky, Luis Huckstadt

Girl with dolls in masks

3rd place 2022: Pandemic Play, Rachel Nesbit



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