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photo of neotropical toadThis photo by UWindsor’s Katrina Switzer and Lincoln Savi will be displayed this week in the new Essex Centre of Research as part of a travelling exhibition of finalists in the 2017 Science Exposed contest sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Ceremony today to open exhibit of Science Exposed images

The Faculty of Science is hosting a fuschia-coloured octopus, pelicans with bright orange throat pouches, and a toad the colour of daffodils.

The travelling roadshow of photographs — finalists in the 2017 Science Exposed contest sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and La Prevue par l’Image contest sponsored by Association Francophone Pour le Savoir — is on display this week in the atrium of the new Essex Centre of Research.

A ceremony marking the official opening of the weeklong exhibit will be held at 11:30 a.m. today and will also include a display of works by UWindsor students in the Science Meets Art (SMArt) group.

In the photo display making its way to university campuses across Canada is an image by PhD student Katrina Switzer and recent MSc graduate Lincoln Savi entitled, “It’s Not Easy Being Yellow.” The image, named a finalist in the NSERC contest, is of a male neotropical yellow toad latched onto the back of a female.

In the caption to their entry, Savi and Switzer explain that once a year, as the first rains fall in Costa Rica, the male toads undergo a dramatic transformation from a drab brown colour to a stunning lemon yellow.

“In only a few hours, after he’s finished fertilizing her eggs, he will transform back to his normal dull colour until the rains return next year,” they wrote.

Through hormone analysis and reflectance spectrometry, Switzer and other UWindsor researchers are studying the cause of the male’s spectacular colour change.

NSERC and Acfas sponsor the annual photo contest to showcase scientific research. Entrants have a chance to win cash prizes and have their research exposed to a national audience.

Dan Mennill, associate dean of graduate studies and research, said he leapt at the chance to host the travelling exhibit, especially since the work of two UWindsor students was included.

“We're really proud of Katrina and Lincoln,” Dr. Mennill said. “It’s an honour to have the traveling exhibit hosted on our campus for one week, and to see our students among the national finalists in this competition.”

Mennill said UWindsor has a strong culture of combining science with art. He said the Faculty of Science recently hosted an event called the Science of Music at the School of Creative Arts, it supports SMArt students and encourages students to enter NSERC’s photo and video contests.

“In the Faculty of Science, we're increasingly focused on the connections between the sciences and the arts,” Mennill said.

The photo display consists of 20 images. In addition to the photo by Savi and Switzer, other images relate to topics studied in the Faculty of Science, including changing Arctic ice, deep sea research, aquatic invertebrates, minerals, carbon nanotubes and neurobiology.

─Sarah Sacheli

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