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Mark Bond's winning photo

Mark Bond’s winning photo

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and the atmosphere and the marine environment certainly both lend themselves to visual depiction, whether artistic and/or scientific.  Thus, it seemed a natural when graduate students Mark Bond, a PhD student with the School’s Institute for Ocean Conservation Science (IOCS), and Sara Cernadas, PhD student and Graduate Student Club officer, decided to organize the first Annual SoMAS Photo Competition.  The competition gives students, faculty and staff an opportunity to share pictures with the SoMAS community and the general public. According to Mark Bond, the idea for the competition was to showcase the exciting work and research that people at SoMAS are doing while also brightening up the corridors for guests to the campus.

There were three categories in the competition. The Macro/Micro category was for photos taken with a macro-objective lens but also included photos taken with a microscope. The Research category covered photos taken in the field or lab while conducting research. The third category, SoMAS Spirit, was for any other photos that embodies the spirit of SoMAS. Each contestant was allowed up to 3 entries. A panel of SoMAS faculty was appointed as judges: Dr. Gordon Taylor, Dr. Brad Peterson and Dean Minghua Zhang.

Twenty-seven students and faculty entered a total of 64 total photographs, 31 in the Research category, 17 in the Macro category and 16 in the Spirit category. “I thought the turnout was very good,” said Mark Bond, adding “It would be nice to see some more of the faculty get involved next year.”

Amber Stubler's photo of a flamingo tongue snail

Amber Stubler’s photo of a flamingo tongue snail

The panel of judges first narrowed the competition to the top five entries in each category. These fifteen shots were then evaluated by a panel of professional photographers to select the winner. The external judges included Matthew Potenski, a marine photographer whose images have been used by, inter alia, the BBC, National Geographic and the World Wildlife Fund and the husband-and-wife team of Chris and Monique Fallows who are most well-known for their images of breaching white sharks that have appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide and have been featured in the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

SoMAS graduate students took home top honors in each category. Melissa Patrician’s photo of icebergs from a cruise in Antarctica won 1st place in SoMAS Spirit. Amber Stubler’s photo of a flamingo tongue, Cyphoma gibbosum, taken while conducting research in Jamaica, won 1st place in the Macro category. Mark Bond’s photo of a reef squid from a research tip in Belize took home 1st place in the Research category.

The winning photos in each category will be enlarged and put up to grace the halls of SoMAS. Each year, three more winning photos will be hung. In addition, thanks to an anonymous donation, each 1st place winner also received $100 dollar prize in this initial competition.

The quality of the submitted photos was uniformly high; selecting just three winners posed a difficult challenge for the judges. “These are stunningly beautiful pictures,” commented Dean Zhang. “I am very pleased that SoMAS students initiated this photo competition to create art that we all can enjoy. They reflect what we do.”

The Photo Competition is divided into three categories:

Macro: It’s all about the detail! Photos taken with the macro option-objective of the camera as well as microscope pictures will be accepted in this category.
Research: Pictures taken in the field or in the laboratory will be considered in this category. For a picture to be eligible the research related to it had to take place while being a SoMAS’ member (enrolled in the school or employed as staff).
SoMAS spirit: Freestyle photos. Anything that embodies the spirit of SoMAS will be eligible under this category. It can include photos of SoMAS events, SoMAS personnel, campus/equipment…your choice!


1st place: Amber Stubler – Flamingo Tongue
2nd place: Ruth Coffey – Squid
3rd Place: John Caroll – Anemone Shrimp

All Macro photos are available on Google Photos.


1st place: Mark Bond – Squid
2nd place: Carl Safina – Kings Crowding Ashore South Georgia
3rd Place: Chris Martinez – Skate X-Ray

All Research photos are available on Google Photos.



1st place: Melissa Patrician – Sunrise
2nd place: Anne-Cooper Doherty – Lond Island Sound Wave Break
3rd Place: Keith Dunton – Sturgeon

All Spirit photos are available on Google Photos.


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