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Third Prize

Worm Love

Maria Ciocca '05
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
I am a graduate student in a lab that studies the process of asymmetric cell division in the development of model organisms, such as the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, pictured here. In the process of using immunofluorescence microscopy to study the one- and two-cell stage embryo of this organism, occasionally the slides will contain fully developed worms that were not properly removed in the fixation process. Typically these worms are not imaged and processed - in fact, they do not usually retain a recognizable form.

When I came across this image, it was too good to pass up. The natural shape of this organism does not include such sharp kinks as were found in this case (forming the base of the heart); nor would the worm typically assume a shape resembling a heart.

The staining used here was against the proteasome (green) and alpha-tubulin (red).