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The Buzz About Bee Lawns By Anne Readel
CREDIT: By Anne Readel

RPS Woman Science Photographer of the Year

Congratulations to the winners of 2023

A huge thank you to everyone who entered this year's competition. 


Winners     Finalists     Shortlisted    Judging Panel

The RPS Women in Photography group introduced the competition to celebrate and support the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 10 February, as initiated by the UN General Assembly.

While some progress has been made to bridge the gender gap, women are still significantly under-represented at all levels of science and technology. They account for less than half of STEM graduates, are typically given smaller research grants, have shorter and less well-paid careers and are often passed over for promotion. The list goes on and also extends to the field of photography. 

With this new annual competition, the RPS aims to shine a light on women in both science and photography. An expert panel reviewed entries received from across the UK and beyond to make a selection for the two categories of over-18s and under-18s. Women and female identifying photographers of all ages and backgrounds were invited to capture the world around them.

With subjects ranging from medical research to marine biology and agriculture, explorations of global food chains or habitats of creepy crawlies, and techniques extending from nature-based cyanotypes to laboratory standard microscope photography, the submitted works illustrate the breadth of talent and skills evident at the intersection of art and science.

The votes are in.  Our panel has selected 23 finalists from the entries that we received from female photographers around the world.  Two winners have been chosen from these finalists;  Margaret LeJeune has been awarded Woman Science Photographer of the Year, 2023; and, Kelly Zhang has been awarded Young Woman Photographer.  A further 18 images have been shortlisted by the panel to feature with our winner and finalists in a digital exhibition opening on 10th February, 2023 running until end of March, 2023 at the Royal Photographic Society in Bristol.


Winner Over 18 Watershed Triptych By Margaret Lejeune
CREDIT: Margaret Lejeune
Watershed Triptych
By Margaret LeJeune, USA

Watershed Triptych harnesses the light of bioluminescent dinoflagellates to illuminate watershed maps from the United States Geological Survey Hydromap project. These organisms, colloquially known as sea sparkle, are also the same marine life that generates red tide algal blooms. Though sometimes naturally occurring, these harmful blooms have been increasing in numbers over the past 30 years as larger and more powerful storms flood factory farms causing excessive nutrients to spill into the waterways from CAFO overflows. These maps represent the three largest watersheds in the United States and the outflow areas where algal blooms have been recorded.   


 Winner Under 18 The Beauty Of Soap Bubbles By Kelly Zhang
CREDIT: Kelly Zhang
The Beauty of Soap Bubbles
By Kelly Zhang, USA

I took this photograph of soap bubbles in 2022 and was genuinely amazed by their iridescent hues and rich textures. The swirling pattern of colours is caused by thin-film interference, where light reflected from the outer soap layer interferes with light reflected from the inner soap layer.


Runner Up - Young Photographer Nanosatelite by Lina Yeleuova
CREDIT: Lina Yeleuova
By Lina Yeleuova, Kazakhstan

On March 27, more than 150 female participants of the UniSat educational program from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan launched three state-of-the-art nanosatellites into the stratosphere. The nanosatellites, which belong to a class of small spacecraft, are equipped with several cameras, one of which is capable of capturing elliptical images of the Earth in 4K resolution. 

Girls and I were selected from 2,000 young women who had previously completed the UniSat online course to create and launch nanosatellites. The online course curriculum included processing environmental flight data from nanosatellites during launch, visualizing the data, preparing a mission report, and using the data for scientific and practical purposes. 

UniSat is an educational program of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Kazakh National University named after Al-Farabi. The purpose is to give learning and growth opportunities to women in the field of nanosatellite development. The nanosatellites were created as part of a 10-day marathon at the university.





Portrait Of An Alien By Irina Petrova Adamatzky
CREDIT: Irina Petrova Adamatzky
Portrait Of An Alien
By Irina Petrova Adamatzky

A photo of the skin of a corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus). It was made using ultraviolet light. It's a scientific fact that snakeskin glows in ultraviolet light which herpetologists use to find snakes in the dark since the end of last century.


 Finalist Leap Of Science By Lianna Nixon
CREDIT: Lianna Nixon
Leap Of Science
By Lianna Nixon, USA

After weeks searching for the perfect ice floe, the MOSAiC Expedition team puts out tonnes of research equipment onto the sea ice to understand the coupled Central Arctic Climate system and its future. To implement some equipment means facing obstacles, like moving equipment over ridges, difficult terrain, and melt ponds which have melted through the surface of the sea ice to the ocean. A group of scientists push an ASFS flux sled over a lead in the sea ice in hopes to find place it can measure the surface reflectivity of sea ice.

Finalist Thermal Imaging Varicose Veins by Marie Jones
CREDIT: Marie Jones
Thermal Imaging Varicose Veins
By Marie Jones, UK

The medical photographer used her clinical knowledge together with specialist photography skills to demonstrate this patient’s prominent great anterior saphenous varicose vein using cross-lighting photography techniques combined with the thermal image. The composite image was used to support the patient’s case to apply for NHS funding for avulsion surgery.

Finalist On Thin Ice By Lianna Nixon
CREDIT: Lianna Nixon
On Thin Ice
By Lianna Nixon, USA

Dr. Melinda Webster on the MOSAiC Expedition walks a transect line in the Central Arctic. The data she takes with her instrument helps scientists understand properties of sea ice and compare it to satellite data and global climate models. Kilometers away from the German research icebreaker Polarstern, her foot crashes through a frozen melt pond and careful not to damage her survival suit, she takes measurements that will help us understand the Arctic and its future.

Finalist The Value Of Trees By Aya Okawa
CREDIT: Aya Okawa
The Value Of Trees
By Aya Okawa, USA

The lumber industry is big business. The top 3 forestry companies in British Columbia had $6.5 billion in income in Q1 of 2022 alone. Trees photosynthesize - taking in carbon dioxide from the air & releasing oxygen. As such, they provide efficient carbon capture solutions, able to counteract increases in CO2 and other pollutants that increasingly impact the global climate. However, in the current economic paradigm, the monetary value of trees is considered higher when they are cut down than when they are standing. As a visual anthropologist, I use photography as a tool to study & document patterns of human behaviour.

 Helping Hands By Prelena Soma Owen
CREDIT: Prelena Soma Owen
Helping Hands
By Prelena Soma Owen, South Africa

Rescued white-bellied baby pangolin gets prepared for its morning feed. Taken at Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria at a centre that rescues, rehabilitates and releases pangolins.

The Buzz About Bee Lawns By Anne Readel
CREDIT: By Anne Readel
The Buzz About Bee Lawns
By Anne Readel, USA

A honeybee (Apis mellifera) feeds on white clover growing in a “bee lawn” installed on the University of Minnesota campus, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Scientists there created a special seed mix that combines clover, self-heal, and creeping thyme flowers with sustainable fescue grass to help support declining bee populations. 

Colony By Jindra Jehu
CREDIT:  Jindra Jehu
By Jindra Jehu, UK

Colony 2022 is a sculptural work made from paper and engine oil which has been transformed by the growth of Pink Oyster Mushrooms. The work questions the ability of the ‘grey kingdom’ to convert hydrocarbons into fungal sugars. Land and water cleansed through mycoremediation.

Rugose Coral By Christine Fitzgerald
CREDIT: Christine Fitzgerald
Rugose Coral
By Christine Fitzgerald, Canada

This is a photo collage created from a cross-section of an extinct Rugose Solitary Coral from Anticosti Island (Québec), CANADA. The coral is from the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction on Earth approximately 450 million years ago.

Protanopia Experience By Liz Sherriff
CREDIT: Liz Sherrif
Protanopia Experience
By Liz Sherriff, UK

Exploring the subjective nature of vision using colour perception which has both a biological and psychological component.

The human eye can physically perceive millions of colours, but we do not all recognise these colours in the same way.

The distribution and density of light-sensitive cone cells in the retina varies across people with “normal vision” causing us all to biologically experience the same colour in slightly different ways.

 As well as our individual biological make-up colour perception is also about how our brain interprets colours to create something meaningful. The perception of colour occurs mainly inside our heads, and so is subjective and prone to personal experience.

Recent research suggests that our gender, age and the language we speak can affect how we distinguish between colours and shades and that individuals do not see the same colours.

Here the medical condition red/green (propantopia-type) colour blindness - a defect or absence of cone cells in the retina that are sensitive to specific colours, - is used to demonstrate colour perception.

Colour blindness is an inherited sex-linked condition affecting 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. Someone with protanopia-type colour blindness will see this flower as one colour.

Acropora Tenuis Coral Settlers On 3D Printed Polylactic Acid By Lisa Roepke
CREDIT: Lisa Roepke
Acropora Tenuis Coral Settlers On 3D Printed Polylactic Acid
By Lisa Roepke, Germany

I am a PhD candidate working on coral ecology and restoration. In the course of my work, I am looking at recently developed antifouling coatings and their potential use in reef restoration applications. The photo shows coral settlers of the species Acropora tenuis, which were investigated for their settlement competency on 3D-printed polylactic acid discs at the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville, Australia.

Robotic Assisted Surgery By Shay Gunstone
CREDIT: Shay Gunstone
Robotic Assisted Surgery
By Shay Gunstone, UK

This image depicts robotic-assisted surgery for Deep Brain Stimulation insertion. Using infrared, this robot marks a precise area where surgeons can insert electrodes into the brain, relieving symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Green Potato Bugs Cuspicona Simplex By Danielle Edwards
CREDIT: Danielle Edwards
Green Potato Bugs Cuspicona Simplex
By Danielle Edwards, Australia

Cuspicona simplex commonly called Green potato bugs. Bright lime green eggs were studied and photographed over time until eggs hatched and nymphs appeared. Once hatched the nymphs continue to huddle in a group till eventually dispersing individually when safe.

Chlamydomonas Nivalis Red Pigmented Green Algae Antarctica By Victoria Stokes ARPS
CREDIT: Victoria Stokes ARPS
Chlamydomonas Nivalis Red Pigmented Green Algae Antarctica
By Victoria Stokes ARPS, UK

Warmer temperatures can create the perfect conditions for the algae Chlamydomonas nivalis to bloom. It darkens the snow which absorbs more heat and accelerates melting, creating a feedback loop.

This image was captured on the Antarctic Peninsula in 2020, in the same week the continent saw multiple record-breaking temperatures.

Ghost Fishing Gear From The Sea By Caroline Fraser
CREDIT:  Caroline Fraser
Ghost Fishing Gear From The Sea
By Caroline Fraser, UK

Dumped fishing gear, known as 'ghost gear', is a major hazard to marine life and is the main component of macroplastics in our seas and oceans. Over 640,000 tonnes are added by the fishing industry every year, the equivalent of 55,000 double-decker buses in weight.

Axe Target By Lois Wakeman LRPS
CREDIT: Lois Wakeman LRPS
Axe Target
By Lois Wakeman LRPS, UK

At low tide, you can walk on the bed of the River Axe at Axmouth in East Devon. It's made of iron-rich Triassic mudstones. The red rock is flecked and speckled with pale grey-green circles and blotches. This is where the red oxidised ferric iron (like rust) has been reduced to ferrous iron, which is greenish. Sometimes you can see the nucleus that caused this - probably a piece of organic matter that decayed anaerobically. The 'target' is a nice example of this. 

Caught For Science By Viktoria Pezzei
CREDIT: Viktoria Pezzei
Caught For Science
By Viktoria Pezzei, Germany

A western barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus) landed in a mist net set up by scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany. They investigate the effects of light pollution on light-sensitive bat species by tagging them with a sensor. 

Space And Soil 2 By Holly Sandiford
CREDIT: Holly Sandiford
Space And Soil 2
By Holly Sandiford, UK

This image has been made by painting soil onto expired photographic paper. The different chemical makeup of the soil interacts differently with the paper. Through this work, I am making connections between the diverse microbial life of the soil and the vastness of space to remind us of the beauty and importance of the soil.

The Great Big Glacier Melt By Janina Stromfield
CREDIT: Janina Stromfield
The Great Big Glacier Melt
By Janina Stromfield, UK

200 of 225 of Greenland's glaciers are in retreat as a result of human activity.  Eqi, seen here calving, symbolises the destruction that this will cause to biodiversity as it contributes to the rise of sea levels.  The consequences are as dramatic as the image.



Ostracod Composition No 4 by Margaret LeJeune
CREDIT: Margaret LeJeune
Ostracod Composition 4
By Margaret LeJeune, USA

In my work with ostracods, I use reanimated desiccated organisms to paint with light on the surface of large-format film. With performance-like movements in the darkroom, I use the temporary glow of the bioluminescence to make marks that reference the forms of hurricanes, typhoons, and other severe weather events that are the result of warming oceans.

Shortlisted: Mapping The Artist Brain By Esther Villalobos
CREDIT: Esther Villalobos
Mapping The Artist Brain
By Esther Villalobos, USA

This work is base in the research Mapping the artistic Brain published in june 2020 Roger E Beaty Pennsylvania state University, Qunlin Chen southwest university in Chongqing, Jiang Qiu Southwest University in Chongqing. new path found in artistic brain.


 Shortlisted The Maze By Kim Simpson
CREDIT: Kim Simpson
The Maze
By Kim Simpson, UK

The maze aims to highlight barriers faced by women in male dominated industries including areas of photography and science. The colours made visible by utilising the technique of cross polarisation represent the unique experiences faced by women, making paths to success an unequal journey.



3044207 27 Shortlisted Stromatolites By Valeria Beruto
CREDIT: Valeria Beruto
By Valeria Beruto, Argentina

In the extreme Puna, in the Andes of Salta, at an altitude of about four thousand meters, a primal air of unbridled geology can be inhaled: abundant sun, desert and thirst. It is the memory of the beginnings of life on Earth: salt, UV radiation, cold and little oxygen. A choreography that repeats over and over again, written in the planet's log. There, in some pools of blue water that yearn for the sea, live the stromatolites: communities of cyanobacteria that group together in sedimentary formations. Live rocks. Two billion years ago, when the Earth had no atmosphere, they invented something: photosynthesis. So, in one of the longest periods in natural history, the planet was filled with the oxygen that these bacteria made. No one was oblivious to the novelty, to that silent and brutal landing: those who did not adapt to oxygen died and the new forms felt powerful. But also vulnerable: oxygen damaged DNA. They wrapped the DNA in a membrane to protect it and to repair it. They also became addicted to oxygen: they loved it, they were wild, so wild that they invented sex. They invented it to get rid of the aggressiveness of oxygen on DNA, but also for the simple fact that they could, on a whim. After sex, we already know, nothing was the same.



3044064 28 Shortlisted Life On Mars Iv By Charlotte Greenwood
CREDIT: Charlotte Greenwood
Life On Mars IV
By Charlotte Greenwood, UK

Crystalotype, cameraless photograph.

This piece is from Crystalotypes, an ongoing series of handmade negatives created using solutions of various substances. Each piece allows viewers to perceive the incredible intricate details within crystalline structures that are usually invisible to the naked eye.

3044253 29 Shortlisted Skeleton Leaves By Julia Briggs
CREDIT: Skeleton Leaves By Julia Briggs
Skeleton Leaves
By Julia Briggs, UK

Skeleton leaves showing the intricate patterns of the veins from the leaves. I've always been fascinated by skeleton leaves, just the fact that there is the most beautiful lace like pattern underneath the leaves' surface hidden from our view.

3044063 30 Shortlisted Oculus By Charlotte Greenwood
CREDIT: Charlotte Greenwood
Charlotte Greenwood, UK

“Oculus”. Cliché-verre, cameraless photograph.

This piece is from the ongoing series Cliché-Verres in Colour, which is a result of me searching for ways of working from home throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Each piece documents my investigation into fluid dynamics and how traditional art supplies interact with household substances.

3044256 31 Shortlisted Primordial Desert Seeds By Heather Sprague
CREDIT: Heather Sprague
Primordial Desert Seeds
By Heather Sprague, USA

This is a fractal of a Yucca schidigera. Some of my work centers around the possibilities in quantum physics and consciousness. I generate these images from my actual photos, to show the beauty of sacred geometry, and another potential reality invisible to us by any other means.

3044126 32 Shortlisted Sweetpotato Bug By Thin Thin Tun
CREDIT: Thin Thin Tun
Sweetpotato Bug
By Thin Thin Tun, Singapore

The photo describes the parents love to their children.

3044221 33 Shortlisted The Alien By Amrutha V M
CREDIT: Amrutha V M
The Alien
By Amrutha V M, India

This is a reverse macro shot of a bark mantis, which displays its intricate details, along with its ocelli or the photoreceptors of the organism which help these organisms to react to light at all conditions. The compound eyes are also clearly visible, which is another interesting in feature in many insects. This was shot with a canon EOS 1000d and a 50mm lens reversed.

3044230 34 Shortlisted 2022 Chrpe Uwf Fundal By Amanda Rebbechi
CREDIT: Amanda Rebbechi
2022 Chrpe Uwf Fundal
By Amanda Rebbechi, Australia

Congenital hypertrophy of retinal pigment epithelium (CHRPE), usually benign, pigmented lesion.

Taken on Zeiss Clarus700 retinal, ultra-wide field camera, two photographs montaged 200x133 degree view of right fundus, showing healthy macular, optic disc and CHRPE.

Colour Fundus ­photo, Red free (lesion boundary) and Red version (choroidal layer) to aid diagnosis.

3044065 36 Shortlisted Robot Delivery Service By Lorraine Wales
CREDIT: Lorraine Wales
Robot Delivery Service
By Lorraine Wales, UK

The Robot delivery service are available from my local supermarkets. A new era in shopping. Download the App and monitor their progress. Science meets Technology and supporting change in our shopping Habits.

3044167 37 Shortlisted Mineral By Mo Langmuir
CREDIT: Mo Langmuir
By Mo Langmuir, UK

These aerial photographs were taken with a giant helium balloon attached to 1000 ft of string, developed by Public Lab out of the 2010 BP oil spill. Animal and Mineral represent a collaboration with the elements, capturing a moment-in-time of two coastal sites that have been dramatically re-drawn.

3044040 39 Shortlisted Wistman S Wood By Rebecka Wolfe
CREDIT: Rebecka Wolfe
Wistman's Wood
By Rebecka Wolfe, UK

Taken in the eerily silent glades of Dartmoor's Wistman's Wood, this image showcases the growth of epiphytes on a scrub oak (Quercus petraea). These epiphytes include polypody ferns (Polypodium vulgare) and horsehair lichens (Bryoria capillaris) and indicate the presence of a rare temperate rainforest - few remain in Britain.

3044177 40 Shortlisted Right Eye Ffa By Hollie Pain
CREDIT: Hollie Pain
Right Eye FFA
By Hollie Pain, UK

Early stage of a right eye Fundus Fluorescein Angiogram (FFA), a diagnostic technique involving injecting fluorescein dye intravenously in order to examine blood flow. This image demonstrates how branch retinal vein occlusion presents in a FFA.

3044275 41 Shortlisted Neurochemistry And Hierarchical Structures In Nature By Chi Chi Cheng
CREDIT: Chi Chi Cheng
Neurochemistry And Hierarchical Structures In Nature
By Chi Chi Cheng, Hong Kong

The natural instinct to escape confined environment and migrate through different hierarchical structures for survival can be observed in both human and animals. Lobsters exist in hierarchies just like human. They are believed to possess a nervous system attuned to status linked to serotonin which regulates the display of their aggression. Can neurochemistry explain the organisation of a human society and our behaviour in different hierarchical structures?

3044194 42 Shortlisted Tabulate Coral By Christine Fitzgerald
CREDIT: Christine Fitzgerald
Tabulate Coral
By Christine Fitzgerald, Canada

This is a photo created from a transversal-section of an extinct Tabulate Coral from Anticosti Island (Québec), CANADA. The coral is from the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction on earth approximately 450million years ago.

3044173 43 Shortlisted Susanna In A Spacesuit By Alice Chapman
CREDIT: Alice Chapman
Susanna In A Spacesuit
By Alice Chapman, UK

Susanna wears a dress-up spacesuit, looking up at the sky. Less than a quarter of STEM professionals are women. The gender gap starts in school. Closing the gap requires a focus on girls in STEM, including positive role models: girls need to be able to see themselves in STEM.

RPS WSPoTY Judging Panel

Kym Cox ARPS

My practice combines emerging and established research and art symbolism to provide pertinent photographs that will inspire and/or support the work of others.  As a former forensic scientist, (I was a fingerprint expert) I get a real buzz from the detail.

Yas Crawford ARPS, FGS

Yas Crawford is an internationally awarded Art Photographer who has exhibited in the UK and Europe. Crawford was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales where the landscape and biological make-up have subliminally influenced her artwork and she now works in ‘The Grey Space’ in-between disciplines.


Gigi has been a professional photographer for over 30 years.  She is a Fellow and Accredited Senior Imaging Scientist of the Royal Photographic Society; a Fellow of the BioCommunications Association (BCA) in the USA, and of the Australian Institute of Medical & Biological Illustration.

Teri Walker WIP CHAIR

I took over as the Chair of the RPS Women in Photography group in October, 2021. We are building our programmes and exploring new projects that our Members can participate in while also trying to encourage others to join up. It’s an amazing opportunity to meet so many talented women from all walks of life.

If you are not already a WIP member, it might be advantageous to join and benefit from reduced ticket prices and our free member-only events.

RPS Women in Photography | Join Women in Photography (£10 pa)