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Call for Entries! ASM's 2015 Agar Art Contest

Submissions are now closed. Congratulations to the winners! For more information, see details below.

What microbial masterpieces can you create? 

Plate your artistry, creating a unique piece of agar art and then add a short description of your piece that engages a broad audience.

Anyone with an active ASM membership is eligible to compete. Winners will receive a free ASM book of their choosing (options here). First place will also receive $85 towards the purchase of Michele Banks' scientific artwork


Not enough culture for you?

Microbes After Hours will host a special Agar Art Gallery event this fall to showcase the winning artwork and a selection of the runners up.

How to Submit

  1. Login to MicrobeWorld and upload your image along with its description and tag it with agarart2015.
  2. Fill out and submit this form. Submissions without an accompanying form will not be considered. Be prepared to provide the MicrobeWorld link to your submission. 


  • The submission must be new, not seen/posted on the internet before or previously published elsewhere.
  • May be of any organism(s), with any type(s) of agar, on any size petri dish, but must be at its "core" an agar plate.
  • Descriptions (200 words or less of your original work) should aim to capture the attention of a general public audience as well as educate them on some features of your piece. (Click here for an example.)
  • Be as imaginative and creative as you like, but please also be safe. For more information, please consult ASM's Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories and the Appendix to the Guidelines.
  • Photos must be 300 dpi or higher resolution, but no larger than 10 Mb.
  • Minor editing of photos to improve clarity of the image is permitted, but other artificial enhancements or manipulations (e.g. false coloring) are not permitted. 


1st place will receive $85 credit towards a purchase from Michele Banks' Art Store.
1st, 2nd, 3rd place and People's Choice winners will receive their choice of an ASM book from the list provided here.

If your image is selected for display at our special Microbes After Hours Gallery Exhibition, you will also receive its high quality print afterwards. Number selected will depend on space.


Michele Banks
Watercolor and Collage Artist

Jamie Henzy
Postdoctoral Fellow at Boston College and Associate Blogger at Small Things Considered

Vincent Racaniello
Professor at Columbia University and Host of This Week in Virology (TWiV)

Dennis Bray
Professor at University of Cambridge

Sallie (Penny) Chisholm
Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Judging Criteria

    Judges will select single 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winners based on the following criteria:
  • creativity
  • design
  • presentation
  • scientific accuracy of description
  • appropriateness of description for a general audience

Online Voting

Submissions will be judged by the public via Facebook “likes” after being published in an Agar Art Contest 2015 album on ASM’s Facebook site. Online voting will open to the public on September 8th, 2015. One winner will be selected based on highest number of likes obtained by September 25th 5:00 EST.

Prize Dissemination

Winners will be announced and notified during the last week of September 2015.

Online store credit for Michele Banks' artwork will be delivered electronically within two weeks to the winner's supplied e-mail.

All winners will have 90 days from the date of notification to make their book selection known to ASM Communications by responding to the winner notification e-mail. Selections may only be from the given list of options. Once received, ASM will process the book order within two weeks.

Participants whose artwork will be featured at the Microbes After Hours Art Gallery Event will be notified via e-mail 6 weeks prior to the event. Prints of the featured pieces will be mailed out within 2 weeks following the art gallery event.

Terms and Conditions


The American Society of Microbiology will be subsequently abbreviated to ASM. Herein "work" refers to participants' contest submissions, including, but not limited to videos, photos, writing, artwork, and/or designs. "Participants" refers to all individuals involved in the creation of said work and "submitter" refers to the individual submitting said work on behalf of all participants to ASM. Submitter accepts the responsibilities detailed below on behalf of any and all additional, associated participants.


This contest is open to all ASM members. Current ASM staff are not eligible, though ASM volunteers, former ASM staff, and the friends and relatives of ASM staff are eligible if they meet the primary eligibility criteria specified above.

Participation in this contest is limited to single participants.

Multiple submissions by the same participants are permitted.

Submitters must be 18 years of age or older. As it is relevant to the contest rules specified above, the submitter must have prior permission from the appropriate legal guardians of any participant under 18 years of age (i.e. a minor) in order to submit work on behalf of said minor(s).

There is no entry fee for participation in the Agar Art Contest 2015.

Responsibilities of Participants

The submitter, on behalf of all associated participants, affirms that: (1) he/she has authority to submit said work for this contest; (2) the submitted work is the original creation of the participants, has not appeared anywhere else in any other form, and does not violate or infringe upon any copyright, trademark, privacy, or other proprietary rights of any entity or person; (3) the participants have secured any and all permissions and releases from any applicable third parties as required by law in the creation of the work and royalty-free, irrevocable, and perpetual transfer of said work to ASM; and (4) for any and all minors (persons under the age of 18 years old) permission for their participation in the creation of said work has been obtained from their legal guardian(s), prior to participation in creating said work and after disclosure of any and all risks involved.

The submitter, on behalf of all associated participants, hereby acknowledges and agrees that:

(1) each participant, including herself/himself has accepted full responsibility for submitting any necessary ethics-related report(s) to their employer, funding agency, and/or appropriate managing office and the responsibility of advising ASM if ASM is required to submit a report to any of these same entities;

(2) ASM has the right, but not the obligation, to monitor this contest to ensure compliance with all legal conditions and guidelines. Submitter agrees that the burden of determining the submitter's legal authority to use, display, submit, and transfer rights and/or ownership of said work and its components lies solely with the submitter, who also bears the sole liability for any damages related to infringement upon the aforementioned rights of any other entity or person;

(3) ASM and any relevant partners, affiliates, and sponsors are not liable for any and all costs, damages, claims, liabilities, or expenses of any sort associated with the creation and/or submission of said work, the acceptance and use of any prize awarded, or any public comments made by third parties about said work upon its public display;

(4) ASM is not responsible for any technical failures or problems of any kind associated with any mode of electronic submission used, nor for any delays, restrictions, or problems associated with postal delivery of said work;

(5) ASM is not responsible for any damages and/or alterations to said work resulting from the selected or required delivery method; and

(6) no component of said work is permitted to contain any language, imagery, or themes that are offensive, objectionable, discriminatory or threatening against any persons, or illegal.

Rights of ASM and Governing Law

ASM retains the right to alter, effectively immediately, any component of this contest at any time without prior notification, including, but not limited to suspending and/or prematurely terminating this contest prior to the close of the submission date. Should ASM decide to prematurely terminate this contest, any materials physically delivered to ASM will be returned to submitters, electronic submissions will be deleted, and all rights will revert back to the submitter and any and all additional participants.

All works and participants associated with any participant suspected or known to be in violation of the legal conditions and guidelines set forth in this contest will be disqualified at ASM's sole determination without the obligation of prior notification or means to appeal.

ASM retains the right to overrule or amend any decisions by non-ASM staff judges, without prior notification.

All ASM contests' legal conditions and guidelines are governed by the laws of the District of Columbia. Any claim, dispute, or suit arising from an ASM sponsored contest will be settled in this venue.

Void where prohibited by law.

Final Ownership of Work

Submitter, on behalf of all participants, hereby agrees to assign all right, title and interest and ownership of the work to ASM. Submitter affirms that he/she has the legal authority to do so.

Submitter hereby agrees on behalf of all associated participants that the names and/or biographical and demographic information of each associated participant, including the submitter, may be used by ASM without compensation, unless prohibited by law, for promotional purposes of this current and any future contests or similar contests, including, but not limited to, announcement of contest winners and advertisements. ASM agrees to request additional, subsequent permission for the use of any participant's likeness, image/photograph, and/or voice outside of any of these already provided as part of said work, in the event the need or desire arises.

Compensation and Prizes

Submitter acknowledges on behalf of all participants that participation in this contest is voluntary and that no participant will receive financial compensation of any type associated with this submission or from any use of the submission by ASM.

Prizes will be awarded to the submitter and/or any other parties specified in the individual contest language, if such language is present. Prizes are non-transferrable. Awardees are responsible for all federal, state, and local taxes, surcharges, and fees applicable to the prizes. Forfeited prizes, through awardee refusal or disqualification of participant(s)/associated work, must be returned to ASM within 90 ninety days of forfeiture, if dispatched. ASM may, at its sole discretion, decide to award said prizes to other parties entered in the same contest. ASM is not responsible for lost or stolen prizes.



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