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Call for Entries! ASM's 2016 Agar Art Contest

Create a log phase masterpiece with your favorite microbes!

Submit a photo of your original, agar-based art, plus a short description of your piece that engages the general public, by Friday, May 6, 2016 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time. Anyone with an active American Society for Microbiology membership is eligible to enter. All winners will receive a free ASM book of their choosing. Winners and select runner-ups will be showcased online and in a gallery at the ASM Microbe 2016 meeting in Boston, MA. The 1st place winner will also receive $85 towards the purchase of Michele Banks’ scientific artwork. For full contest guidelines and terms and conditions, see below.

Need inspiration? See our press release announcing the Agar Art 2015 winners.


Deadline: May 6, 2016 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time


  • 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 or shape petri dish, but must be at its "core" an organism(s) plated on agar.
  • Descriptions (200 words or less of your original work) should aim to capture the attention of a general public audience, as well as explain key 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 at least 8" x 10" at 300 dpi or higher resolution, but should be less than 10 Mb. If your image does not meet these requirements, your submission will be considered incomplete until you provide an image that meets these specifications. 
  • 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.




Featured in the

Agar Art Gallery

at Microbe 2016

ASM book

worth up to

Michele Banks'

Art Store credit

1st place ✔️ $200 $85
2nd place ✔️ $150  
3rd place ✔️ $100  
People’s Choice ✔️ $50  


How to Submit

Submit a photograph and description of your "agar art" along with all participant information at https://asm.submittable.com/submit/53272. Only complete submissions received through this site by 11:59 pm ET on May 6, 2016 will be considered. 

Judging Criteria

Michele Banks
Watercolor and Collage Artist

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

Jamie Henzy
Postdoctoral Fellow and part-time faculty at Boston College, and Associate Blogger at Small Things Considered

Judges will select single 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners based on the following criteria:

  • creativity/originality
  • 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 on ASM’s Facebook site. Online voting will open to the public on May 11, 2016. One "People's Choice" winner will be selected based on highest number of likes obtained by May 26, 2016 5:00 ET.

Prize Dissemination

Winners will be announced and notified on June 16, 2016 during ASM Microbe 2016.

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.

Additional participants whose artwork will be featured in the Microbe 2016 Agar Art Gallery will be notified via e-mail prior to the 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 open to groups of participants limited to 5 participants. Only the submitter must meet the eligibility requirements.

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 2016.

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.

Questions? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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