Competition highlights student photography – Murray State News

Ava Chuppe
Staff Writer
[email protected]
The Images of Research Competition, an interdisciplinary contest organized by the Office of Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) for Fall Scholars Week, is underway for the second year.
Dana Thompson, assistant professor of University Libraries, said she came across the idea for the contest and initiated it last year with the help of ORCA Project Coordinator AJ Boston. A panel of professors from various fields judged the competition.
Thompson said the competition demonstrates how images are created in different fields and across different disciplines.
“Images convey information that text cannot,” Thompson said. “This competition provides students with the opportunity to communicate about their research in a different and more illustrative way, and perhaps in a way they had not previously considered.”
“Shed” by Archie Hardesty, 2nd place
Undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of majors took part in last year’s competition. Photograph submissions ranged from informative to creative. Each participant submitted up to three photos and a brief explanation of how the image related to the student’s overall research.
Melanie Brandon, graduate student of agriculture, took first place in last year’s competition with her entry, “Adult Dirofilaria immitis in Canis Iatrans.” According to Brandon’s explanation, the photograph shows the contents of a coyote’s heart. This proved coyotes can carry Dirofilaria immitis, or canine heartworms.
Brandon said the photograph only represented a piece of her research.
“Being the only carcasses at the time, it did not help us understand the prevalence of heartworms within the coyote population throughout the state,” Brandon said. “Later on, it, along with 13 other positive cases, shed some light on the regional prevalence of the canine heartworm in Kentucky.”
“Shed,” a self-portrait photograph by undergraduate graphic design student Archie Hardesty, earned second place in the competition. Hardesty explained the photo represented a personal struggle with gender identity.
“Finding the balance between femininity and masculinity with the need to shed this skin society has shoved onto me,” Hardesty said. “Though I have broken through some layers, I still have a long way to go.”
TV Production major Jayla Louis’ submission “Sweet Creature” took third place. The submission, named after a Harry Styles song, featured an array of toys and other objects at a picnic.
“Pretty Little Liability” by Hannah Daab, Honorable Mention
“The stuff I used is all very old and most of the toys used are ones I played with during my childhood, so these pictures are very nostalgic for me,” Louis said.
A total of 83 students entered last year’s competition. According to the published list of winners in the ORCA student journal, Steeplechase, this made a “difficult” decision between submissions that were “engaging, visually stimulating and an excellent representation of the research going on at Murray State University.”
A full list of last year’s winners and honorable mentions can be found at
Thompson expressed anticipation for this year’s competition.
“Last year, we had winning entries from art, business and science majors, so anything is possible,” Thompson said.
This year’s Images of Research Competition will be on display in the gallery of Waterfield Library from Nov. 15-19.
For a full schedule of events for Fall Scholars Week, visit
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