Research as Art 2013 - winners announced

A comic strip explaining the wonders of X-ray scanning and 3D printing, demonstrated by printing a perfect replica of a Kinder Surprise toy but without breaking the egg, has won the 2013 Research as Art competition.

Research as Art winner 2013 - Kinder egg xray
The only competition of its kind, 'Research as Art' is open to researchers from all subjects, with an emphasis on telling the research story, as well as providing a striking image.

Entries came from researchers in many different subjects, with titles such as:

• New tools from insect poo
• Older people on the move
• Resisting temptation
• Medieval disfigurement - a graphic guide
• Finding needles in four-dimensional haystacks


See 2013's winning images and narratives

The judging panel was drawn from eminent UK organisations including the Royal Institution – where last year’s winners were displayed – the Royal Academy of Arts, Research Councils UK, and the NewScientist.

The overall winner, entitled 'Project Surprise', was submitted by Laura North, a postgraduate student in engineering.  

Her comic strip uses a Kinder Surprise egg to show new technologies such as non-destructive testing and rapid prototyping using 3D printing, enabling the hidden internal world to be scanned and reproduced.

Laura North said:  

"Each individual image captures a stage of the project.  The concept has many applications, from collaborating with Egyptology to identify mummified snake remains, to modern medicine, and perfectly-fitting joint replacements."

Dr Gail Cardew, Director of Science and Education at the Royal Institution, and one of the judges, said:

"This entry took a complex idea and demonstrated quite simply how it would work, through comic strip form.  An abstract area such as this would be difficult to communicate, but the researcher chose a very novel way of approaching it." 


See 2013's winning images and narratives

Research as Art 2013 Leifa Jenningsresearch as art - Menna price



Flora Graham, digital editor of NewScientist.com, another of the judges, said:

"Research is more than the hard facts that make it into the papers and journals - the Research as Art competition reveals the day-to-day human experience that lies beneath the results.  The winning entries combine pictures and words to give a glimpse into the beauty, variety and complexity that researchers discover during the process of working."

Dr Richard Johnston, from the College of Engineering at Swansea University, who organises the competition, said:

"Images and stimulating abstracts are a great way of showing the public the wonder of research that goes on in our University. It’s an opportunity for researchers to engage, inform, and inspire people. It’s exciting to make your research accessible, to bring it to the largest audience possible, and for them to be excited too."  ‌

Research as Art 2013 Ed Bennettresearch as Art 2013 - Adrian LuckmanResearch as Art Matt Carnie


Research as Art is organised by Swansea University Research Forum, and supported by the Bridging the Gaps programme.

About the winning image:

Laura North’s explanation, accompanying her winning image, is as follows:

"The comic strip depicts the process of using both non-destructive testing and rapid prototyping techniques to replicate a toy found in a Kinder Surprise chocolate egg.  Each individual image captures a specific and important stage of Project Surprise; all of which are performed during day-to-day activities in the lab. The comic strip was designed to mirror the project, which began as a fun experiment for Easter, and also to allow the method to be accessible to a wider audience.

It may seem silly and insignificant to wish to replicate a toy from inside a Kinder Surprise without damaging the egg at all.  However, the concept has many other exciting and broad applications. These range from collaborating with the Egyptology department in identifying and reproducing mummified snake remains, to the concept being utilised in modern medicine, with perfectly fitting joint replacements."

Judging panel:

  • Dr. Gail Cardew – Director of Science and Education at the Royal Institution, Vice-President of Euroscience, Wellcome Collection Advisory Panel, EPSRC Peer Review College
  • Flora Graham – Deputy Editor of NewScientist.com, also worked for BBC, CBC and CNET UK as a writer/broadcaster
  • Kathleen Soriano – Director of Exhibitions, Royal Academy of the Arts
  • Prof. Noel Thompson – Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at Swansea University, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Prof. John Womersley – Research Councils UK Executive Board, RCUK Champion for Public Engagement with Research, and Chief Executive Officer of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)


See 2013's winning images and narratives

2012 winning images and narratives