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People's Choice Voting for the Science in the Time of Covid Contest

As part of the 2021 EFRC-Hub-CMS-CCS Principal Investigators’ Meeting, the Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences (DOE BES) sponsored a Science in the Time of Covid Contest. Following the BES tradition, during each meeting there is an optional contest designed to educate, inspire, and entertain an intelligent but not expert audience about the extraordinary science, innovation, and people in the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC), Energy Innovation Hubs, and Computational Materials and Chemical Sciences (CMS/CCS) Projects. Since early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted all aspects of our lives, including how science is done. The Science in the Time of Covid Contest was an opportunity to capture with graphic art how the scientific endeavor has changed. The graphic art could be a cartoon, photograph, collage, drawing, or any other medium that can be displayed in a static image. 

The entry that received the most votes from the public between September 27 – October 15, 2021 received the "People's Choice Award" at the Principal Investigators' Meeting on October 18, 2021. 

IDREAM Shines a Long-Distance Light on Radioactive Waste Research

Teleworking from his home in Washington state, IDREAM EFRC postdoc Sebastian Mergelsberg operated the synchrotron’s robotic arm 2,000 miles away at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. By pivoting to the virtual use of technology during COVID-19 travel restrictions, IDREAM researchers...


This graphic vignette takes a journey exploring how the brain’s connectivity evolved into the miraculous thing that is intelligence. Facing the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, science and technology provided the means to overcome the lack of face-to-face human connections. At Q-MEEN-C...

Furthering Groundbreaking Research During a Pandemic

COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives in remarkably profound ways. Perhaps one of the most momentous changes has been in the way we conduct research and collaborate. This graphic is designed with that idea in mind, to inspire and remind us of the many hurdles we have faced and overcome in this...

Nevertheless she persisted (over Zoom)

QSQM postdoc Soyeun Kim discusses the photoemission measurement procedure at the University of Illinois as graduate student Nina Bielinski, Illinois PIs Fahad Mahmood and Peter Abbamonte, and SLAC PI Mariano Trigo Zoom in. Picture taken by undergraduate student Sahaj Patel (from a distance...

MXene Discovery During COVID-19 Pandemic

Pandemic has changed our daily lives in all aspects. University and scientific laboratories have not been an exemption to this. From complete shutdown in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to various limitations such as social distancing, wearing face masks and face shields (everyone knows...

Open Cell Walls of Communication

This graphic portrays a dozen images arrayed as in a Zoom screen, with green plant cell walls surrounding early career researchers in CLSF. The background of each ‘cell’ is an image taken from the research performed by the corresponding individual during the time of COVID, representing diverse...

Le Chatelier's Principle

We ideally research in a calm equilibrium state, which I imagine as a minima of free energy.  In the time of covid our environment is being volatilely perturbed and torn apart while we try to find equilibrium in the lab.  This work depicts a free energy graph shown in yellow with aspects of...

The Light in the Cast Shadow

Even through the darkest parts of the pandemic so far, the efforts of science continue. The image depicts a scientist bathed in blue light, working with a florescent material, and in the shadow of Covid-19 and rising case numbers (new cases graph is based on data from the New York Times). The...

Precocious polymers

Here is an image of a polynorbornene polymer functionalized with 12C-4 ether rings cast into a 90um tall microfluidic device. Both the top and bottom slide of the microfluidic device have a coating of silver creating a reflective cavity. As the solvent evaporates radially outward from the drop...

Synthesis and Characterization Science developed for Energy Storage has Broad Applicability Enabling Analysis of Virus Dispersion

Functionalized nanoparticles were synthesized to mimic the corona virus.  These were suspended in artificial saliva and dispersed by aerosol onto N95 face masks.  Synchrotron based x-ray fluorescence mapping effectively visualized the dispersion of the virus mimic on the masks.


The year of fogged glasses, recluse behavior, and zoom fatigue: a montage

We have all been challenged in different ways during the COVID pandemic. Whether we do experiments in the lab, work on our computers at home, or zoom with our research groups, we inevitably have lived through similar experiences. Capturing snapshots of our collective lives in a humorous manner...

Flowing towards the Exit

Like ions and water molecules in a CNT, we drift towards the exit of our one-dimensional COVID existence.


Muted, masked, cool, dazed, pondering, sterilized, laughing tears…, we all struggle to find our way through the nano-channels of our lives.

Meanwhile in the Lab...

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected how scientists conduct research and meet deadlines. This graphic offers a glimpse into how these roles have changed.

Innovation and Collaboration: Ultra Materials for a Resilient, Smart Electricity Grid

Since the center’s inception during Covid, ULTRA has worked to ensure the health and progress of our team and research. It has taken innovation and collaboration to navigate research and science through such unprecedented circumstances. With the support and connection of everyone, ULTRA has been...