HMRI Through the Lens Winner

Art and science unite through the lens

University of Newcastle research assistant Simone Stanger has won the 2013 HMRI Through the Lens photographic competition that aims to capture the stunning world of science under the microscope.

Simone’s stand-out entry, Firetrails, is part of her investigation into a unique gene known as SPIF (Sperm PKA Interacting Factor) that is thought to play a large role in male infertility.

Simone is working for Dr Shaun Roman in the Biotechnology lab which is part of the Priority Research Centre in Reproductive Science, headed by Laureate Professor John Aitken.

Her image is of a mouse testis under 100x magnification that has been stained with antibodies to different subunits of PKA, a primary protein involved with sperm motility and fertility.

When the subunits are present in the same place, a spectacular yellow fluorescence is detected (pictured above), proving that the two subunits are localised in the tail region of the sperm.

Simone predicted the reaction would happen but this experiment confirmed the co-localisation occurred in a whole testis as the sperm were developing.

“This supports our hypothesis that SPIF and PKA combined may play a key role in sperm function,” said Simone.

She said the competition has helped with her investigations into SPIF and that it was also a great experience.

“Once I had taken the image I thought it might be interesting enough to enter in this year’s competition. I was surprised and excited when I received the phone call to say that I had won, there were so many good entries I didn’t think I stood a chance,” she said.

“I found it to be a great experience and it got a lot of my friends and family interested in science,” she added.

The winner of the People’s Choice award went to Snowflake, contributed by Timothy Budden and Heather Murray from Dr Nikola Bowden’s melanoma research team.

Presentations will be awarded at a HMRI Open Day on September 26.

For more information and to view submissions from all the winners, visit the HMRI website.

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