Human lung drawn with Pseudomonas fluorescens bacterium by WCVM masters student Dongyun Jung.

WCVM graduate student’s agar art among finalists

Dongyun Jung, a graduate student at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), has had his bacterial artwork selected as a finalist in the Agar Art 2018 competition.

By Harrison Brooks

Hosted by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the competition features artwork created by researchers from 22 different countries. Each entry is drawn with bacteria on an agar plate.

Jung’s entry, titled “Shine On,” depicts a human lung and was chosen as one of the top 47 out of 156 entries. He created the image from Pseudomonas fluorescens, a bacterium that’s commonly found in soil and water. Jung isolated P. fluorescens from a sample of imported frozen okra. The title of his work pays tribute to one of Jung’s favourite bands Pink Floyd and plays on the name of their song, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”

Because Pseudomonas are connected with pneumonia, Jung thought it would be a good idea to draw a human lung with the bacterium. During incubation the bacterium grew well and kept the shape of his drawing. After incubation, Jung put his artwork under a UV light which made the bacterium fluorescent and gave the lung image its bright blue colour on top of the dark blue background of the petri dish.

Jung, who is from Daejeon, South Korea, is a Master of Science student under the supervision of Dr. Joe Rubin in the WCVM’s Department of Veterinary Microbiology. Jung’s research focuses on the identification and characterization of antimicrobial resistant pathogens from imported food products.

A panel of judges from universities across the United States will select the top three pieces based on creativity, originality, presentation and accuracy of description. The winning entries will receive Amazon gift cards and cash credit from the ASM.

Submissions need to follow a few guidelines requiring them to be original as well as digitally untouched and created in a safe way. Each piece must also be “accompanied by a description that captures key features of the piece in language appropriate for a general audience.”

You can vote for Jung’s work for the People’s Choice award on the Agar Art 2018 Facebook page by liking his image. The People’s Choice winner is the person whose entry receives the most “likes.” Besides the title, the winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card and $50 of ASM credit. Voting ends May 15 and the winner will be announced on May 23.