This embroidery by San Diego artist Patricia Pauchnick is a beautiful example of how medical imagery can be represented in an unconventional style.

Call for entries: “Art of the Immune System” Competition

The La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) invites San Diego County students grades 9-12 to enter the Art of the Immune System Student Competition.

LJI is a research institute in San Diego where creative researchers and staff come together to solve big problems in immune system research. Scientists here study diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola, type 1 diabetes, cancers, allergies and much more.

This art competition is a chance for local high school students to learn about immune system research and inspire others to see the beauty in science!

How the competition works:

The competition is open to any public high school student in San Diego County. Teachers can also sign up on behalf of a group of students. Entrants must fill out the online SIGN UP FORM

Scientist Q&As

This digital painting by German artist Ann Kiernan represents how the immune system is different between men and women.

To inspire your work, we have arranged a series of live Q&A sessions with researchers here at LJI. All sessions will be held via Zoom. Sessions will be recorded and made available to students who cannot attend a live Q&A. Teachers: please email madeline@lji.org to arrange a live Q&A for your classroom.

  • Thursday, Nov. 2, 3:30 PM: “Helping the immune system fight cancer” a Q&A with LJI Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Isaac F. López-Moyado
  • Monday, Nov. 8, 1:00 PM: “Immune cells vs. lung cancer” a Q&A with LJI Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. William Pandori
  • Monday, Nov. 15, 3:30 PM: “Curing heart disease” a Q&A with LJI Professor Dr. Klaus Ley
  • Monday, Dec. 6, 3:30 PM: “The science of diabetes” a Q&A with LJI Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Estefania Quesada Masachs
  • Monday, Jan. 24, 3:30 PM: “What I’ve learned about COVID-19” a Q&A with LJI Research Assistant Professor Dr. Daniela Weiskopf

Following the Q&As, students can create a work of art that represents any aspect of health or medical research. We welcome entries using any visual media, including digital art, sculpture and photography. Students may want to depict the immune cells discussed, the effects of a disease or even the scientific team involved in the research.

Competition Timeline:

This graphic by San Diego designer Lisa Huppert illustrates the concepts of immunology and scientific communication.

  • Competition opens: Oct. 1, 2021
  • Competition sign up closes: Jan. 1, 2022. This is the last day to send in your information and sign up for a scientist Q&A.
  • Entries due Feb. 15, 2022
  • Winners announced Feb. 28, 2022

Prizes:

All finalists will have their work showcased in a virtual gallery hosted by the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

The first, second and third place winners will have their work printed in LJI’s Immune Matters magazine, which reaches more than 8,000 households across the country. 

The first place winner will also receive an iPad and a one-year sponsorship from LJI to join The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, a global non-profit professional organization for all artists who work in the realm of visual science communication.

 

Sign up for the competition!

Entering the competition

Once you fill out the sign up form, we will reach out to make sure you have information on how to attend upcoming Q&A sessions. On Jan. 1, 2022, you will also be sent a form to officially enter your art piece. This entry form must be filled out before the competition deadline on Feb. 15, 2022.

In addition to entering an art piece, students will be asked to submit background information on their piece, including: the connection between the piece and science/health, why they choose their art medium, and what they learned about science during the process.

For teachers

Teachers may sign up for the competition on behalf of a group of students. LJI will then be in touch with information on how students can submit their art pieces.

Your students are welcome to attend our scientist Q&As independently or in an after-school session. You can also contact LJI Science Writer Madeline McCurry-Schmidt (madeline@lji.org) to make arrangements for a live Q&A session with your class. There are limited time slots for live Q&As, and it is first-come, first-serve.

Projects completed in class can be submitted to the competition. We ask that students submit individual projects, as we do not have a separate category for group projects.

Frequently asked questions

Art pieces will be judged by a panel of scientists and staff at La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

The judges assess the art on whether they find it visually intriguing, whether it shows artistic skill, and if there is a clear connection in the piece to health/medical research.

You will be emailed an official entry form on Jan. 1, 2022. You must submit your piece before the deadline on Feb. 15, 2022.

Yes, as long as the work was completed in the 2021-22 school year and there is a clear connection to health/science research.

No, only one piece is allowed per student.

No problem! Email madeline@lji.org by Feb. 1 to make arrangements to have your art piece picked up at your school. Your art piece will be returned to you by Apr. 1, 2022.

No, unfortunately we do not have a separate category for group projects.

Scientist Q&A sessions will be recorded and made available to any one who cannot attend them live. Attending a scientist Q&A is not a requirement for entering the competition; however, we strongly encourage all entrants to attend or view a Q&A. These sessions offer a unique look into medical research and can greatly inspire your work!

Past Winners

1st Prize


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Elzie-Joy Arinduque, West Hills High School
Digital painting.

2nd Prize


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Andrew Huynh, West Hills High School
Video entry.

3rd Prize


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Ariyah Mast, Patrick Henry High School
Hand-embroidered mask.

Honorable Mention


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“Start of an Allergic Reaction”
by Sophie Duan, Westview High School

Honorable Mention


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“How we fought before the pandemic”
by Alexa Aguilar, Granite Hills High School