Winners - Physiology In Our Time 2016 photography competition

We are delighted to reveal the winners of our 2016 photography competition ‘Physiology In Our Time’.

The Society has long documented our Members, their labs, and their universities through the eye of the camera lens. Our current photography archive, housed in the Wellcome Collection, draws heavily on the extensive collection of portraits of Members taken by Harold Lewis and, more recently, by Martin Rosenberg, as well as labs and Society meetings. These fine images capture moments in time and showcase how our departments, workspaces, equipment, meetings and Members have changed over the years.

Taking inspiration from our archived images, we asked you to add to our outstanding collection and record present day physiologists in their working environment by entering our photography competition 'Physiology In Our Time'

In first place with his photograph Immersed Echocardiography is Richard Moon from Duke University.

Immersed Echocardiography

The experimental subject is performing exercise on a cycle ergometer while immersed to the neck in 20°C water. Systolic and diastolic properties of the left and right ventricles are being examined to provide insight into the mechanism of immersion pulmonary oedema. The echocardiographer is performing the exam using a sheathed probe. The subject is breathing from a circuit connected to a gas analyzer to measure ventilation and oxygen uptake. Lung carbon monoxide transfer factor (DLCO) and cardiac output are measured using a triple gas uptake technique (methane, acetylene, carbon monoxide). The research assistant is applying a tourniquet to the subject’s arm to facilitate a blood draw to measure hemoglobin and carboxyhaemoglobin for correction of DLCO. Because of the cold water the echocardiographer and research technician are both wearing wet suits.

In second place with her collection of photographs entitled KIND Scientist is Anne McArdle from The University of Liverpool

KIND Scientist!

These images were taken from an inspiring outreach and widening participation event, sponsored by The Physiological Society and led by Dr Caroline Staunton at the University of Liverpool. The event took place at KIND (previously known as Kids in Need and Distress), a local charity based in Liverpool. Since 1975, KIND have made a difference to the lives of thousands of disadvantaged children and families. Liverpool and greater Merseyside has some of the poorest, most deprived areas in the UK and too many children find themselves living in poverty and facing disadvantage on a daily basis. KIND believes that education is key to helping young people and their families overcome this. Stephen Yip, founder of KIND said: "Our children have had one of the best days of their lives. Working hands-on with the scientists from Liverpool University they have gained a real insight into what science is about”. 

In third place with his photograph Sleepy Muscles is James Betts from the University from Bath.

Sleepy Muscles

Much of what we know about human physiology comes from a single ‘snapshot’ measurement or paired pre- and post-tests to establish our acute response to a given stimulus. Such experiments are most often conducted in the morning to take advantage of the natural control (withdrawal) of diet and physical activity over the hours beforehand (i.e. while we sleep). However, our metabolic physiology during sleep per se is equally fascinating, with recent research extending our understanding of biological rhythms within the context of sequential meals and rest/activity patterns encompassing a full 24-h cycle. Pictured here is an example of one such study in which we sampled serial (4 hourly) skeletal muscle (vastus lateralis) biopsies from volunteers who kindly stayed with us in the laboratory for 37 consecutive hours under tightly controlled conditions. For example, energy requirements were met via constant (hourly) feedings proportionate to resting metabolic rate as measured by indirect calorimetry, whereas light exposure was carefully regulated to enable the novel study of nocturnal muscle metabolism during sleep (hence overnight biopsies were taken by torchlight whilst participants wore an eye-mask - although they were understandably woken briefly while the biopsy was obtained!)

The entries were judged by Members of our History and Archives Committee, Graham Dockray, David Miller and Bob Banks. The winners will be recognised with a cash prize with £300 awarded for Immersed Echocardiography, £100 for Kind Scientist, and £50 for Sleepy Muscles.

We are delighted by the great response to the competition and hope Members continue to help us document the changing landscape of physiology through photography. If you would like to contribute your photo's to the archive please email

You can find out more about The Society’s history here.