PONDERFUL researcher scoops national photographic prize for ‘alien’ image

Jul 18, 2022

Congratulations to Julie Fahy, PhD student and assistant in the Aquatic Ecology group of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland in Geneva, for winning a prestigious national photographic prize for an image she captured while carrying out PONDERFUL fieldwork.

Julie’s photograph, Floating Saucer, won the Locations and Instruments category at the Scientific Image Competition of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Julie said: “Ponds host a rich biodiversity, yet they have been largely neglected by researchers and policy-makers. While they have the potential to deliver numerous ecosystem services, there is still a lot we don’t know about their functioning and the role they play in the carbon cycle. Wetlands trap carbon from the atmosphere but also release greenhouse gases, especially in the form of methane and CO2 bubbles escaping from the sediments. Our alien-looking chamber dubbed ‘floating saucer’ traps the pond’s greenhouse gas emissions as they reach the surface so that we can collect and analyse them.”

Commenting on Julie’s photograph, the judges said: “With good framing and interesting reflections on the water surface, the picture is reminiscent of renaissance painting. It offers a very honest and authentic documentation of fieldwork with a slightly humorous take. It reminds us that research – even on important issues such as climate change – feeds on ingenuity.”

Julie was interviewed about her award on Swiss National Television, allowing her to share her image and PONDERFUL with a national audience.