Matthew Palasciano, a geological oceanography undergraduate student, took first place in the Research & Scholarship Photo Contest co-sponsored by Rhode Island Sea Grant and the University of Rhode Island for “The Endless Bond Between Mother and Child,” a young macaque clinging to its mother at the local watering hole in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, where Palasciano was studying biodiversity, hydrology, and water resource management.

He and two other students studied deforestation and illegal logging to understand the destruction it imposes on wildlife and its habitat. Palasciano plans to pursue a master’s degree in coastal geology and business administration. He has his sights set on working in cultural resource management and as a professional shark diver in the Bahamas.

“We wanted to learn the severity that this destruction was imposing on wildlife and their habitat. Capturing this image of the mother looking off into the distance while her baby stared straight into the lens of my camera truly touched my heart and only makes me want to help in any way possible,” he said.  “The goal of this image to show others what I see when I look at this photo.”

President David M. Dooley presented the awards on April 23 at the Alumni Center lounge on Kington’s main campus.

“This contest, once again, demonstrates the global reach and talent of the URI community. The research depicted in these powerful images is diverse in topic and approach,” said URI President Dooley. “The photos over a glimpse into the kind of work that our students, faculty, and staff are doing here in Rhode Island and around the world.”

The contest drew over 120 submissions from the University of Rhode Island students showcasing photography, architectural renderings, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images, and other microscopic images of varied research from cancer cells and the Northern Lights to Cuban street musicians and volcanoes.

Second place went to All the Water Returns to Hall by Yeqiao Wang, professor of natural resources science. The photo shows a rural village home in southern China that is designed to collect rainwater from all directions through a rectangular opening in its sloped roof. The water is stored in a stone cellar underneath the central hall. This photograph showcases the wisdom of a sustainable rural routine presented by this hundred-year-old eco-friendly house.

This photo was taken during a field trip for a multi-volume book series, The Handbook of Natural Resources, in which over three hundred scholars and practitioners from URI and around the world are working together to develop.Woman collecting rain through a hole in a roof in rural village in southern China.

Third place went to “Raining Sparks” by Laird French, undergraduate marketing major and fine arts minor. This long-exposure photograph of burning steel wool being spun on a rope was taken using an 8-second shutter speed as part of a project for Photography 1 (ART 214). French plans to move to Hawaii and become a professional photographer/videographer after graduation.

Long exposure of spinning burning steel wool.


Three honorable mentions:

“Yellow Warbler at Nest”
Graduate student Stephen Brenner took this
photograph in Manitoba, Canada while monitoring the demographics, breeding success, and growth rates of long-distance migratory birds at the far northern reaches of their range in shifting habitats and climate for the McWilliams Lab in Biological and Environmental Sciences.





“Fungi Guttation”

Graduate student Riley Kirk, Ph.D. ’23, shows a frost bolete mushroom that is experiencing a rapid growth phase. The yellow droplets on the pores are not dew but the result of a process known as guttation, when a mushroom exudes fluid during high metabolic times. After this photo was taken in the Great Swamp Management Area in West Kingston, Rhode Island, the mushroom was collected and brought back to the laboratory for extraction and isolation experiments. 








“Reef Manta”

Jason Jaacks, assistant professor of journalism, shot this manta while free diving in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. The reef manta was cruising through a cloud of plankton. Jaacks, originally from Denver, Colorado, was working on a short film about sustainable fisheries practices in Indonesia, as part of a multi-year visual study of the biodiversity of the Coral Triangle region of the South Pacific.


“It was an honor to review the contest submissions again this year. As a URI alumnus and a current member of the URI Alumni Association Executive Board, I am impressed by the variety and quality of the student, staff, and faculty work represented in this contest,” said John J. Palumbo, one of the contest’s judges, a 1976 graduate of URI and publisher of Rhode Island Monthly magazine.

The other judges were Krisanne Murray, a 1995 graduate of URI and owner of Wakefield’s Designroom, a graphic design, photography, and web services firm; Samuel Morrissey, a 2011 graduate of URI and co-owner of Endeavor Studios, a photography and videography firm; Kim Robertson, assistant director of URI’s Department of Publications and Creative Services, and Nora Lewis, URI photographer.


Learn More

The contest was sponsored by URI’s three magazines, the University of Rhode Island Magazine, 41ºN, and Momentum: Research and Innovation.

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