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Information made beautiful


Each year, the National Science Foundation and Popular Science magazine team up to issue a challenge: Can people visualize a scientific idea, concept or story in an arresting way?

Stephanie Rozzo, a 2011 graduate of CSU Monterey Bay’s science illustration program, took the challenge last year, and it paid off. A panel of experts chose her illustration of the weedy seadragon life cycle as tops in the illustration category. (Other categories in the Vizzies Visualization Challenge include photography, posters and graphics, games and apps, and video – which cover just about every way to communicate science visually.) While a volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Rozzo helped clean the seahorse exhibit. Over time, she found herself enchanted by their colors and movements. The Monterey resident knew she had her next illustration subject when one male began carrying eggs (as males of the species do). She rendered a pair of seadragons – native Australian fish closely related to seahorses – in acrylic paint with their seaweed habitat in graphite. The work depicts the species’ life stages from embryonic fry through adulthood.

A team of experts at the NSF and Popular Science pared hundreds of submissions down to 50 finalists – 10 in each of the categories. From those 50, a panel of outside experts picked a winner in each category. The first-place honor included a prize of $2,500 and publication of her work in the March issue of Popular Science, on its website, and on the National Science Foundation website.

Published Feb. 25, 2016