Graduate Competition Details


Submission opens: November 20, 2018.

Submission deadline: January 22, 2019.

Announcement of the winners will occur at a reception on April 3, 2019.

Submission Form

Submit an entry.


Who can submit?

Entries must be submitted by graduate students who are registered during the Fall 2018 term and are in good academic standing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Each person may only submit one entry. Individual entries only please (no groups).

What should the image be?

The image submitted should represent your research either concretely or abstractly. You will also be submitting a narrative that articulates the connection between the image and your research. Your narrative should be written in a jargon-free manner that captures the attention and imagination of both specialists and general audiences. This is a great opportunity to talk about your work creatively and give people a behind-the-scenes look at the exciting research that occurs at Illinois!

The submission will be judged on three criteria:

  • Connection between image, text, and research
  • Originality
  • Visual Impact

The entrant must be principal creator of the image. Third party content can be used (for example, mixed with other content), but submitting a third party image unaltered is not permitted. Entrants are responsible for ensuring that any use of images or materials that are under copyright by a third party either falls under fair use or that relevant permissions have been sought, that no copyright has been infringed, and that any necessary release forms have been signed.

What is required for submission?

  • A title of less than 250 characters
  • A 100-200 word narrative that articulates the connection between the image and your research. Please proofread your narrative before submitting.
  • Images should be the best quality image that you can provide. Please make sure your image file meets the following requirements:
    • Maximum file size of 50 MB.
    • Minimum resolution of 300 ppi.
    • Image must be at least 10 inches on the longest end.
    • Image must be in TIFF, JPEG, or JPEG2 format.
    • If your file fails to meet these criteria, we will ask that the necessary changes be made before accepting and processing your submission.
    • Please keep in mind that the semi-finalists will be printed and mounted for display at the reception in the Spring, and may be used at other functions in print format. These are generally printed at approximately 40 x 28 inches with the abstract included.
  • You must agree to the following license agreement that allows the University to display and provide access to your image:
    • I grant the University of Illinois non-exclusive and royalty-free permission to use my image and accompanying text in their original forms and/or modified forms for the purpose of promoting the competition and the research taking place at Illinois, and I have the necessary rights, permissions, and/or licenses to grant Illinois these rights. I understand that this means that such materials, in their original forms and/or modified forms, may be incorporated in any and all media. If I wish to revoke permissions to use my image, I must do so in writing to the University Library. In addition, I agree to the license agreement for IDEALS so that my image can be displayed within IDEALS or other online medium. If you are the copyright owner, by accepting this license, you still retain copyright to your work and do not give up the right to submit the work to publishers or other repositories. The University will clearly identify your name(s) as the author(s) or copyright owner(s) of the submission as well as the name(s) of the copyright owner(s) if different from your name(s), include a statement of your copyright, and will not make any alteration, other than as allowed by this license, to your submission. By accepting this license, you acknowledge that you have read and agreed to the terms of this agreement and all related IDEALS and University policies.


A subset of submissions will be selected by judges as the semi-finalists. Of these, the following 4 awards will be given.

First prize: $500
Second prize: $300
Third prize: $200
Honorable mention: $100

Awards will be presented at a reception on April 3, 2019. Semi-finalists will also compete for a People’s Choice award ($100) which will be voted on by attendees of the reception.

Awards to graduate students will be dispersed as professional development travel funds through the student’s university account. Awards may be subject to tax withholding.

Submission Form

The form will be open for submissions on November 20, 2018.

Submit an entry.