About The EMBO Journal Cover Contest

Each year in autumn, the editors of The EMBO Journal used to invite submissions to a contest to select the best cover images for the following year. 2014 saw the 10th annual competition of this kind (the final one), and as always, one winner was selected in each of the two categories:

Best Scientific Cover and Best Non-Scientific Cover.

The prizes for the two winners were free one-year print and online subscriptions to both The EMBO Journal and EMBO reports. Apart from that, there was fame and glory to be won, and the possibility that some of the images (whether they were the number one winner or not) might be printed on the journal’s cover page and be seen by thousands of fellow scientists worldwide.

And of course, the contest was meant to be fun for everybody involved... it was an amateur contest after all. We were amazed how much aesthetic and creative potential there was out there among our readers and authors (and their colleagues, friends and relatives). Have a look through our online archive and enjoy the many beautiful images that have graced the EMBO Journal front cover in recent years, many of which had originally been submitted to our Cover Contest.

This prize was awarded for the most captivating and thought-provoking contribution depicting a piece of molecular biology research. Images could be light or electron micrographs, 3D reconstructions or models of biological specimen or molecules, spectacular artefacts collected in the lab, original new views of lab equipment (but not of colleagues!), or other images that you people encountered in your research activity, and which they thought might appeal to other molecular biologists.

Here is a small thumbnail gallery of cover images selected from previous contests:


The award was given to the contributor of the most interesting and beautiful image that was made outside the lab. Contestants were invited to submit, for example, photos or artistic impressions of wildlife animals, plants or landscapes. The overriding theme was “Nature” at all scales and magnifications. In addition to photographs, people could also submit hand or computer-generated paintings or drawings (or photographs of other works of art) if they were related to a biological or molecular biological topic. The jury traditionally did not favour images depicting man-made objects (unless they were related to scientific work; see above) or persons.

Here is a small gallery of images successfully submitted to previous contests:


(Apologies to all whose images could not be included here. Have a look at our online archive for a more representative sample.)

  1. Submit