Stanford student photographs showcase the beauty and diversity of the world

A snapshot of a shrub growing amidst the smooth sand dunes of the Gobi Desert – where signs of life are largely absent – is the winner of the 2020 Stanford Global Studies Student Photo Contest.

Serena Zhang's winning photograph
Serena Zhang’s winning photograph, Life, Rooted

Captured by international relations major SERENA ZHANG when she was interning in China one summer, the winning image, Life, Rooted, inspires a feeling of hope during a period of great uncertainty. “It shows that, above all odds, life can and will prevail,” said Zhang.

The annual contest, which is open to undergraduate and graduate students affiliated with Stanford Global Studies’ 14 centers and programs, received more than 140 entries this year. The photos, taken by students who traveled across the globe for research, language study and internships, were submitted into multiple categories, including animals, natural world, people, photojournalism and travel.

Zhang also took home prizes for her photo of a caravan of camels transporting selfie-taking passengers across the desert and an image of a bus driving through the “Fire Mountains” in China’s Zhangye National Park.

The other winning photographs featured unique subjects in countries around the world, including

• Elderly women deep in thought in Ixtenco, Tlaxcala, taken by MARIANNA FENZI, a visiting scholar at the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, while conducting research in Mexico
• Rock climbing in Tonsai Bay, Thailand, taken by comparative studies in race and ethnicity junior ANNA GREENE while completing a fellowship in Southeast Asia
• Yazidi women in the Sinjar region of Iraq, taken by history graduate student MÉLISANDE GENAT, while doing fieldwork for her dissertation
• Portrait of a young black woman in Windhover, Stanford’s contemplation center, taken by computer science junior ARAFAT MOHAMMED as part of a project to “highlight the beauty and style of black women in a society that often overlooks it”

All of the winning photographs can be seen on the Stanford Arts website.