Microscopy is a valuable science, but also an art. Davidson knew this, which is why many of his images have been displayed in public galleries and museum shows. He also helped to develop microscopy as an appreciated art with the public. The two main microscopy competitions, Nikon Small World and Olympus BioScapes are a direct result of Davidson's passion for the beauty of microscopy as an exciting an visually stimulating look at the dynamic micro-scale world around us.
Moving slightly away from the hard-science of biological microscopy, Molecular Expressions provides an interesting view into the not-necessarily-biological world around us. With polarization microscopy images of beer and fragrances, Molecular Expressions helps us to realize there is microscopic beauty in the synthetic, as well as natural.
Michael Davidson Fluorescent Protein Collection at Addgene
This last resource is the most incredible in my opinion simply because of how useful it is for a scientist in my position. A few years ago Michael Davidson with a team of 1350 scientists from more than 275 institutions put together a catalog of over 3300 plasmids encoding for a huge array of fluorescent fusion proteins and empty backbones. The result is the Michael Davidson Fluorescent Protein Collection at Addgene. The collection is unbelievably extensive, with plasmids organized and individually searchable by spectrum, and with many proteins having a dominant-negative mutation to jump-start the viability of a study. On top of that, most of the plasmids have a datasheet with specific nucleotide compositions, spectra and example micrographs of protein localization. The collection is truly jaw-dropping in magnitude and will certainly serve as a long-lived reminder to the efforts of Davidson and his colleagues.
I want to close with one of my favorite images on Davidson's MicroscopyU, a HeLa cell stained with markers for peroxisomes, mitochondria and nuclear DNA:
Why a HeLa cell? Because of all of the numerous and varied cell lines used in research labs, HeLa are probably the most broadly recognizable due in major part to a recent popular book discussing its history. But even though HeLa cells are so well known and easily recognizable, I find it interesting that it would take the effort of such a disproportionately important scientist and unsung hero of microscopy such as Michael Davidson to reveal its beauty in a way that many people, including scientists, could not have expected.