Advertisement
NeuroScientistNews
NeuroScientistNews

PhDs (People Having Dance-offs)

They twirled and tangoed, somersaulted and flipped. Some interpreted their science through linkurl:hula-hoops;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Va4zcGyYs0 set ablaze, while linkurl:others;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zCBcghQ1rA used the beats of Notorious B.I.G. to guide their rhythmic undulations, pipette in hand. The American Association for the Advancement of Science crowned its newest linkurl:Dance Your PhD;http://gonzolabs.org/dance/ champs yesterday (Nov 20.): two graduate students, a po

By | November 21, 2008

They twirled and tangoed, somersaulted and flipped. Some interpreted their science through linkurl:hula-hoops;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Va4zcGyYs0 set ablaze, while linkurl:others;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zCBcghQ1rA used the beats of Notorious B.I.G. to guide their rhythmic undulations, pipette in hand. The American Association for the Advancement of Science crowned its newest linkurl:Dance Your PhD;http://gonzolabs.org/dance/ champs yesterday (Nov 20.): two graduate students, a postdoc, and a professor won the day. The second installment of the annual contest encouraged anyone current or former PhD students to linkurl:"dance it out";http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53180/ and post their gyrations on YouTube. More than a hundred scientists joined the fray and tens of thousands of viewers tuned in to the spectacle. Former scientist turned journalist John Bohannon of Science magazine says the idea for the contest came after countless observations of the dance floor at science conferences. "It can be painful at beginning. But then there's always that professor or crazy Russian postdoc who takes the floor, and suddenly everything just explodes," Bohannon told The Scientist. Bohannon said he was fed up with the stereotypes that "scientists can't dance" and are "a bunch of nerds." A dance competition, he thought, could prove the public wrong, and teach them a bit about science along the way. The idea was simple: participants, divided into categories of graduate students, postdocs and professors would bring their thesis research to life using only dance. "How else can you get researchers to be jargon-free but to have them cut language out completely?" Bohannon said. The first contest, which debuted at a conference in Vienna last year was a hit, Bohannon said. It wasn't the dance moves that surprised him, but the scientists' passion. "They threw themselves into it," he said. This year, instead of isolating the competition to a single conference or scaring off scientists afraid to perform in front of a live audience, Bohannon opened the contest to scientists around the world via the web. Participants could wear costumes or lab clothes, dance solo or in teams. Bohannon made only one rule: the author of the thesis work had to be the main dancer in the performance. A panel of nine judges, including the three award winners from last year's contest, judged the scientists on their scientific creativity, artistic creativity and idea translation. Postdoc winner Miriam Sach, now a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, told The Scientist she jumped at the chance to combine the two things she loves -- science and dance. "When you work in science, you are so detailed oriented, you have to sort it all out," Sach said. "With dance you have to assemble it back together to see the big picture." For her dance, Sach, a former PhD student at the University of Duesseldorf in Germany, linkurl:transformed herself;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRLoP3gOUM4 into a neuron responding to the two types of verbs -- steady walking (regular) and somersaults, jumps and handstands (irregular). In the end, as her thesis work showed with words and figures, Sach's movements became one, symbolizing the brain using the same neural network to ultimately process both types of verbs. "As I was dancing the symmetrical part, I really felt like the dance was about the science of life," Sach said. As scientists "we get so specialized, so ambitious, we sometimes forget what we're looking at is part of life. Dancing science is living science." linkurl:Vince LiCata,;http://www.biology.lsu.edu/labpages/licatalab/ a biochemist at Louisiana State University and winner of the professor category, took the linkurl:dance competition;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L1UJgYH6bU as a time to revisit his 1990 thesis work on hemoglobin protein dimer interaction. LiCata told The Scientist he sees the dance contest as one of many signs of a growing linkurl:acceptance;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/54730/ within the science community to bridge the sciences and arts. "Science is supposed to be fun," Harvard molecular biologist and dance contest judge linkurl:Richard Losick;http://golgi.harvard.edu/losick/ told The Scientist. So when he and the two other Harvard professors were tapped to judge this year's contest, he says he was delighted to see "passions that go into science conveyed by enthusiasm of the participants." The winners, who included University of Sydney linkurl:graduate student winner;http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=QiTFBRPFRh8 Sue Lynn Lau, and linkurl:popular choice winner;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-R6vcQBCNs Markita Landry, a graduate student at the University of Illinois, will now have the chance to watch their research performed by a group of professional dancers. Professional choreographers will work to turn each winner's research into a single dance number debuted live at the AAAS Annual Meeting in February.
Advertisement

Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

November 21, 2008

cool for scientists' participation\nscience and art both require passion and love \non this point, it will be a good way for phds to enjoy the life\n

Follow The Scientist

icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube
Advertisement

Stay Connected with The Scientist

  • icon-facebook The Scientist Magazine
  • icon-facebook The Scientist Careers
  • icon-facebook Neuroscience Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Genetic Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Cell Culture Techniques
  • icon-facebook Microbiology and Immunology
  • icon-facebook Cancer Research and Technology
  • icon-facebook Stem Cell and Regenerative Science
Advertisement
Advertisement
Life Technologies