Tag Archives: John Bohannon

Highlighting the 2011 Dance Your Ph.D. contest

Science magazine (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS]) has been holding a Dance Your PhD contest since 2008* (as best I can determine from a Sept. 17, 2010 posting by Katherine for SciFri). In any case, this year they received a record number of entries (from an Oct. 14, 2011 posting by John Bohannon on Science Now),

Have you ever wondered what nanotube chemistry might look like as a dance? Or fruit fly sex? Or protein x-ray crystallography? Look no further. As part of the 2011 Dance Your Ph.D. contest, scientists who study those phenomena and more have converted their research into dance videos for your enjoyment and edification. And today the 16 finalists of this annual contest are revealed below.

A record 55 dances were created for this year’s contest, submitted by scientists around the globe, from the United States and Canada to Europe, India, and Australia. As the contest rules state, each dance must be based on the scientist’s own Ph.D. research thesis, and that scientist must participate in the dance. For many of the graduate students who danced, the research they depicted is still ongoing. For some of the older contestants, the project is a distant, perhaps harrowing memory from their early days in science. The dances are divided into four categories based on subject: physics, chemistry, biology, and social science. (The criteria for those categories are explained here.)

One of this year’s finalists is from the DeRosa lab at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Titled, “DNA Aptamers as a Tool for Studying Mental Health Disease.” Erin McConnell and her troop are featured in the video below,

DNA Aptamers as a Tool for Studying Mental Health Disease from Erin McConnell on Vimeo.

I haven’t had time to review the other finalists but given this one, I can hardly wait.

The DeRosa lab also had a finalist in last year’s Dance Your PhD contest. It’s not the only reason I contacted the lab’s leader, Maria DeRosa but it did add a piquant flavour to my interview with her, which I will be posting tomorrow (Oct. 25, 2011).

*ETA Oct 24, 2011 1500 hours: There is an Oct. 18, 2011 article by Bob Weber for the Globe and Mail newspaper about the Canadian finalists in the 2011 Dance Your PhD contest. The contest was informally created in 2007 according to its originator John Bohannon.