Announcing the 2013 'Dance Your Ph.D.' Contest

John is a Science contributing correspondent.

Every scientific field has its great explainers. Biology had Stephen Jay Gould. Physics had Richard Feynman. Chemistry had Tom Lehrer. All of them were great scientific minds who also had a gift for communication. They not only made complex scientific concepts graspable to a layperson, they also made them beautiful, funny, and awe-inspiring. But could they explain science through dance?

For the past 5 years, Science has sponsored "Dance Your Ph.D.," an international competition to see which scientists can best explain their graduate work through interpretive dance. The rules are simple. Create a dance that is inspired by your Ph.D. research. (It doesn't matter if you're a Ph.D. student now or if you finished your Ph.D. 50 years ago.) It can be solo, duet, or your whole lab group. (The author of the Ph.D. thesis must be part of it.) Get that dance on video and send us the link. That's it!

** The deadline for submission is 1 October 2013 **

This is a science dance-off. The submitted dances will be broadly divided into PHYSICS, CHEMISTRY, BIOLOGY, and SOCIAL SCIENCES. The judges will choose the best from each, and those finalists will compete for the top prize.

You don't need to follow a specific dance style. Submissions have ranged from traditional Indian folk dance to hip hop and … fruit fly mating.

But to win the contest, your dance needs to pull off two tricks: It needs to be engaging art, and it has to help us understand the essence of the science behind your Ph.D. research.

Australians have dominated in recent years, with a physicist winning in 2011 for his stop-motion dance about titanium hips and a chemist in 2012 for his old-timey burlesque about aluminum crystals. Will 2013 see another winner from Down Under? Will the biologists and social scientists rise to the occasion?

Visit the contest website to learn all the details and officially enter. The competition is open to anyone in the sciences, broadly defined—all scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and historians of science are welcome.

Finalists in each of four categories win $500. The grand prize winner will receive an additional $500 plus another prize that has not yet been announced. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, get dancing!

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