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Dance Your Ph.D. Finalists Announced!

7 November 2013 8:45 am
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Dance Your Ph.D./Science

Dance Your Ph.D. winners were announced in the 2013 competition.

Explaining science isn’t easy. Sometimes it helps to show a colorful graph of data. Sometimes a microscope image does the trick. And sometimes there’s just nothing better than a woman in a giant plastic ball being chased by nearly naked men on a lake. That is what Cedric Tan, a Ph.D. student at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, used to explain his research on sperm competition in the red jungle fowl.

Tan’s bizarre and beautiful video is one of the 12 finalists in the 2013 “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest. This is the 6th year of the contest, which challenges scientists to explain their doctoral research through the medium of interpretive dance. The finalists were selected from 31 dance submissions by the winners from previous years of the contest. The production value has increased considerably from the live Ph.D. dance event that launched the contest in 2007. The goal is to do away with jargon -- indeed, to do away with spoken words altogether -- and use human bodies to convey the essence of scientific research.

The final judging is under way by a panel of scientists and artists. But we want to know what you think. Vote for your favorite among the Ph.D. dances below.

The winners will be announced 21 November.


Explaining science isn’t easy. Sometimes it helps to show a colorful graph of data. Sometimes a microscope image does the trick. And sometimes there’s just nothing better than a woman in a giant plastic ball being chased by nearly naked men on a lake. That is what Cedric Tan, a Ph.D. student at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, used to explain his research on sperm competition in the red jungle fowl.

Tan’s bizarre and beautiful video is one of the 12 finalists in the 2013 “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest. This is the 6th year of the contest, which challenges scientists to explain their doctoral research through the medium of interpretive dance. The finalists were selected from 31 dance submissions by the winners from previous years of the contest. The production value has increased considerably from the live Ph.D. dance event that launched the contest in 2007. The goal is to do away with jargon -- indeed, to do away with spoken words altogether -- and use human bodies to convey the essence of scientific research.

The final judging is under way by a panel of scientists and artists. But we want to know what you think. Vote for your favorite among the Ph.D. dances below.

The winners will be announced 21 November.

  • Biology

    1.) Sperm competition between brothers and female choice

    Cedric Kai Wei Tan

    Females of the red jungle fowl mate with multiple males, including brothers. Everyone wants to fertilize the egg. Competition ensues! Read More

  • Biology

    2.) Identifying Novel Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Neural Control of Food Intake and its Interaction with Chronic Stress

    Wesley van Oeffelen

    Mood and vulnerability to addiction are tightly intertwined. Some mechanism in the brain links them. Figure that out and you can save millions of lives from ruin. Read More

  • Biology

    3.) Understanding the Role of MYCN in Neuroblastoma using a Systems Biology Approach

    Andres Florez

    Cancer is a terribly complex disease, with countless interacting systems of genes. Systems biology to the rescue! Read More

  • Chemistry

    4.) Focal adhesion kinase as a cellular transducer

    Jing Zhou

    The cells in your body are sensing their environment through signal transduction. Using atomic force microscopy, we can actually listen in on how they do it. Read More

  • Chemistry

    5.) Biophysical characterization of transmembrane peptides using Fluorescence

    Ambalika Khadria

    How can you tell if two proteins are linked together in a membrane? There is a neat trick involving blue fluorescence … Read More

  • Chemistry

    6.) Small molecule inhibitors for the Ash1L histone methyltransferase*

    David Rogawski

    The genome is more than genes. It also has an epigenetic layer of chemical modifications. But how can we map those out? Read More

  • Physics

    7.) Generation and Manipulation of multiphoton quantum states of light

    Chiara Vitelli

    Schrödinger’s cat was a thought experiment. But by entangling photons, now we can really test whether the cat is alive or dead (or neither)! Read More

  • Physics

    8.) The Search for Gravitational Waves from the Coalescence of Black Hole Binary Systems in Data from the LIGO and Virgo Detectors

    Kari Alison Hodge

    Black holes are awesomely powerful. What happens when they collide? Read More

  • Physics

    9.) Multi-Axial Fatigue for Predicting Life of Mechanical Components

    Tim Hunter

    Metal gets fatigued and eventually bends and breaks. Simple, right? No; it's way more complex than you might think. Read More

  • Social Science

    10.) Sleep loss in a social world

    Tina Sundelin

    You need your sleep. Going without it hurts you in more ways than just your energy levels. Read More

  • Social Science

    11.) Motility and Relational Mobility of the Baka in North-Eastern Gabon

    Doerte Weig

    How are human beings moving their bodies differently as we transition away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle? Read More

  • Social Science

    12.) Investigation of the behavioral processes and neurobiological substrates involved in the motivation for voluntary wheel running in the rat

    Julia Basso

    Give rats a wheel. What motivates them to use it? Why not just relax? Read More

*Correction (11 November): The title for David Rogawski’s dance has been corrected. Sorry, David!