Last updated December 7, 2017 at 5:10 pm
What do you get when you combine polio, Ed Sheeran and Kuchipudi dance? Chandana Kolluru’s entry into the world’s best PhD competition, Dance Your PhD.
Returning in 2017 bigger, better and weirder than ever before, the worldwide competition challenges PhD students to explain their thesis using only interpretive dance. As well as presenting research in a way that might not make people’s eyes glaze over, it also answers the age-old question, “Can scientists dance?”
This year 53 scientists answered the call and submitted videos to the competition sponsored by the journal Science and its publisher AAAS, all vying for the $500 cash prize in each of physics, chemistry, biology and social sciences. The overall winner takes home and additional $500, and gets to present their video at the AAAS annual conference in 2018.
The major prize winners will be selected by a panel of renowned scientists and dancers, scoring the finalists on their artistic and scientific merits. However, everyone else also gets a say, with voting now open for the Audience Favourite award. You can vote for your pick of the 12 finalists on the Science website until midnight 30 October.
Dance Your PhD Finalists:
Romain Durand-de Cuttoli from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris combines experimental dance and Prince’s Purple Rain to illustrate his work on modifying the nicotine receptors in the brain to be able to turn them on or off using different coloured light.
Natália Oliveira from Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil will forever change how you see police forensics with development of a new biosensor probe to identify suspects based on body fluid samples. After this video, we really want to see CSI: Brazil.
Deepti Mathur from Columbia University uses classical and modern Indian dance to show the fate of tumour cells missing an important gene, and how drugs can interfere with these cancer cells.
Internal body clock controls our daily rhythms, and are controlled by activators and repressors generating a 24 hour rhythm. The working of circadian clock inside the cell is performed using Indian theatre theme by Vinodh Ilangovan from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry.
The Rubin lab from Stony Brook University take a different approach with their version of 90’s hip hop song “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch. They show that vibration discourages stems cells in the bone marrow from forming fat, and instead, encourages bone formation.
The entry from Chandana Kolluru (Georgia Tech) uses Kuchipudi dance to show her work developing a new vaccination for Polio, which uses a dissolvable patch covered in microneedles.
The complex balance between mussels and sea stars in tidepools is shown using swing dancing by Monica Moritsch from UC Santa Cruz. Sea stars keep mussel populations in check, but as they die off due to disease, mussels begin dominating the environment.
Judit Pétervári from the Queen Mary University of London explores what happens in people’s head while they are evaluating creative ideas. In her dance, usefulness and originality are struggling with each other to come up with a creative idea.
Ines Van keer of KU Leuven in Belgium examines the interactions between parents and their children with significant cognitive and motor developmental delay.
Trapeze, mathematics and black light combine to explain the physics of braids in this performance by Nancy Scherich from UC Santa Barbara.
In a ballet epic, Vanessa Smer Barreto from University of Edinburgh examines supernovae from the origins of the universe to search for dark matter.
Apurva Oza from Pierre and Marie Curie University has been working on new technology which could be sent to Jupiter’s moon Europa, to probe for oxygen levels which may support life.
We particularly enjoyed the entries from Natália Oliveira, Romain Durand-de Cuttoli and Nancy Scherich, but cast your vote for your favourite on the Science website.