Why Write Your Dissertation When You Can DANCE It? [Video]

by Amy Marcott on May 11, 2012 · 3 comments

in Arts, Learning, Modern Geekhood, Research, Science

Post-doc Stephen Steiner SM '06, PhD '12 dances his PhD thesis, “Carbon Nanotube Growth on Challenging Substrates: Applications for Carbon-Fiber Composites.

Post-doc Stephen Steiner SM ’06, PhD ’12 dances his PhD thesis, “Carbon Nanotube Growth on Challenging Substrates: Applications for Carbon-Fiber Composites. Watch below.

How many times as a PhD student did you wish you could just bust a move and show people what your research was about instead of launching into some boring elevator pitch?

What? Never? Well, maybe you should try it. Enter the Dance Your PhD Contest, open to anyone who has ever completed a science-related PhD or who is a student pursuing a PhD.

The contest is the brainchild of John Bohannon, a writer and visiting scientist at Harvard who seeks to make science more accessible. Watch a TedxBrussels Talk…er…Tedx Dance by Bohannon called Dance vs. PowerPoint, a Modest Proposal, in which he (with help from performers from the Black Label Movement) practices what he preaches.

The 2012 contest just opened up a few weeks ago. Each category winner—physics, chemistry, biology, and social sciences—receives $500 and recognition by Science magazine. Grand prize is $1K and free travel and accommodation to attend TEDxBrussels in November. Entries are due Oct. 1, 2012.

Videos are judged by a group of scientists and artists on scientific merit, artistic merit, and creative combination of the science and art. Dances have to convey something essential about one’s PhD research so that the judges “get it.”

If you need inspiration, check out last year’s videos. Two of the record 53 entries were created by MITers. Though they did not win prizes, they both deserve huge props for heeding the contest website’s advice: “You’re a scientist. With your superpowers comes the responsibility to communicate the thrill of science to the public. Yes, sometimes in dance form. So dance like you mean it.” Oh, they mean it. Enjoy. Both entered in the chemistry category.

Post-doc Stephen Steiner SM ’06, PhD ’12 dances his PhD thesis, “Carbon Nanotube Growth on Challenging Substrates: Applications for Carbon-Fiber Composites.” Learn more about his research.

Current student Hoda Eydgahi SM ’08 dances her thesis, “Development and Application of an MCMC Algorithm for Obtaining the Joint Parameter Distribution in Biochemical Networks.” Learn more about her research.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Yael E. Marshall May 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm

When MIT’s Modern choreography group Kinaesthetics Lab existed (~2002-2005) — Will Ouimet, Irit Rappley, and Anna Bergren choreographed/performed a piece depicting plate tectonics! (I was the production manager at the time) MIT even featured a preview of it on their homepage!

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Yael E. Marshall May 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

this was part of the MIT spotlight:
http://web.mit.edu/spotlight/kinaesthetics/

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James Crowson February 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Creative and thought provoking.

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