Dance Your Ph.D. Finalists Announced; Pick Your Favorite

How would you explain your Ph.D. research to someone with no scientific background? Let’s say for example, your thesis is: "Odd-Z Transactinide Compound Nucleus Reactions Including the Discovery of 260Bh." Where would you even begin?

How about doing a hula hoop dance while being pelted with glowing balls? That was the solution discovered by Sarah Wilk, the author of the above chemistry Ph.D. thesis at the University of California, Berkeley. Her entry is one of the 12 finalists in the 2012 Dance Your Ph.D. contest. The other dances include techniques such as break dancing and burlesque.

This is the 5th year of the contest, sponsored by Science and AAAS (Science’s publisher). The aim is to challenge scientists to explain their research through dance, the most jargon-free medium available.

The scientists who submitted the 36 dances in this year’s contest hail from across the globe, from North America to Australia. The contest’s previous winners scored the dances' scientific and artistic creativity, determining the three best Ph.D. dances in each of the four broad categories: physics, chemistry, biology, and social sciences. Those 12 finalists will be scored this week by an independent panel of judges, including senior scientists, educators, and professional dancers.

The winners and the reader favorite—picked by you—will be announced on Monday, 15 October. But in the meantime, we would like to know what you think! Watch the videos below and vote for your favorite. Vote as often as you like, but only your latest pick will be counted.

  • Computational approaches in high-throughput proteomics data analysis

    Cancer is a disease that has become more and more difficult to understand as scientists realize how much there actually is to find out. Read more

    Anna-Maria Lahesmaa-Korpinen

  • Evolution of nanostructural architecture in 7000 series aluminium alloys during strengthening by age-hardening and severe plastic deformation

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness”—surely Charles Dickens was describing life as a Ph.D. student? Read more

    Peter Liddicoat

  • Multiactivity wear testing of total knee replacements

    The painful and debilitating effects of osteoarthritis in the knee can be remedied by replacing the damaged articulating surfaces of the knee with a total knee replacement. Read more

    Christopher Knowlton

  • Governance of natural resources and development of local economies in rural areas: the Social Network Analysis and other instruments for good governance indicators
    Social Science

    My Phd research tries to develop a methodology for the evaluation of good local governance of natural resources in rural areas, and in particular it focuses mainly on three aspects. Read more

    Riccardo Da Re

  • Seed dispersal and regeneration in a Tanzanian rain forest

    Many plants have complicated relationships with rodents- just think of squirrels and acorns. They collect acorns and bury them all over the place, intending to come back and eat them later. Read more

    Carrie Seltzer

  • Odd-Z transactinide compound nucleus reactions including the discovery of bohrium-260

    My PhD research was on studying pairs of heavy-element reactions to see if there was a better way to make these isotopes. By shooting an ion beam of a particular energy from an accelerator at a target and measuring the decays of the particular isotope. Read more

    Sarah Wilk

  • Deuterium retention in tungsten

    The sun creates a lot of energy by hydrogen fusion. Scientists are investigating fusion, building our own ‘sun on earth’, as a sustainable energy source on earth. Read more

    Rianne 't Hoen

  • Using convolution kernels for machine learning
    Social Science

    In this dance presentation we are explaining the idea of how machines learn from data. For example, how would a machine learn to answer a Jeopardy! question? Read more

    Apoorv Agarwal

  • Spastic cocontraction in spastic paresis: biomechanical and physiological characterization

    We imagined the situation of the people with stroke, who cannot move their limbs properly because of overactivity in antagonistic muscles (spastic cocontraction) whenever they try to command their agonists. Read more

    Maria Vinti

  • Side reactions in lithium-ion batteries

    Side reactions in lithium-ion batteries are a major problem for battery safety and lifetime. My research tries to determine what these side reactions are and how to control them. Read more

    Maureen Tang

  • Cutting sequences on veech surfaces

    In the first minute of this video, the dancer (Libby) shows how two pentagons are glued together to make a surface. This is the key idea of the video -- the explaining of science, wordlessly, through dance.  Read more

    Diana Davis

  • The influence of emotions onto dynamic managerial capabilities
    Social Science

    The concept of Dynamic Capabilities originates in the Resource Based View of a firm. Resource based approach is relatively static and cannot fully explain. Read more

    Yevgen Bogodistov