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  • Writer's pictureSonia Estima

Can you Dance your PhD?

Announcing the 11th annual Dance Your Ph.D. Contest!

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Science Magazine, are launching their 11th annual “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest. They challenge scientists to explain their research without PowerPoint slides or jargon—in fact with no talking at all. The dissertation should be explained through dance!

It can be very difficult to explain your research to friends and acquaintances who do not work in the same field. So, why not try to explain it through different means, such as dance?

Here is a video of one of the finalists from 2017: " The Sea Star's Lament: Intertidal Community Consequences of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome:

Why would any scientist want to enter the contest? Probably not for the $1000 prize…

Some previous contestants have achieved “Geek Fame.”

Here is what some of them had to say:

"The ultimate point of my research was expressed more clearly in two and half minutes of dance than hundreds of pages of text." (Keith Massey)

"I was awarded a scholarship some time after the '09 competition. When they wrote me to inform me that I was given the scholarship, they ended with 'ps: I liked your lobster dance.' I had never mentioned to them anything about the contest or my entry, but they must have dug it up.” (Christin Murphy)

“Doing this project was a way to clarify my thoughts on my project and determine what were the key pieces of information that formed the story I was interested in. I think it's really easy to get lost in literature reviews and statistical analysis as a PhD student and lose focus on what you are actually studying and why it is important. Trying to tell a story with movement was a way to reexamine my work, ..." (Genevieve Metson)

"I've already informed my grad students that they will be required to do this as a condition of their doctorate. My new grad student apparently watched as a way of vetting me as a potential advisor. (I apparently passed.) My family has watched it but they still don't know what I do." (Adam Burgasser)

And if you think the idea has merit, then you may wish to watch this fascinating TED Talk/Dance, by the contest founder, John Bohannon, explaining his own work through dance and introducing the idea behind the contest: “A Modest Proposal”

How about you? Can you dance your dissertation?

You can find more information here: Dance your PhD Contest.

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