UCSB Grad Student Wins Dance Your PhD Contest

UC Santa Barbara Ph.D. candidate Nancy Scherich has won the global “Dance Your Ph.D. ” contest.

If you’re not in the science or math fields, it can be challenging to understand someone’s doctoral thesis. For the scientist, they also have to be able to explain it outside the world of academia. For 10 years, Science Magazine and AAAS have challenged doctoral students to think outside the box and move their bodies to whatever scientific rhythm inspires them. 

The contest is open to anyone, as long as they’re a Ph.D. student and dancing in the video, it’s eligible for cash prizes and internet geekdom fame. Prizes are given out for the winner of each category (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Social Sciences) as well as the overall winner. 

This year, 53 scientists from around the world submitted dances, and UCSB student Scherich edged out the competition with her dance titled “Representations of the Braid Groups.” Her research is in topology, the study of geometry in which shape and size don’t matter. Her focus is on braid theory where she looks to find the rules that determine the unique representations of twists and knots in high-dimensional spaces. How does that translate into dance? With everything from hula hoops, aerial silk acrobatics, and neon glowing pop and locks. 

Watch the full interpretive dance video below:

Other researchers won in their scientific categories with dances portraying their studies on sea star ecology, psychology behind creativity, and the biochemistry of criminal forensics. The latter, created by Natália Oliveira at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, was also the winner of the online audience favorite award. All videos can be viewed at ScienceMag.org.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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