See the winners of ‘Dance Your Ph.D.’ this year’s contest | Sciences


Finnish scientists Vitus Besel, Ivo Neefjes, and Jakub Kubečka (left to right) created a rap video about groups of atmospheric molecules that was won by Dance Your Ph.D. of this year. competition.

Faustine Cros

By Sofia Moutinho

You may never look at clouds the same way again. A video created by three atmospheric science graduate students at the University of Helsinki features an original rap song and choreography that explains how groups of atoms come together to form the undulating shapes in our sky. And just won Sciences“Dance Your Ph.D.” annual contest.

It took 2 months of preparation and rehearsal for the “science group,” as the students call themselves, to finish the video. They used drones and green screen effects to show the molecules in the clouds spinning, colliding and sticking together, all while the scientists chanted. “Our main goal was to show non-scientific Muggles that science can be fun, silly and exciting,” says contest winner Jakub Kubečka, who was inspired to enter the contest after a friend was a finalist a few years ago. He then enlisted two colleagues to help him with the song, lyrics, and filming.

The Dance Your Ph.D. The contest has challenged scientists to explain their research through dance for 14 years. The contest is run by John Bohannon, a former correspondent for Sciences and now director of science for Primer, an artificial intelligence company that currently sponsors the tournament.

The COVID-19 pandemic made things more challenging this year. The Finnish group shot most of their video outdoors or in empty labs, for example, and the dancers performing the molecules were filmed individually in front of green screens.

But the restrictions did not dampen the enthusiasm of the students. His rap is full of sick burns like “I’m the first author, you just et al. “and his choreography was inspired both by Belgian artist Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and the comedy styles of subversive American comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim.

“Before filming, we had basically sat inside our own houses for 9 months, not socializing at all,” says co-creator Ivo Neefjes. “It was fun to meet again and work together on something.”

The group, which won both the physics category and the top prize, beat out 39 competitors for $ 2,000, and timeless geek fame. A panel of judges comprised of past winners and world-renowned artists and scientists searched for the best combinations of science and art.

“Some of the production levels are incredible, although that does not necessarily lead to better art or science communication through dance,” says the jury Carl Fink, director of the dance company Black Label Movement. “The videos that received my best marks did so because they achieved this fusion.”

The judges also selected the winners in the chemistry, biology and social sciences categories, who will receive $ 750 each. They also crowned the winner of a new category created this year, COVID-19, which comes with its own $ 500 prize.

The recipient of that honor is Heather Masson-Forsythe of Oregon State University, Corvallis. You are looking for new drugs that can block SARS-CoV-2 and stop viral replication. In her dance, she turns into the different proteins of the virus, spinning and moving erratically. He also wears a flaming red scarf to symbolize the genetic material of the virus.

The scientific dancer is not an amateur. He has been perfecting his dance moves since he was 10 years old. “I had to think about the movement of the proteins in this virus that I work with every day but can’t really see,” says Masson-Forsythe.

Here is the complete list of winners.

Overall winner and winner of the physics category

Jakub Kubečka, “Formation, structure and stability of atmospheric molecular clusters”

Chemistry Category Winner

Mikael Minier, “Diiron complexes with biomimetic carboxylate bridges: from the behavior of the solution to the modeling of the secondary coordination sphere”

Winner of the Social Sciences Category

Magdalena Dorner-Pau, “(Un) Playful Scribes: Examination of Performative Methods for Promoting Children’s Descriptive Abilities in Linguistically Diverse Elementary School Classes Using the Picture Description Example”

Biology Category Winner

Julienne Fanon, “Fragmentation of plastics: effect of the environment and the nature of the polymer on the size and shape of the fragments generated”

Winner of the COVID-19 category

Heather Masson-Forsythe, “Biochemical and Biophysical Studies of the COVID-19 Nucleocapsid Protein with RNA”

Judges for this year’s contest:

Renée jaworski

Matt Kent

Emily kent

Katrien Kolenberg

Andrea Grill

Alexa meade

Carl Flink

Weidong yang

Daiane Lopes da Silva

The Semantic Scholar team at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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