Dance and Science Unite


If you think dance is only for fun, well, maybe it is.  But it also can be used as a way to implement science.  Stick with me here, as I reveal a brand new creative way to dance, dedicate yourself to science and get a Ph.D, all in “one fell swoop.”  It seems our ambitious director of Fordney Foundation, Marilyn Fordney, discovered an interesting article put out by the Smithsonian magazine and we think this whole concept will make you think, smile and appreciate the art of dance even more!

To try to help academics everywhere, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Carleton Now – Carleton University

launched the annual “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest. Now in it’s ninth year, the contest requires grad students translate their often complex research into a new format, giving them a different perspective on their work and a chance to communicate their findings with the public. It’s also fun.

The prizes: A cash prize goes to the best Ph.D. dance in each category:


The rules: 1. You must have a Ph.D., or be working on one as a Ph.D. student 2. Your Ph.D. must be in a science-related field 3. You must be part of the dance

These videos are inventive, compelling, creative and really make you think.  And here they are:

This year’s winner, biomedical engineering student Jacob Brubert of Cambridge University explained the intricacies of his research developing a new biocompatible artificial heart valve using a salsa dancing cow and pig, tap dancers, and funky surgeon, hula-hoops and overexcited polymers. The video took “some very willing friends” a few weekends to produce, but it earned Brubert $1,000 and a trip to Boston next year to present his video at the AAAS meeting. “My adviser thought I was crazy, but he was supportive,” Brubert, now at Oxford, says in the press release.

The winning entry in the biology category comes from Carla Brown at the University of Glasgow, who illustrates the development of antibiotic resistance using glitter-covered modern dancers to represent infectious bacteria engaging in dance fights with antibiotics not seen since the first Zoolander.

In the social sciences category, Margaret Danilovich of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine speeds up and slows down Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” as dancers progressively stiffen while popping and locking to show the effects of muscle loss during aging. Training caregivers to help their patients exercise, however, helps improve frailty and quality of life, the dance shows, resulting in a chair dance between a caregiver and an “elderly” patient at the end.

Read more: Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

Thought Of The Week:

Coming together is a beginning, Keeping together is progress, Working together is success  –  Henry Ford


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Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website