Here are All the Winners of This Year's Dance Your PhD Contest

By Jennifer Ouellette on at

Science and interpretive dance met once again this year, as PhD students around the world took to the stage to bring their research to vivid life in the annual Dance Your PhD contest.

Social scientist Florence Metz, a PhD student from the University of Bern in Switzerland, beat out 31 other teams to take the top prize for her choreographed interpretation of her thesis in water protection policy design, entitled, “Do policy networks matter to explain policy design?” (see above).

Judges were charmed by how she represented different interest groups through different styles of dance (hip-hop, salsa, acro-yoga). She also won for her category, social science — the first time the field has taken the top prize in the contest’s eight-year history. As for the other category winners, John Bohannon writes in Science:

For biology, Pearl Lee brought her ballet skills to bear on her Ph.D. research on tropoelastin—the precursor protein that builds connective tissue—at the University of Sydney in Australia. For the winner of the physics prize, Merritt Moore, a Ph.D. student at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, it was tango, which she used to explain her research on entangled photons. (Get it?)

Perhaps the most elaborate of the dances, certainly in terms of costumes, came from the chemistry winner Jyaysi Desai, a Ph.D. student at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany. She used dance elements from Bollywood to capture her research on the molecular nets of DNA and protein that white blood cells cast into infection sites to trap bacteria.

Feast your eyes on the glories of merging science and movement in the videos below. You can also check out some of the past winners here.


Pearl Lee, Ph.D. student, University of Sydney, Australia: “Cellular interactions with tropoelastin.”

Chemistry (also Audience Favourite)

Jyaysi Desai, Ph.D. student, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany: “Molecular mechanisms involved in neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation.”


Merritt Moore, Ph.D. student, University of Oxford, United Kingdom: “Exploring multi-photon states for quantum information applications.”

[Via Science/AAAS]

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