Doctorates on the Dance Floor

Aaron Esser-Kahn's lab at the University of California, Berkeley looks like a good place to get down. The University of California, Berkeley graduate student was one of 36 scientists to enter the 2009 Dance Your Ph.D. contest. Esser-Kahn's hip-hop interpretation of his thesis on "Protein Cross-linked Hydrogels" didn't win, but it certainly gets C&ENtral's science's vote for best dance with an ice bucket.Winners are after the jump, along with some of our favorite chemistry-related grooves and one marine biology graduate student who was totally robbed. You can see all 36 entries here. Sue Lynn Lau, a student at Australia's Garvan Institute of Medical Research snagged the Graduate Student prize for interpreting her research on "The Role of Vitamin D in Beta Cell Function." Particularly impressive are the aerial acrobatic maneuvers Lau's colleague in the yellow shirt busts out toward the end of the dance. Miriam Sach, winner of the Postdoc Prize and currently a postdoc at the University of California, San Diego, leaps, tumbles, and rolls around the floor to illustrate her Ph.D. work on "Cerebral activation patterns induced by inflection of regular and irregular verbs with positron emission tomography. A comparison between single subject and group analysis." Vince LiCata, a biology professor at Louisiana State University, took home the Professor Prize for some rhythmic swaying with grad students. LiCata's Ph.D., which he earned in 1990, is titled ""Resolving Pathways of Functional Coupling in Human Hemoglobin Using Quantitative Low Temperature Isoelectric Focusing of Asymmetric Mutant Hybrids." The gloves and safety goggles are a nice touch. With more than 14,000 views, University of Illinois graduate student Markita Landry won the Popular Choice prize for a tango that depicts "Single Molecule Measurements of Protelomerase TelK-DNA Complexes." "Uneasy Alchemy: Citizens and Experts in Louisiana's Chemical Corridor Disputes" by Virginia Tech professor Barbara Allen "Properties of Hard, Nanolayered TiB2:CHx Low Friction Coatings" by Northwestern grad student Bo Zhao "Structural analysis of phosducin and its phosphorylation-regulated interaction with transducin beta-gamma" by Harvard University professor Rachelle Gaudet Although not chemistry-related, C&ENtral science would like to recognize the outstanding dance by University of South Florida graduate student Christin Murphy depicting "Hydrodynamic Trail Detection in Marine Organisms." Hula-hooping with fire! Hello, how did this not win?


  1. I appreciate the moves and all that but I’m glad this didn’t win the contest (although at the beginning of the movie I was quite hopeful).

    I physically cringe every time I see a chemist in the lab without wearing goggles. For me, and most chemists I would think, it’s second nature to put on your goggles as you are entering the lab and to not remove them until you leave. A winning video, which I assume will be proudly shown to many young scientists, should not trivialize lab safety.


  1. What The Heck Is Nano Anyway? at C&ENtral Science - [...] Dance Your Ph.D. contest may have ended, but there’s still plenty of ways to show the more creative side…