What a great idea! Using dance to explain complex research. From Newsweek.
Every year since 2007, doctoral candidates have traded jargony text for tights, statistics for dance styles, and deductive reasoning for fancy footwork, all in an effort to translate their dissertations into a competitive dance-off.
The overall winner of the 2014 “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest, announced Monday, kicked it up a notch, using a flying trapeze to put her work as a doctoral biology student, “Alterations to plant-soil feedbacks after severe tornado disturbance,” into motion.
A New Orleans native, Uma Nagendra’s doctoral research at the University of Georgia was inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and looks at how the “natural world recovers from disasters,” according to the announcement in Science—which along with its publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and HighWire Press, sponsors the annual contest.
In her video, Nagendra and five fellow aerialists sport bright green tights as they represent seedlings, twisting and turning on ropes in an effort to show “how several different species of tree seedlings in the southern Appalachian Mountains interact with soil organisms—and how tornadoes might mix things up,” according to her description. The video depicts a tornado coming through an undisturbed forest, she explains, disrupting pathogens that accumulate in the soil near tree roots and altering the forest environment.
Nagendra’s video won the biology category as well as the overall 2014 title. Winners were also announced in physics, chemistry, and social science categories, as well as in an online audience vote.