31 PhD researchers put on their dancing shoes in a bid to win ‘Dance your PhD’ competition

A chemistry PhD student based in Germany has won this year’s international ‘Dance your PhD’ competition in the chemistry category.

Many a fledgling researcher has no doubt struggled to succinctly explain their PhD research to friends or family, but Science’s annual science communication contest gives them a rare opportunity – to let them describe it through the medium of interpretive dance.

Set up in 2008, the academic dance-off requires entrants to submit a dance video on YouTube, which can be entered into one of four categories: physics, chemistry, biology and the social sciences. The winner in each category receives $500 (£330) and the overall winner is awarded a further $500, along with a trip to Stanford University, US.

Jyaysi Desai, based at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, fought off five other competitors to win in the chemistry category, and she also won the audience favourite award too. Desai moved her way through the journey a particular set of white blood cells, neutrophils, takes to form net-like structures to contain and attack bacteria and control autoimmune diseases. 

Other entries in the chemistry section included a dance troupe explaining total organic synthesis and an energetic Charleston revealing the secrets of chiral space.