Australian Scientist Wins ‘Dance Your Ph.D’ Contest

BY Jenny Marder  October 17, 2012 at 4:50 PM EST

A new “Dance Your PhD” contest winner has been announced, and it involves juggling, shuffling bodies and burlesque-style dancing behind rainbow-colored umbrellas.

This year’s winner is Peter Liddicoat, a materials scientist at the University of Sydney in Australia. His thesis — the inspiration for his dance — is called “Evolution of nanostructural architecture in 7000 series aluminium alloys during strengthening by age-hardening and severe plastic deformation.”

The contest was conceived by molecular biologist-turned-science journalist John Bohannon five years ago as a way to encourage scientists to communicate more fluently and playfully about their PhD research. (See the story we did on the contest last year.)

The years since have seen an outpouring of submissions — proof again that scientists are a goofy and creative tribe. Past contest winners pared the 36 dances submitted down to 12 finalists, which were scored by a panel of judges that included scientists, educators, and dancers, Bohannon writes. More on the contest here.