The Gonzo Scientist

Calling All Dancing Scientists!

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Science  10 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5899, pp. 186
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5899.186b

John Bohannon

A series of reports on connections between science, culture, and the arts from Science Contributing Correspondent John Bohannon, who, in true gonzo style, will participate in the events he covers.

Dear Reader,

Are you the sort of scientist who taps her toes while working in the laboratory? Didn't I see you pirouette on your way to the fume hood? You look like you're crunching data over there on the computer, but you're actually browsing 1980s music videos on YouTube. In fact, doesn't your entire scientific career feel like one big dance, like Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring, the Village People doing YMCA, or maybe Michael Jackson dancing with zombies in Thriller, depending on your mood? If so, then your name is written all over this:

The 2009 AAAS Science Dance Contest

Taking science to the dance and back again

Submission deadline: 16 November 2008

Those who saw the results of the first-ever Dance Your Ph.D. contest know that the human body is an excellent medium for communicating science — perhaps not as data-rich as a peer-reviewed article but far more exciting. Since then, e-mails have poured in from scientists around the world asking how they can take part in the next event.

For this year's contest, the stage is much larger and the prize is far grander. Rather than a single event in a single place, the dance is global.

1. Make a video of your own Ph.D. dance.

2. Post the video on YouTube.

3. Not later than 23:00 EST 16 November 2008, e-mail your name, the title of your Ph.D. thesis, and the video URL link to: gonzo{at}

Once this information is posted on the Dance Contest home page, you are officially entered in the contest. On 17 November 2008, a total of four winners will be chosen from the following categories:

Graduate Student: Best among those currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program

Postdoc: Best among those who have a Ph.D. but not tenure

Professor: Best among those with Ph.D. and tenure

Popular Choice: The video with the highest YouTube view count by the deadline

The Prize: On 17 November 2008, you will provide a single peer-reviewed research article on which you are a co-author. (Graduate students who have not yet co-authored an article must choose one from their Ph.D. adviser.) You will be paired with a professional choreographer. Over the next couple of weeks (via e-mail and telephone), you must help your choreographer understand your article, its aims, the hypotheses it tests, and its big-picture context. Then the four choreographers will collaborate to create a single four-part dance based on the winning research articles. Finally, you will be an honored guest at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, where, on 13 February 2009, you will have front-row seats to the world debut of the output — THIS IS SCIENCE — a contemporary dance interpretation of contemporary scientific research. Accommodation in Chicago will be provided, and grants are available for travel expenses.

For full details of the contest, visit

Best of luck, and I look forward to seeing you in Chicago.

The Gonzo Scientist

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