Archive for November, 2008

Dance dance… evolution?

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Some things are really hard to understand. Like, how to resolve pathways of functional coupling in human hemoglobin—even if using quantitative low temperature isoelectric focusing of asymmetric mutant hybrids. So hard!

Fortunately, Dr. Vince LiCata, a researcher at Louisiana State University, has performed an interpretive dance on this very topic. In fact, Dr. LiCata has recently won the 2009 AAAS/Science “Dance Your PhD” Contest in the “professor” category. (There are also grad student, post-doc, and most-popular-on-YouTube categories.) Watch Dr. LiCata and his team perform the winning dance:

This is an extraordinary contest. Previous winners received a year’s subscription to Science. But this year the winners get something more:

Each [winner] will be paired with a professional choreographer. (A team of 4 choreographers in Chicago are ready and waiting.) Over the next couple of weeks (via email and telephone) you must help your choreographer understand your article, its aims, the hypotheses it tests, and its big-picture context. With that knowledge, the choreographers will collaborate with a group of professional dancers to create a 4-part dance based on the science behind the 4 winning research articles.

You will be honored guests at the 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago in February, [where] you will have front row seats to the world debut of “THIS IS SCIENCE”—the professional dance interpretation of your scientific research.

The mission of this contest is to bring scientists and artists together, and to engage the public with science. I’ve never heard of anything quite like it, at least not anything that is being developed from such grassroots origins—the intent is to produce a full theatrical run and world tour! Winners are expected to participate as “science diplomats,” bridging that perilous gap between basic science research and public interest and understanding. How fantastic! You can watch other dances, like creator John Bohannon’s interpretation of the role of the WSS operon in the adaptive evolution of experimental populations of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25, on the contest site or on YouTube.