School of Medicine PhD candidate explains her thesis—through dance

Ever tried reading a thesis—especially one in a subject area unknown to you? If so, you may have been left confused, overwhelmed or maybe even a little bored. If not, those are probably some of the exact reasons you’ve never taken on the task in the first place. To help overcome this, one School of Medicine post-doctoral candidate has put her thesis’s words to music—and dance.

Olivia Corradin, a researcher in the Department of Genetics, choreographed a video for the prestigious journal Science’s “Dance Your PhD” contest, which encourages scientists to explain their graduate work through interpretive dance. About 15 members of assistant professors Peter Scacheri and Paul Tesar’s labs, including the professors themselves, worked for four weeks to create the eight-minute video.

Through interpretive and well-choreographed dance moves, along with a pop music soundtrack, Corradin and her dancers explain her research on colon cancer and epigenetics, the way DNA are organized in a cell, which determines whether or not a gene will be expressed.

The contest perfectly meshed Corradin’s interests: her research, which she studies in Scachari’s lab, and her love for dance, which she’s been teaching since the age of 12 (also about the age she realized she wanted to be a scientist). “I’ve always tried to mix my love for science and dance,” she said. “This contest is the perfect way to do so.”

Finalists in each of four categories—physics, chemistry, biology and social sciences—win $500, while the grand-prize winner receives an additional $500 and a trip to Belgium to attend TEDxBrussels. Though the contest isn’t a popular vote, Corradin believes a video with a high number of views will catch the judges’ eyes.

Want to help out, or simply want to watch the dance moves in action? Visit today and “like” the submission. Judges will decide the winners Oct. 15.