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Reflections from “Dance your PhD”

by Guest Blogger Ipek Guler

In 2015, Ipek Guler submitted a video to the competition “Dance your  PhD” sponsored by Science/AAAS, organisation which each year encourages researchers to represent their work in the form of a dance.

You can check out her video below:

and read her reflections on the experience below:

How did you hear about the competition and why did you decide to enter?

I heard about the competition on John Bohannon’s TED talk where he gives a brilliant example of how to turn a presentation into a dance with a professional contemporary dance company. He talks about how the lasers cool down matter. Amazing! I think I had already decided to do it right at the beginning of the talk. As i do perform contemporary dancing as a semi-professional dancer, the idea was perfect for me.

Where  did you find the inspiration to translate biostatistical concepts into dance?

There are some inspiring sentences on the Dance Your PhD website: “So, what’s your Ph.D. research about?” You take a deep breath and launch into the explanation. People’s eyes begin to glaze over… At times like these, don’t you wish you could just turn to the nearest computer and show people an online video of your Ph.D. thesis interpreted in dance form?”

So this was my starting point. I was very excited to be able to explain my research to my friends, parents, relatives finally. The other good point was that I used it to introduce different concepts, feelings into my dance performances; this is what you are able to do in contemporary dancing that other forms of academic dissemination do not allow.

How  long did it  take you to finish  the video?

For a long time I had already been trying to summarise my PhD research to other people who have no idea about statistics. The process of translating it into dance helped me a lot for my future presentations and in my thesis.

The choreography took a few months to create in my mind. The next step was the rehearsal  with my dance group. It was the fastest and easiest process which took a few days because we used to create, dance and improvise together for years. Finally we shot the video in one day and had  lots of fun (we also added some of these moments at the end of the video. :))

Would you recommend it to other PhDs in Biostatistics?

I definitely recommend it to other researchers in Biostatistics who have just finished their PhD or are still PhD students. First of all you will able to resume your principal aim, the most important points of your PhD research, then you’ll have a great product to show when you are not able to explain to other people who have no idea what you are doing. Especially in biostatistics, people sometimes don’t understand what you’re really doing, so you have a brilliant option. Believe me, it works!

You can watch other Dance your PhD videos on mathematics here and  here, and some biomedical ones too here and here.

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