The winner of this year’s ‘Dance Your Ph.D.’ contest turned physics into art | Science


Pramodh Senarath Yapa

Scientific research study can be a lonesome pursuit. And for Pramodh Senarath Yapa, a physicist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, even the topic of his research study is lonesome: singleton electrons roaming through superconducting product. “Superconductivity relies on lone electrons pairing up when cooled below a certain temperature,” Yapa states. “Once I began to think of electrons as unsociable people who suddenly become joyful once paired up, imagining them as dancers was a no-brainer!”

6 weeks of choreographing and songwriting later on, Yapa scooped the 2018 “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest. The judges—a panel of world-renowned artists and researchers—selected Yapa’s swinging electron dance from 50 submissions based upon both creative and clinical benefits. He takes home $1000 and never-ceasing geek popularity.

“I remember hearing about Dance Your Ph.D. many years ago and being amazed at all the entries,” Yapa states. “This is definitely a longtime dream come true.” His research study, on the other hand, has actually developed from superconductivity—which he pursued at the University of Victoria in Canada, where he finished a master’s degree—to the physics of superfluids, the focus of his Ph.D. research study at the University of Alberta.

This is the 11th year of Dance Your Ph.D. hosted by Science and AAAS. The contest challenges researchers all over the world to describe their research study through the most jargon-free medium readily available: interpretive dance.

“Most people would not normally think of interpretive dance as a tool for scientific communication,” states artist Alexa Meade, one of the judges of the contest. “However, the body can express conceptual thoughts through movement in ways that words and data tables cannot. The results are both artfully poetic and scientifically profound.”

The 12 finalists were revealed on 4 February in each of the 4 broad classifications: biology, chemistry, physics, and social science. Yapa won both the physics classification and the total reward. “Using sweet partner dancing for the Cooper Pairs of shy electrons and aggressive metalheads as the spin impurities, Pramodh was able to create an intuitive visual representation for the nonlocal electrodynamics of superconductivity,” Meade states.

Below are the 4 winners chosen by the evaluating panel; one of them was likewise the audience preferred, figured out through an online vote.

Total winner and Physics classification

Pramodh Senarath Yapa, “Non-Local Electrodynamics of Superconducting Wires: Implications for Flux Noise and Inductance”

Winner, Biology classification and Audience Preferred

Olivia Gosseries, “Measuring consciousness after severe brain injury using brain stimulation”

Winner, Chemistry classification

Shari Finner, “Percolation Theory – Conducting Plastics”

Winner, Social Science classification

Roni Zohar, “Movements as a Door for Learning Physics Concepts – Integrating Embodied Pedagogy in Teaching”

The 2018 Dance Your Ph.D. judges:

John Bohannon, the creator of the “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest, is a previous contributing reporter for Science and still runs the contest on its behalf. He is now director of science at Guide, an expert system business headquartered in San Francisco, California.

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