Science’s annual Ph.D. dance contest will go on, with new COVID-19 category


Have you, even with COVID-19, been contemplating a chemistry cha-cha? Or started to plan a physics polka before the pandemic? For you and others, we’re delighted to announce that Science’s annual Dance Your Ph.D. competition will go on—and hopefully provide a joyful diversion during these trying times. As usual, we’re challenging scientists to explain their research with fancy footwork but no PowerPoint slides or jargon. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting your Ph.D. or you completed it decades ago; you just need to be able to keep a beat.

Now sponsored by the artificial intelligence company Primer, the contest is entering its 13th year. This year, category winners—physics, biology, chemistry, and social science—can take home $750 and the top dance will earn glory and an extra $2000. In a new twist, we’ve added a bonus $500 category on COVID-19. This pandemic has shown the challenges and importance of clearly communicating science, so we’re inviting dances on research that helps us understand any aspect of COVID-19 and its consequences to health and society. This category is not limited to people who study the disease.

Amid the pandemic, Science is urging participants to be safe and sensible. The dances should not feature large numbers of people in close contact, and we encourage the outdoors as a venue. We hope all science Ph.D. students, and everyone else, are taking the coronavirus seriously, and for this contest we’re establishing criteria to promote safety. You must follow all your local COVID-19 rules. Even if masks or other personal protective equipment are not mandated locally, we encourage their use during the preparation of your dance and during the dance itself. Moreover, the contest judges will be instructed to favor solo dances or dances in which participants are clearly following social distance best practices. Some past contest winners involved many dancers, but this year, entrants should find creative ways to do more with fewer.

Beyond that, it’s simple. Go dance your science, create a video of it, and upload it to YouTube. The deadline for submissions is 29 January 2021.

To enter the contest, submit here. The winner will be announced in the spring.

Good luck, stay safe, and enjoy!


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