November 22, 2008

Finally! The Vomeronasal System as Interpretive Dance

Ricky Jay wrote his book Learned Pigs (see previous blog entry) at UCLA. According to a New Yorker profile, Thomas Wright, (a professor of literature and librarian), tried to persuade Jay to apply for a postdoctoral research fellowship.

When Jay explained that he didn’t have a doctorate, Wright said, “Maybe a master’s degree would be sufficient.”

“Thomas, I don’t even have a B.A.” [said Jay.]

Wright replied, “Well, you know, Ricky, a Ph.D. is just a sign of docility.”

Add to that flexibility now that Science magazine has solicited videos for its “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest. The idea was for researchers to “interpret their Ph.D. research in dance form.” Here's a non-winning entry that's still among the best submissions. (Keep in mind that “best” is a limited word in this context.) For example, here's Wendy Grus's take on her thesis:Evolution of the vomeronasal system viewed through system-specific genes."

If you insist on seeing a winner, Vince LiCata, a biochemist at Louisiana State University, took the “Professors” category with this take on "Resolving Pathways of Functional Coupling in Human Hemoglobin Using Quantitative Low Temperature Isoelectric Focusing of Asymmetric Mutant Hybrids."

The four dancers are “representing the interaction of pairs of hemoglobin molecules." Wondering why Old Man Winter runs in to pour Styrofoam frost on someone? Muscle up and read the thesis. How hard could it be?

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