Joel Miller, a biomedical engineer at The University of Western Australia has won top prize in the Science’s 4th annual “Dance Your PhD” contest with his footloose video rendition of his thesis topic: Microstructure-Property relationships in Ti2448 components produced by Selective Laser Melting: A Love Story.
The contest, open to all PhD students in a science-related field around the world, called for applicants to turn their PhD thesis into a dance. Dance categories included physics, chemistry, biology and social science.
Joel Miller’s dance, which is the winning entry for the physics category and overall contest, depicts his work with lasers to create titanium alloys strong and flexible enough for long-lasting hip replacements. “We didn’t have a video camera,” says Miller. So he and his friends shot a series of 2200 still photographs of the dance in action and then converted the photos into stop-motion animation. The technique sees Miller, donning silver spandex and a cape, appearing to fly over the ground as he dances with women representing titanium’s alpha and beta crystalline forms.
The PhD research of the other category winners made for equally - though very differently - compelling dances. Cedric Tan, a biologist at the University of Oxford, depicted the mating dance of the fruit fly literally, including the incestuous mating tendencies of brothers. FoSheng Hsu, a chemist at Cornell University, depicted one of the most complex laboratory techniques: protein X-ray crystallography. And Emma Ware, a biologist at Queen's University, Canada, performed the same series of experiments on human dancers as she does with courting pigeons.
Joel Miller has won a prize of $1000 and a free trip to Belgium to be crowned the winner at TEDxBrussels on 22 November.