Creative physics rap on molecular clusters wins the Dance your Ph.D. contest

The newest winners of Science's annual Dance your Ph.D. contest are Jakub Kubečka, Ivo Neefjes and Vitus Besel, researchers studying atmospheric sciences at the University of Helsinki.

This year, the winner of the annual Dance your Ph.D. contest was a group of atmospheric scientists from the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research at the University of Helsinki. Jakub Kubečka, Ivo Neefjes and Vitus Besel brought their studies to life with trash-talking rap lyrics, endearingly crude dance moves, computer animation and drone video footage. The group also won the Physics category of the contest.

“To prepare for recording the lyrics, I was running with headphones playing the music at least 30 times per day for the whole month to get it into my blood. I think that I even dreamed about it. Throughout the whole process, we always stayed close to our main goal of showing non-scientific muggles that science can be fun, silly and exciting,” Kubečka recalls.

Covid restrictions taken into account

Beyond conveying research via dance, all Dance your Ph.D. contestants had to negotiate the pandemic, finding ways to produce their videos while honoring local COVID-19 restrictions.

“As we got closer to the filming days, the COVID situation in Finland got worse. More and more restrictions were being put into place, and it seemed that we might not get to film it. But in the end, we got the permission to film under strict rules. We adapted the video so we never had to be with more than two people, an actor and camera man, in a room indoors. A large part of the film also took place outside”, explained our genius atmospheric scientists.

The Dance your Ph.D. contest is organized annually by Science magazine. The contest covered four broad categories: biology, chemistry, physics, and social science. This is the 13th straight year of the contest.

Each category winner got $750. Our University of Helsinki trio pocketed an extra $2000 as overall winners.

Watch the winning video: Molecular Clusters

Additional information:

Jakub Kubečka
Tohtorikoulutettava, llmakehätieteiden keskus INAR, Helsingin yliopisto
jakub.kubecka@helsinki.fi

Watch the videos of the winners of the other categories: 

Biology: 
Julienne Fanon, University of Le Mans
Fragmentation of plastics: effect of the environment and the nature of the polymer on the size and the shape of generated fragments

Chemistry: 
Mikael Minier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 
Social Sciences:
Magdalena Dorner-Pau, University of Graz
 
COVID-19 research prize: 
Heather Masson-Forsythe, Oregon State University