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Dancing for science: Annebelle Kok finalist of Dance Your PhD

Explaining your PhD research to others can be quite difficult, especially without talking! PhD student Annebelle Kok of the Institute of Biology Leiden was one of the finalists of the 'Dance Your PhD' competition of scientific journal Science. ‘You have to understand your own research well if you are to express it in dance.’

Explanation in dance

Dance is not the most obvious medium to talk about research,' says Kok. She has been dancing since she was twelve years old. Yet, the competition is not necessarily about who dances best. ‘It's mainly about creativity and your explanation, and whether you can convey your message.’ It is precisely this challenge that makes this competition so much fun, says Kok. ‘You have to have your own research very well in mind in order to be able to express it in dance. Scientific communication, therefore, helps you to better understand and structure your own research'. Kok was among the 12 finalists who were chosen from a total of 50 submitted films.

Underwater noise

Dance is not the most obvious medium to talk about research,' says Kok. She has been dancing since she was twelve years old. Yet, the competition is not necessarily about who dances best. ‘It's mainly about creativity and your explanation, and whether you can convey your message.’ It is precisely this challenge that makes this competition so much fun, says Kok. ‘You have to have your own research very well in mind in order to be able to express it in dance. Scientific communication, therefore, helps you to better understand and structure your own research'. Kok was among the 12 finalists who were chosen from a total of 50 submitted films.

The effects of noise on predator prey interactions in a marine ecosystem - Annebelle Kok

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Dancing on the beach

After Kok had thought up the scenes and choreography and everything had been rehearsed, she and her friends filmed the dance on the beach near Katwijk. 'It was a cold summer's day, so we drew a lot of attention in our dolphin and fish outfits', she laughs. The subsequent editing was quite a challenge: 'It turned out to be more work than just sticking the clips together. For the comprehension, it is very decisive when you cut exactly and also when the text appears on the screen. That was interesting to learn, and certainly useful for presentations in the future.' Kok will perhaps use the video as a layperson's talk in the defence of her thesis at the end of this year. It would be a bit too stressful to perform the dance live and in a fish costume,' she adds laughing.

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