Scientist at the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC) Dr. Povilas Šimonis participated in the international competition "Dance Your PhD" and became the overall and biology category winner.
Dr. P. Šimonis created a video depicting the "dance" of yeast cells. He presented his research and PhD thesis "Investigation of yeast cell responses to pulsed electric field treatment" in this original way.
What is the recipe for a playful award-winning video? Basically the same as a good pastry - you need to plan, use good quality ingredients and have the patience to wait for the yeast to do the main job.
Yeast is a single-celled fungus that powers baking and a host of other biological processes, behaves when pulsed with electricity. In his research, carried out at FTMC, Dr. P. Šimonis studied the response of yeast cells to a pulsed electric field. Exposure to a pulsed electric field can increase the permeability of various cell membranes (e.g., to introduce target compounds or cause leakage of intracellular components), deactivate them, or make them more efficient. Such research is important for the application of electroporation in the food industry and biotechnology.
Although he spends most of his time in the laboratory, Povilas is surrounded by artists in daily life. The idea for the video came when he sought creative ways to explain his thesis in a language that relatives could understand. "My parents are music teachers, my fiancée and brother are professional actors. And I have been interested in the arts since I was a child, played in the theatre for many years, so most of my friends are artists,“ Dr. P. Šimonis told the contest organizers. When asked about the first feeling when his friends and family saw the video, Povilas smiled: "It felt that I have finally defended my thesis“.
Dance Your PhD
is an international competition run by former "Science" correspondent John Bohannon since 2008. Researchers and doctoral students are encouraged to interpret their research in terms of dance and movement, not in complex scientific terms. The contest is divided into four categories: biology, chemistry, physics, and social sciences, and is judged by a panel of esteemed dancers, scientists, and artists. Each category winner receives a prize of $750, and the overall winner receives an additional $2,000.
FTMC scientist Dr. Povilas Šimonis won the biology category, in addition to the overall prize. "The strength of his video is delightful storytelling and attention to detail“, said judge Matt Kent. "The science enhances the dance, and the dance enhances the science," explained judge Emily Kent. And of course, each winner was a blast to watch, the judges say.
The video is a result of collaboration with the Kinetic Theater of Vilnius University (VU) and the team of the video agency "Turbo“. Dr. P. Šimonis himself is a member of the VU Kinetic Theater troupe.
Watch all the winners below.
Overall winner and biology category winner
Povilas Šimonis, "Investigation of yeast cell responses to pulsed electric field treatment."
Chemistry category winner
Mathilde Palmier, University of Bordeaux, "Understanding the ageing bone biology: focus on osteocytes."
Physics category winner
Xiahoan Wu, Harvard University, "Probing cosmic reionization using the Lyman-alpha forest and the cosmic microwave background"
Social sciences category winner
Senka Žižanović, University of Zagreb, "Active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching"