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Oxford student wins ‘Dance you PhD’ award

An Oxford student has won Science magazine’s annual ‘Dance your PhD’ competition.

Dr Cedric Tan, from the University of Oxford’s zoology department, submitted a dance that reflected his research on animal reproduction.

Tan stated, “There were two main ideas in this film. First, a male invests more sperm in the females that have mated with his brother. Second, the female ejects a higher proportion of sperm from the brother of the first male mate and favours the sperm of the non-brother, facilitating a higher fertility by the non-brother’s sperm.”

The video features people dressed up as sperm chasing an inflatable “egg” in the water, and artistic interpretations of chickens reproducing.

On why he was inspired to enter, Tan told Cherwell, “I love the arts, especially music and dance, and ‘Dance your PhD’ is one competition that allows me to combine my passion for the arts with my interest in Science. Further, I strongly believe in promoting research to the wider audience, in both a fun and easy-to-understand manner, and thus providing insights into the scientific concepts that people may not be aware of.”

He further stated that he enjoyed making the video, commenting “Six weeks of tough work together with all my friends was stressful, challenging, but extremely delightful to have gotten such an amazingly enthusiastic crew! Once filming was over, and the tiredness took over, we, however, felt sad that it was all over.

I recalled those times at the lake when we were filming the stripping scenes, we ran to the end of the jetty, stripped our tops off and put them back again just to repeat the shot. That certainly gained a lot of popularity as a crowd of people gathered to watch, and took videos of us, an amused expression on their faces, secretly hoping that we would perhaps also removed our shorts into our skimpy tight swim wear.”

Oxford University also commented that, “It’s always great to hear that our staff and students are finding new and creative ways to share their research with wider audiences.”

Cedric’s submission was supported byGreen Templeton College, and The Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, which is part of the University’s Department of Zoology, as well as the European Society for Evolutionary Biology.

Tan also participated in the competition in 2011 and has since created similar videos every year. This year, Tan was supported by Stuart Noah, who wrote the original music, and Hannah Moore, who helped choreograph the dance.

One Oxford student commented, “That video is one of the strangest but best things I have ever seen. Who doesn’t want to learn about chicken’s reproduce?”


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