Doctoral dance update

We previously mentioned the “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest, the first round of which has since concluded. Suzanne Winter of gives us an update in her article “Shake your groove thing,” which focuses on the winner in the chemistry category, Maureen McKeague of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Since this is above all a science music blog, we should note the central role of music in the winning dance:

McKeague’s thesis dance begins with a lonely homocystine target, dancing by herself to Celine Dion’s “Alone” before being incubated with DNA strands that are possible aptamers. The dancers demonstrate binding affinity by keeping apace of the aerobic homocystine as she dances to Vanilla Fudge’s “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and surviving a urea wash as “Night on Bald Mountain” plays menacingly in the background. In the true gem of the video, the strands then undergo PCR, led by a jiving Taq DNA polymerase molecule to the tune of Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance.” Finally, natural selection takes its toll as mismatched aptamers peel off the dance group to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and the remaining aptamers celebrate their binding affinity with Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

The charming article is marred by a number of factual errors. McKeague’s small-molecule target is homocysteine, not homocystine. In addition, most of the songs mentioned above appear to be attributed to the wrong artists. The version of “Alone” used in the dance sounds to my ears like the original one recorded by Heart, not Celine Dion’s cover. Conversely, “The Safety Dance” was originally recorded by Men Without Hats, but the dance includes a different version. And the “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” heard here is not from Vanilla Fudge — maybe Kim Wilde?

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