17th January 2019

Manchester PhD student dances her thesis

The competition has finals in Washington next month
Manchester PhD student dances her thesis
Aljona is hoping for success with her dancing thesis. Photo: Aljona Kolmogorova.

A PhD student at the University of Manchester has made a dance video explaining her PhD thesis.

Aljona Kolmogorova, who is in her final year of completing of a biology and neuroscience PhD, has entered the international ‘Dance Your PhD’ competition, with the top prize being $1,000.

Her research focuses on the peripheral nervous system (a highly connected network of nerve cells, which allows humans to move sense and feel). Peripheral nerve injury can result in a nerve gap, preventing the individual to move or feel part of their body. In order to heal, nerve cells need to bridge this nerve gap and reconnect to each other as fast as possible.

Aljona’s overall PhD research aim is to find out how different biochemical factors can make nerve cells grow faster, and guide them back to reconnect to each other. This knowledge is especially crucial for the improvement of healing strategies for nerves after injury.

Speaking exclusively to The Mancunion, Aljona said: “I have always wanted to combine my passion for dance with my research in some ways, and when I heard about this competition, I though this is just perfect!

“It is also a great way to communicate your research to a wider audience and get more interest from the general public.”

Aljona also sees the power of the competition to extend beyond the university sphere: “I think it is firstly important for children to see how diverse scientists and science can be. We are not just people in white lab coats!

“The combination of any art with science is a great way to illustrate research. There is definitely more room for collaborations between the two disciplines.

Especially to get kids more interested in any science, just like the motto; ‘show it, don’t tell it’.”

Finally, when asked if she thought she could win the competition, Aljona said: “I mean, I would be of course super thrilled, if I could get through to the finals first and actual attend the science conference, where the winners will be announced in Washington next month.”

You can view Aljona’s video here and can find out more information about how to vote here.

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