Since 2007, scientists from all around the world have been participating in a competition that involves getting them do some choreography work and master dance moves but the annual contest is not some ordinary dance competition.

The Dance Your Ph.D contest, which is sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the journal Science and Highwire Press, challenges doctoral students to express their research through dance, which means that they would have to translate their study into an artistic and rhythmic movement of the body.

Expressing a scientific work as a dance may be challenging but this year's winner, Uma Nagendra, had the best of both worlds. Not only is she a doctoral student conducting a study on the beneficial effect of tornadoes, she is also an avid aerial dance enthusiast.

For this year's Dance your Ph.D contest, Nagendra, an Indian biology Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia, enlisted with the help of her classmates at the Canopy Studio, a flying dance trapeze movement arts and performance center in Athens, to create a dance based on her scientific research.

Nagendra is from New Orleans, which was drastically affected by Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane, one of the deadliest in the history of the United States, has actually sparked her curiosity on how nature recovers from destructive disasters. Her work reveals that besides being a damaging force, tornadoes also have some beneficial effects.

In her dance entry, Nagendra and her team showed that tornadoes can reduce the competition between tree seedlings and fungi that accumulate in the roots of a mature tree and this allows the seedlings to thrive.

The elaborate aerial routine that Nagendra choreographed had her winning the biology category of the competition and eventually taking the grand prize. She was awarded $1000 in cash prize and a free trip to the Stanford University in May 2015, where her winning video entry will be screened.

For category winners who received $500 in cash prize, Saioa Alvarez, from Spain's University of the Basque Country, made it as the winner of the Chemistry category for his dance about mayonnaise. Hans Rinderknecht, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, danced about nuclear fusion winning him the Physics category.

David Manzano Cosano, from the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain took home the social science prize for his dance about colonialism. Venanzio Cichella, from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, won the online audience vote for his dance rendition of the drones.

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