Forest scientist’s rap video was awarded in Science’s annual ‘Dance Your Ph.D.’ competition

Samuli Junttila raps about his PhD thesis and finds his way into the hearts of an international judging panel: Scan the trees! Scan the trees! – Junttila explains on his rap video what is meant by scanning the trees.

Forest scientist Samuli Junttila’s innovative depiction of how laser scanning can be utilized in the detection of declined trees got international recognition in Science’s ’Dance Your Ph.D’ competition by winning the physics category. This is the first time the award came to Finland.

A musician since he was young, Junttila has produced videos as a side job at his own company while pursuing a doctorate in forest sciences. ”I wanted to bring the results of my doctoral thesis into the knowledge of the public and for me, a music video seemed like the most natural way to do it”, says Junttila, who is now a postdoc at the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki. ”This was also an ingenious way to combine my own interests and have fun while doing it.”

This is the 12th year of Dance Your Ph.D. hosted by Science, where the best videos get awarded that accomplish in communicating science through arts and creativity. The contest covered four broad categories: biology, chemistry, physics, and social science. The overall winner of the contest was neuroscientist Antoine Groneberg from Portugal with her video about zebrafish brain development.

These are the four winners selected by the judging panel:

Overall winner and Social Science category winner

Antonia Groneberg 
Early life social experiences shape social avoidance kinematics in larval zebrafish
Champalimaud Research (Portugal)
Current affiliation: Charité Berlin (Germany)

Physics category winner:

Samuli Junttila 
Utilizing multispectral lidar in the detection of declined trees
Current affiliation: University of Helsinki

Biology category winner:

Katharina Hanika 
Impairing disease susceptibility genes to obtain resistance to Verticillium wilt in tomato
Current affiliation: Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands)

Chemistry category winner:

Jackie Zorz 
An integrated approach to improving efficiency in microbial bioenergy systems
Current affiliation: University of Calgary (Canada)