Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 9:29am

This is a quite visionary joining of art and science:

University of Georgia doctoral student Uma Nagendra flipped and twisted her way to the top prize in the seventh annual Dance Your Ph.D. contest for her video explaining biology research through an aerial dance performance.

The contest, sponsored by Science Magazine, the Association of the Advancement of Science and HighWire Press, challenged scientists around the world to explain their Ph.D. research through the art form of dance. Nagendra's video was chosen from 12 finalists as the overall winner by an expert panel of scientists and artists. Her video also won first place in the biology category.

Nagendra, a student in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of plant biology, studies how forests regenerate after severe disturbances like tornadoes.

n 2005, Nagendra's home city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. This piqued her interest in studying how the natural world recovers from disasters. Nagendra began her doctorate at UGA in 2011 and set out to research tornadoes, a more readily occurring disaster.

Nagendra attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts part time as a high school student but later shifted her attention to science as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College.

"From the moment I first saw a Dance Your Ph.D. video, I knew I would enter the contest someday," she said. "I really think that art can help communicate scientific ideas and fuel creative thinking."

Wow. Can it ever. Especially in the hands of such a talented scientist/dancer. Quite a combination - quite a student. Congratulations to Ms. Nagendra, for whom great things are in store.