BiologyGeekeryPerformance ArtScienceUncategorizedVideo

Here’s my paper, accept it maybe?

I spent last week gearing up for and going to the Stanford Genetics department retreat. It’s an almost universal thing in biology departments, I think, that we have an annual mini-conference that features the research done in the department, welcomes new students, and reminds us that we live in a vibrant and friendly scientific community.

And I don’t know if this is as universal, but one gold standard within Stanford Genetics is that you can tell a professor is approachable and the department is vibrant if they’re willing – or possibly eager – to show their enthusiasm for science by singing and dancing. And so, since ours is apparently a vibrant department full of approachable professors, our retreat was full of elaborate song and dance numbers. In particular, Call Me Maybe came up three times. Links to videos, and some theorizing, below.

Below you’ll find links to a bunch of videos, (one of the Call Me Maybe videos was too epic to be posted online, apparently), and they’re generally awesome so take a look. But I wanted to open this up to a discussion as well, since I think that it’s an interesting confluence: the ‘scientific song parody’ is a remarkably common internet phenomenon, and a lot of the departments where my science-minded friends and acquaintances work do similar things encouraging faculty members to embarrass themselves in front of large groups. And because I can’t help myself, I have a hypothesis and two questions.

My hypothesis is that these videos are particularly common in academic/research science for three reasons: one, it’s a community of nerds, and nerds love both song parodies and internet videos. Two, it helps break down the potentially stifling hierarchy (grad student – post doc – assistant professor – tenured professor) that exists in academia, and thereby foster creative research. And three, song and dance can be a fruitful and creative outlet in an often frustrating and always demanding profession. What are your thoughts? What are your favorite science song and dance videos?

Call Me Maybe #1:

Call Me Maybe #2:
(Sadly just a karaoke track with revised lyrics; the live performance of this was epic, let me tell you.)

Lazy (Grad Student) Song:

Getting Data:


Featured image is a screen capture from the Lazy (Grad) Student Song via cassandra 882.


Elizabeth Finn

Elizabeth is a geneticist working for a shady government agency and therefore obliged to inform you that all of the views presented in her posts are her own, and not official statements in any capacity. In her free time, she is an aerialist, a dancer, a clothing designer, and an author. You can find her on tumblr at, on twitter at @lysine_rich, and also on facebook or google+.

Related Articles

One Comment

  1. Please forgive me for being completely off topic.

    I ran across a charitable endeavor today that I think the MAL and Skepchick communities would absolutely adore.

    It’s called Fill The Shelves and the basic idea is that librarians at schools who don’t have enough books can make an Amazon wish list and the fine folks at Fill The Shelves will publicize it so every random Joe Schmoe can go in and buy a specific book for a specific school.

    It is grassroots awesomeness that makes the world a better place.

    If I have crossed a line better left uncrossed, please forgive me, I’ll make a point to wear my hairshirt for a few days.

Leave a Reply

Back to top button