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: