Dancing through the struggles of a PhD

Dr. John here… If you’re anything like me, your dancing skills can be summed up by a poorly executed routine performed to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean at about two weddings per year.

The same cannot be said for my friend, Dr. Kiki Jenkins, a marine conservation scientist who was once recruited to be a professional dancer.

Kiki began dancing as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. There as a dance minor, she regularly performed in modern, jazz, and African dance pieces as well as choreographing her own work. Throughout graduate school, Kiki taught and performed with the Dance Arts Studio in Morehead City from 1999-2006. After finishing her PhD, she moved to California in the Bay Area, where she danced for Bonner Odell and was also recruited and joined a local professional dance company.

Kiki: marine conservation scientist and dancerYou can see one of her performances in the video above. “Can’t Give Up Now” was choreographed and performed by Kiki as a farewell to the Dance Arts Studio, where she taught dance throughout graduate school.

As Kiki describes it, “The dance depicts the struggles of pursuing a PhD., the final push to finish writing my thesis, and the sustaining grace of God that carried me through it all.”

I had the opportunity get to know Kiki when we were both Science and Technology Policy Fellows with the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 2007-2009. I had a chance to ask Kiki a few questions about what motivated her to pursue a career in science and how she was able to integrate both dancing and science into her life. Stay tuned for more…