Biochemistry Graduate Student and “Dancing Scientist” in the News

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An in-depth article about graduate student Jeffrey Vinokur’s passion for science and dance was recently published in his alma mater’s alumni magazine.

A third-year doctoral candidate in Professor Jim Bowie’s group, Vinkour received his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2012. OnWisconsin is a quarterly magazine published the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

From OnWisconsin (by Terry Devitt):

Balancing competing passions, Jeff Vinokur’s whiz-bang shows — and fancy footwork — bring science to the masses.

At the tender age of twenty-four, Jeff Vinokur ’12 has an agent and a publicist. He owns a company. He appears on national and local television with regularity, mixing it up with the likes of Queen Latifah, Rachael Ray, and Whoopi Goldberg.


With a gasp, the cast of ABC’s The View reacts as Jeff Vinokur, a.k.a. the Dancing Scientist, ignites
a hydrogen balloon. Photo: ABC / Lou Rocco.

He is also on the horns of a dilemma.

Vinokur would love to become a working scientist, and he is well on his way to that goal. As a PhD candidate in biochemistry at UCLA, one of the top programs in the country, he prospects for better ways to harness bacteria to make biofuels. His scholarship has led to the discovery of a new biochemical pathway in an ancient lineage of microorganism, a feat he calls an accident. But the work has led to several publications — the currency of academia — and has helped establish his credibility at the lab bench. His research has resulted in two coveted fellowships, one from the National Institutes of Health and the other from the National Science Foundation, ensuring his graduate education.

Then there is Vinokur’s alter ego: the Dancing Scientist. He’s a master of popping, a street-dance style based on rapid-fire contraction and relaxation of muscles to cause a jerk or a pop in rhythm that combines with a variety of robot-like movements and poses. Vinokur is a creative and experimental scientific demonstrator, an art he was tenacious in acquiring and improving as an undergraduate at UW–Madison. He blends his dance moves with his scientific demonstration skills to amaze and entertain audiences from Washington to Singapore.

Read complete article here.

Visit Jeffrey’s website here.

More articles about Jeffrey can be found below:

Daily Bruin story – January 2013

Headlining at Nebraska Science Festival – May 2013

Appearance on Discovery Channel Canada – December 2013

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship – April 2014

Appearance on National TV shows – October 2014, May 2014

ASBMB Today Feature – December 2014