Researchers Get ‘Fancy’ With an Iggy Azalea-Inspired Journal Submission

Iggy Azalea - Shutterstock -

Iggy Azalea – Shutterstock –

If I told you some researchers submitted a paper to a journal along with a video explaining the work, you might not be too impressed.

…But what if I told you it was an Iggy Azalea-inspired music video? Now I have your attention.

Professors David Sholl and Ryan Lively of Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) said it started as a pretty generic request from the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters to provide a video with their paper.

It was to be the journal’s cover story, so they wanted to do something special. They looked at what others had done. As expected, many of the journal’s Perspective Videos were traditional ‘researcher speaking to camera’ style clips.

So they decided to take a chance and try something completely different. “We thought we could have a little fun while making the video for the journal,” Sholl said. That’s how the music video for Defects in Metal–Organic Frameworks: Challenge or Opportunity? was born. It’s a live performance video, in which their faculty band — Fully Engaged and the Flat Outs — performs a “sciencey” version of Iggy Azalea’s hit song Fancy.

Sholl said the band has a tradition of playing a song or two for the school’s on-campus graduate student recruiting event each spring. “We had used this song (with different words) earlier in the year. We rewrote the words to fit with the theme of our research paper, then pulled everyone together for a few hours to shoot the video live,” he said. “Amazingly, the class taking a final exam in the room next to us didn’t seem to mind!”

Sholl and Lively said the journal seemed a bit surprised by their submission, but didn’t hesitate to make it available online. The journal staff hadn’t seen anything quite like it before, but they seemed to enjoy it.

The video was first shown at a technical conference over the summer and received a great response from fellow researchers. The positive feedback has continued to roll in since the video became available online.

They know the video may be difficult for an average person to understand, which is why their intended audience is other researchers. “The words for the song actually tie pretty closely to the technical details of our research,” Sholl explained. “Hopefully this means that the video is even more enjoyable to people in our research community, while still being fun for a broader audience.”

They would be happy for the video to point other scientists and engineers to their paper, but Sholl and Lively are more interested in sending a different message — that it’s possible to be involved in great research and have some fun too.

“All of the people in the video are accomplished scientific researchers in their own right. Having a wide audience understand that we are real people and perhaps even have a sense of humor is a good thing,” said Sholl.

He was quick to point out that taking a humorous approach to technical work is no substitute for doing high-quality research, but it can make the work a lot more fun.

So what’s next for the band? Lively told me one thing is for sure, they won’t be playing weddings and bar mitzvahs. “We only know around three songs, so it would have to be a pretty short event.”


Band Members:  Profs. Ryan Lively, David Sholl, Mark Styczynski (rapper), and Krista Walton (vocals) — All are faculty of Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Paper:  Defects in Metal–Organic Frameworks: Challenge or Opportunity? David S. Sholl and Ryan P. Lively The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 2015 6 (17), 3437-3444 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.5b01135

Video Link:


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