| Kathy Keatley Garvey/UC Davis
|Matan Shelomi studies walking sticks.|
By Harry Mok
If you thought most doctoral theses were too complex, too obscure and, well, too nerdy to comprehend, PhDTV begs to differ.
The website's video contest lets doctoral candidates like UC Davis's Matan Shelomi explain their work in two minutes or less, breaking down years of painstaking research into a story anyone can understand.
Shelomi didn't win the contest but PhDTV picked his entry to be made into a video using simple animation and succinct explanations to describe his fascination with walking sticks, a ubiquitous but little-understood insect.
In the video, titled "Mystery Tubes in the Stick Bug's Gut," Shelomi explains that not much is known about walking sticks but they're unusual among insects. They can grow to a half-meter in size and are the only known insects that can regenerate lost limbs.
Shelomi said he was discouraged from pursuing his entomology thesis on them unless he could tie it to some bigger picture.
"You should go with your gut" and "follow your heart," he says in the video, and it has paid off.
Shelomi has discovered that walking sticks have a set of tubes in their guts that are unlike anything in the insect world. His studies are focused on figuring out what these tubes are and how they function. It's basic research that could lead in any number of directions.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Shelomi can explain his research in two minutes. Last year he won a Shorty award, known as the Oscar for producing short social-media content, for answering the question: If you injure a bug, should you kill it or let it live?
We're not going to tell you the answer, but you can read it here.