Faces of LMP: Jana Neiman-Zenevich
Name: Jana Neiman-Zenevich
Program/year: Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP)
Role/position: Choreographer and leader of the LMP Dance Crew
So you think you can dance? Then you might want to check out the LMP Dance Crew. The energetic dance group formed in 2012, and since then have “locked” and “popped” their way to success.
Created by LMP graduate students, Jana Neiman-Zenevich and Farshad Azimi, the group has performed at many LMP events including the last three LMP Annual Banquets. They’ve danced to Foot Loose, U Can’t Touch This, Single Ladies, Gangnam Style, The Fox and even inspired a surprise flashmob to Happy. They recently performed Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) at this year’s celebration.
Neiman is a fourth-year PhD student working with Professor Jeremy Mogridge. She’s studying the molecular mechanism of inflammation during metabolic stress. Outside the lab she leads and choreographs the Crew. Her passion for dance began when she was six years old and she continues taking ballet classes at Canada’s National Ballet School.
Neiman explains how the group got started and how dance has helped to balance an intense workload.
What do you find most interesting about your research?
My research exposes me to both the microbiology and the immunology fields. I get to learn about the molecular and cellular biology of bacteria and the molecular biology of how the immune system responds to these pathogens.
Why did you decide to create the LMP Dance Crew?
Farshad Azimi came up with the idea to do a surprise dance for our 2012 holiday party, and we thought it would be fun to dance to Gangnam Style. I learned the choreography and then we got a group of students and staff together and started to practice. We had a ton of fun with that first dance, and we’ve continued to get together every week to practice new routines — for fun and exercise.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of leading the group?
I enjoy it because it’s challenging. Different people learn in different ways so I’ve had to learn how to adjust my teaching style. Also, some people don’t have a dance background, so I’ve figured out how to break the moves down into smaller steps. It’s really rewarding to see people having fun dancing and improving with each practice.
How does dance influence your research and your life at LMP?
As graduate students we spend a lot of time in the lab. It’s great to have a group activity where we can get together and do something active and creative. A lot of us have intense research projects, and dance practice serves as a mental and physical break. When we go back to the lab we’re re-energized and ready to look at research problems in new ways. I’ve also made some lasting connections, and it’s been fun to interact with other students outside the lab.
What are your future plans?
Teaching choreography has been a really great experience because I want to pursue a career in teaching. I would like to teach biology at a College or University level after I graduate. While I finish my PhD, I plan to continue to host dance practice every week. We have a core group, and we’re always welcoming new people!
What’s your favourite thing about LMP?
My favourite thing about LMP is the people. Their skills and talents go well beyond research and can be seen through their passion for music, singing and dance.
LMP Dance Crew: Yoshihito Kano, Annoj Thavalingam, Kirk Zafranski, Jana Neiman-Zenevich, Betty Poon, Jonathan Cook, Ferzeen Sammy and Farshad Azimi