The Biology of Dance
Abigail Schreier

Abigail Schreier ’21 has been dancing since she was 4 years old as a form of self-expression. This love led her to study science to better understand how the body works. As a scholar who double-majored in biology and dance, Schreier learned early on in her Barnard career that the two would complement each other nicely.

Abigail Schreier leap

“My first semester at Barnard, I took a class called Biomechanics for Dancers, and that’s what really showed me that these two interests could be combined into a career,” Schreier said in 2020. For her creative dance thesis, Schreier produced a black-and-white video of herself — shot by Jacob Hiss and choreographed by Emmy Award-winner Al Blackstone — dancing around different New York City neighborhoods, such as Wall Street and Central Park. Two years later, having graduated with a degree that is both STEM- and arts-focused, Schreier is working toward using dance as rehabilitation for individuals.

During her time on campus, Schreier participated in many arts and STEM programs, including the 2020 and 2021 Barnard Biology Research Symposium — an annual event celebrating the work of the department’s Guided Research & Seminar and Senior Thesis Research & Seminar students — and a 2021 campus wastewater research project on COVID-19 under the guidance of co-chair of the Environmental Science Department Brian Mailloux, assistant professor of biology JJ Miranda, and Biology Department staff member Nicole Rondeau ’18.

Woman in mask and protective goggles pouring substance from one tube to another
In the lab, researching wastewater (2021).

Today, Schreier works as a physical therapy aide at Quest Physical Therapy in Issaquah, Washington. In fall 2022, she will join the University of Washington’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, in Seattle. While she’s currently uncertain which specific STEM field she will ultimately specialize in, she hopes to be able to keep dance close by. “I am still involved in dance research at the Neurorehabilitation Research Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University where I work remotely, so [dance is] still in my life,” Schreier said. 

Watch the video of Schreier, above, as she discusses her passion for both biology and dance.

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