Jury member interview #3: Joanna Bagniewska, zoologist & scicommer

On Thursday, 18 July, the winners of the Science Haiku Competition 2019 will be announced. In this lightning blog series, we asked our jury members to share their impressions of this year’s entries; stay tuned for more!

Dr. Joanna Bagniewska is a teaching fellow in zoology and ecology at the University of Reading, focusing on ecology and biodiversity conservation; she also works as a communications and public engagement officer at the University of Oxford. In addition, she is an award-winning, freelancing science communicator, engaged in a wide area of projects in the UK and in Poland.

Cześć, Joanna! What is your general impression of the 41 science haikus?

I loved the diversity of topics! Some of the entries really resonated with me, because they captured not just the essence of the studied subject, but also the feelings that scientists are often overcome by as part of their research journey.

What kind of entries are you most fond of, personally?

Because of my profession, I have a soft spot for ecology-related haikus (though I don’t let that cloud my judgement!). My top entries have to be technically correct in terms of the number and layout of syllables, and I need to feel that I have learned something new or experienced a strong emotion. I’m also a sucker for word play and puns, but they are by no means mandatory. What I definitely DON’T want to feel is underwhelmed or confused! 

In which way do you think science poetry can be used for science dissemination and public engagement?

Perhaps going against the idea of haikus, I think that rhymed poetry has a great place in science dissemination. Rhymed poems and songs make it much easier to remember information – think of Tom Lehrer’s Periodic Table song!

What are your three pieces of advice to the participants of Crastina’s next science poetry competition?

  1. Think of what you would like the reader to learn or feel after reading your haiku.
  2. Get feedback from people who know nothing about your research.
  3. Just do it!


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