Drawn to Science Communication: Art-Science Synergy as a Career and a Way of Life

I recently gave an invited career talk at the 2020 annual conference of the Ecological Society of America. In case others are interested, I thought I would share the video (with captions) here.

——–

There have also been a number of responses to this talk which have led me to consider doing some recorded Zoom/video conversations, to capture discussion, advice, and more. Stay tuned for more on that front, and feel free to submit questions, advice, and resources via the comments section!

Article: Poetry as a Creative Practice to Enhance Engagement and Learning in Conservation Science

This article was such a fun research and writing project. We were working from the foundational question of how to connect scientists to the value of the practices of reading and creating poetry.

While the paper reports on ways of doing this in university classes, the advice, examples, and resources in the article will be equally useful for K-12 educators.

The article is available via open-access (for free) at the BioScience website. It is also featured here on the Wyoming Public Radio website, where you’ll find more context about the goals we had for writing this article.

Meanwhile, here’s a sample of what you might find useful.

Article abstract (aka summary):

“Creativity is crucial to the capacity to do science well, to communicate it in compelling ways, and to enhance learning. Creativity can be both practiced and enhanced to strengthen conservation science professionals’ efforts to address global environmental challenges. We explore how poetry is one creative approach that can further conservation scientists’ engagement and learning. We draw on evidence from peer-reviewed literature to illustrate benefits of integrating science and poetry, and to ground our argument for the growth of a science-poetry community to help conservation scientists develop skills in creative practices as a component of professional development. We present examples from literature as well as two short poetry exercises for scientists to draw on when considering writing poetry, or deciding on forms of poetry to include, in their practice. Opportunity exists to grow science–poetry projects to further our understanding of what such initiatives can offer.”

Our article also made the cover!

Our photo made the cover! See details in the text, below. Photo © B.G. Merkle, 2018.

Reproductive structures emerging from a complex lichen community, photographed in Parc Jacques-Cartier (Quebec, Canada) provide an opportunity for close observation and focused reflection in much the same way that our poetry article indicates that poetry may help focus scientists’ and science students’ attention. The mutualistic potential of combining poetry and science evokes the underlying biology of lichen. Rather than an individual organism, lichens are the result of a symbiosis of fungi, algae, and/or cyanobacteria. As we noted in our paper, art and science, when integrated, can facilitate innovation, creative thinking, and more compelling learning experiences than when these disciplines are practiced in isolation.

Full article citation: Januchowski-Hartley, Stephanie R., Natalie Sopinka, Bethann G. Merkle, Christina Lux, Anna Zivian, Patrick Goff, and Samantha Oester. Poetry as a Creative Practice to Enhance Engagement and Learning in Conservation Science. BioScience 68(11): 905–911. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy105.

Scientists’ SciArt featured by The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA)

20180820_124537.jpg
Front page article in The Times-Picayune features hand-drawn #SketchYourScience sketches by ecologists, quotes me encouraging folks to evaluate sketches based on self-identified goals

Journalist Sara Sneath* of the New Orleans Times-Picayune recently featured ecologists who sketched their study organisms as part of an impromptu, humorous initiative led by Dr. Solomon R. David* (Nicholls State University). Sneath’s front page story details how ecologists responded to the call to sketch their study organism using the MS Paint program and their nondominant hand. My take – that doing #sciart is a valuable skill and that skill set can be developed with practice – was included in both the online and print versions of the article. Keep reading for some background. Continue reading “Scientists’ SciArt featured by The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA)”

Laramie Boomerang covers dedication of downtown mural

In spring 2017, I was one of 13 artists commissioned by the Laramie Mural Project to design and paint a component of the expansion of the downtown Laramie “Gill Street” mural.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The “Gill Street” mural features fish designed to evoke Wyoming icons.

My design depicts a group of five pronghorn along their ~100-mile migration route – the Path of the Pronghorn.

The mural was dedicated in August 2018. Read about it in the Laramie Boomerang!

20180817_fish_mural_laramie_boomerang

Follow this link for details about my inspiration, the pronghorn migration, and the Laramie Mural Project.

Book review of “Then There Were None”

Screenshot_book_review_bighorn_sheep_book

Last year, a book I illustrated was published! The book, Then There Were None: The Demise of Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, by Paul Krausmandetails the demise of the desert bighorn sheep populations in the mountains around Tuscon, Arizona. It is both a conservation history and a warning for current conservationists.

I was delighted to recently bump into a review of it that also mentioned my illustrations.

You can order the book from the publisher, New Mexico University Press, here.