UW Researcher Promotes Use Of Poetry In Science

Nov 28, 2018

Courtesy Bethann Garramon Merkle

A paper published in BioScience looks at how poetry can be used to teach scientific concepts and how researchers can use poetry to gain a new perspective.

Bethann Garramon Merkle, an associate research scientist at the University of Wyoming, co-authored the review with six other researchers from around the world. She said scientific studies make sure to include every detail and variable, but poetry can distill the research down to make it easier to understand.

She said an example is a researcher on the State of Climate report.

"He started writing haikus, and after the first round of those, they actually started publishing them with the report because they were finding that it was an effective way to synthesize a huge amount of information," said Merkle.

According to Merkle, asking students to write poetry allows them to think outside a rigid scientific framework.

"It's really important that in the sciences we don’t look at the arts and humanities just as a way to make science pretty. The arts and sciences can be really powerful ways of changing how people think about and do science," Merkle said.

Merkle encouraged educators and researchers to make an effort to incorporate poetry in their work.