I am a zoologist and a science communicator. I currently work as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Reading, at the School of Biological Sciences. I finished my doctorate at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, where I studied the diving behaviour of semi-aquatic animals. I have previously worked on a number of species, ranging from wombats and wallabies to mole-rats and mink.

In 2014 I won the Polish edition of FameLab, a science communication competition, and went on to receive the International Alumni Award in the international FameLab finals. I am involved in all sorts of science communication events, including TEDxWarsaw, Bright Club, Soapbox Science and Museums Showoff. I also contribute popular science pieces to Gazeta Wyborcza and Focus, and write a blog for INNPoland.

Having lived in seven countries, conducted research in five, and travelled to 40, I am an internationally-oriented person with a passion for exploring new cultures and environments. I greatly enjoy teaching, which I do a lot of; I spend my free time on competitive ballroom dancing, and working with migrant communities in the UK.

Because I come from Poland, some parts of this website will be in Polish. Don’t let the numbers of consonants scare you off!


Oxford University

DPhil in Zoology – 2013

MSc in Biology (Integrative Bioscience) – 2007

Jacobs University Bremen, Germany 

BSc in Biology – 2006

Rice University, Houston, USA

Semester abroad – 2005

Research experience

Insect olfaction

In 2013 I worked as Senior Scientist at Inscentinel Ltd, a start-up company investigating using honeybees to detect explosives. Bees have a phenomenal sense of smell and can be taught to sniff out not only explosives, but also drugs, diseases or land mines. They are cheaper and more accurate than dogs, and also learn much faster. Below is a video of us at work:

created by Stuart Leithes, ITV News, Anglia.

Biotelemetry and semi-aquatic animals

My doctoral thesis, completed at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, focused on investigating the use of miniaturised Time-Depth Recorders (TDRs) for analysing the diving behaviour of semi-aquatic animals. I have used the invasive American mink (Neovison vison) as my model species, and was able to identify dive patterns using TDR depth records, and activity types using TDR temperature records. This work is described in the publications below:

Bagniewska J. M., Harrington, L. A.,  Hart, T., Harrington A. L., Fasola L. & Macdonald, D. W. (2015) Persistence in diving American minkAnimal Biotelemetry, 3(18), doi: 10.1186/s40317-015-0057-4

Macdonald, D. W., Harrington, L. A., Yamaguchi, N., Thom, M. D. F. & Bagniewska, J. M. (2015) Biology, ecology, and reproduction of American mink Neovison vison on lowland farmland. in Wildlife Conservation on Farmland Volume 2: Conflict in the Countryside, eds. Macdonald, D. W. & Feber, R. E. Oxford University Press, USA.

Bagniewska J. M., Hart, T., Harrington, L. A., & Macdonald, D. W. (2013) Hidden Markov analysis describes dive patterns in semi-aquatic animals. Behavioral Ecology24 (3), 659-667.

My doctoral research has been funded by the Crescendum Est-Polonia Foundation, and People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

Animal welfare, conservation and international development

I created a report for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, used for promoting collaboration between the fields of animal welfare, biodiversity conservation and international development. The research involved a review of available English-language literature. An executive summary can be found here: Animals, the Environment and People.

Scent-station research on South-African canids

DSC_00930044For my MSc project I evaluated the use of scent-stations for monitoring relative densities of populations of African canids (particularly black-backed jackals, bat-eared foxes and cape foxes), at sites in Northern Cape and Free State provinces in South Africa. The research was part of a bigger project on the ecology and interaction of canid species, ran by Dr Jan Kamler. More information on making scent-stations and identifying canid tracks can be found here:

Bagniewska, J. M.,  & Kamler , J. F. (2007) Scent-station surveys: instruction manual. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

Bagniewska, J. M., & Kamler, J. F. (2013) Do black-backed jackals suppress numbers of smaller carnivores and prey?. African Journal of Ecology. doi: 10.1111/aje.12125.

This project was funded by John Ray Trust, Zoological Society of London, and St Anne’s College, Oxford.

Some of the methodology has been described in Practical Field Ecology: A Project Guide, by C. Philip Wheater, James R. Bell, Penny A. Cook (2011) Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-0-470-69429-9


I have conducted short, exploratory work on developing ontologies for animal behaviour and animal welfare research, as a project with Oxford University’s Image Bioinformatics Research Group Oxford.

My MSc research has been supported by the BBSRC.

Mammalian eusociality

My BSc thesis at Rice University involved examining the mechanisms of recruiting young into the working caste in Damaraland mole-rats, Fukomys damarensis. This research was conducted at the Houston Zoo.

Road ecology

I have participated in a project examining the habitat selection by the common wombat Vombatus ursinus in disturbed environments (Snowy Mountains National Park, Australia), ran by the University of New South Wales. The research is described in a publication by Erin Roger et al.:

Roger, E., Laffan, S. W., & Ramp, D. (2007) Habitat selection by the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) in disturbed environments: Implications for the conservation of a ‘common’ species. Biological Conservation, 137 (3), 437–449.

Teaching experience

I’m a versatile academic teacher (on both post- and undergraduate levels), I also enjoy working with younger students, especially in high schools. I currently work as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Reading, at the School of Biological Sciences.

Between Oct 2013 and Dec 2014 I was a Lecturer in Wildlife Conservation at Nottingham Trent University; my modules included biodiversity conservation, ecology, behaviour, science communication, and wildlife genetics and breeding. I was also a Co-Course Leader for the BSc (Hons) in Wildlife Conservation.

Between 2009 and 2013 I have worked at Oxford University’s Zoology Department, leading laboratory practicals, holding tutorial sessions, and supervising thesis projects (MSc and BSc).

My subject range includes

  • animal behaviour
  • behavioural ecology
  • conservation biology
  • modelling infectious diseases
  • programming
  • statistics.

Since July 2012 I have the pleasure to work for Oxbridge Academic Programs. In 2012 I was a staff member at Oxford Prep summer school, where I designed and taught a four-week zoology course for groups of 5-15 students aged 13-16. The following three summers I spent running the Boundaries of Scientific Knowledge course on the Oxford Teacher Seminar, where I had the opportunity to show science teachers from around the world some of Oxford’s ground-breaking research.

With my OxPrep students on a trip to London, summer of 2012.
With my OxPrep students on a trip to London, summer of 2012.