Marji Puotinen is a research scientist studying the impacts of tropical cyclones on the world’s coral reefs and how this may change as the climate warms. In her spare time, she teaches kids about climate change by asking ‘What do penguins and coral reefs have in common?’ Currently she is running the 2021 version of the #kidscareaboutclimatechange drawing contest ( for kids aged 4-14 around the world!

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early Bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Teddy the dog (Maltese-Shitsu)

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Silk painting of a leafy sea dragon

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

A smattering of French and even less of Spanish!

8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

Science communicator / outdoor photographer

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?

So hard to choose!

10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?

Glasgow in November to take the #kidscareaboutclimatechange banner of drawings to the next United Nations climate meeting (COP’26)

11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?

Remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to stop runaway climate heating

12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

Outrage and Optimism podcast –

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Walk all day taking photos of wildflowers along a remote coastal trail

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

Books, determination, the natural world

15 What beverage gives you life?

Green tea

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

Fahrenheit 451

17 What did you want to be when you grew up?

Dancer, archaeologist, writer, traveler!

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Lighting a spark of excitement for building something that didn’t exist before. Feeling the energy from people as we build value for the world together.

19 What got you excited in science?

Creativity and discovery – always learning

20 What excites you about science now?

Communicating science in a way that inspires others

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Sitting in an armchair with a view of the ocean reading a book!

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Dancing on TV as a bleaching coral polyp!

23 What is your favorite game?

Wheel words (find all the words you can make out of the 9 letters provided)

24 What is the last book you read?

How I walked from Mexico to Canada one summer

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

You are enough.

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

Climbing giant trees like those in SW Australia

27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

You can give your own self permission to do be just who you are and want to be!!

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

For me, it is taking close-up photos of flowers, plants and insects. It is the best version of mindfulness for me. And also editing the photos afterwards to discover hidden treasures.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

I rarely watch TV on purpose. The kids had ‘the Mighty Ducks’ on this morning. I used to love watching Star Trek years ago.

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

A coral polyp costume??

31 What is your favorite animal?

Beluga whale

32 What is your favorite book?

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Twice baked potatoes with lots of bacon or SALSA

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Any day I am beach camping

35 What is your favorite plant?


36 What is your favorite science fact?

Coral reefs are a rock, animal and plant – all at the same time!!

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Frangipani flower – mmmm!

39 What is your favorite sound?

Waves gently lapping on the beach at night when camping – I sleep so well

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I never run out of creative ideas!

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?

Hahahahah (the word that makes the sound of laughter)

42 What is your proudest moment?

Filming the 2018 #kidscareaboutclimatechange banner of 1,246 drawings from 11 countries and 120 schools in Antarctica with Homeward Bound!!

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Magnolia – my favorite tree to climb as a child

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

Relaxed outdoor lifestyle and stellar wild places nearby

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I once gave an entire speech in Year 5 talking in the voice of the cartoon character ‘Marvin the Martian’

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?

Colleen Begg who runs the Niassa Lion Project