Aleszu Bajak

Writing | Text, Maps and Code | Speaking engagements | Classes taught | Fellowships & Awards | Bio

Aleszu Bajak is a freelance science journalist and graduate programs manager at Northeastern University's School of Journalism, where he teaches courses and runs research on digital journalism, data reporting and new media. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, M.I.T. Technology Review and Nature.
He is a faculty affiliate with Northeastern's Global Resilience Institute and an affiliate of the NU Lab for Texts, Maps, and Networks.

Full bio

Text, Maps and Code

Sentiment analysis

In collaboration with graduate student Felippe Rodrigues, I published a story at about the size and tenor of the conversation on Reddit surrounding brain-boosting substances - think the pill from the movie Limitless – using R's tidytext package and more than 150,000 Reddit comments scraped using Python. Code here.

What Reddit Can Tell Us About the Afterlives of Banned Olympic Drugs

Topic modeling

Using R's topicmodels and quanteda packages, I attempted to predict news topics from the headlines of 10,000 top-performing news articles written between Nov. 2016 and May 2017 and downloaded from NewsWhip. Full methodology and code here.


With the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota in full swing, I decided to highlight the actual risk of the pipeline rupturing together with just how pockmarked America's recent track record of spills is. The result, pubished in Undark, was an interactive map based on statistical analysis of federal data - complemented by several in-depth interviews and case studies - of the crude oil pipeline spills America has witnessed in the last decade. Methodology here.

Oil and Water: The Dakota Access Pipiline

For Esquire, on the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of Arthur Miller's birth, I mapped Miller’s New York, as referenced in some of the dozen stories he published in the magazine.

Arthur Miller's New York Universe


For Ensia magazine, I illustrated pesticide use in Brazil for a feature article on developing countries and pesticides which was picked up by Vox and other outlets.


The Washington Post

Her Brain Tormented Her, and Doctors Could Not Understand Why

Someone Is Tracking How Much You Vape on Twitter

What Does Twitter Say About Your Diet?

The Huffington Post

The Dangerous Belief That Extreme Technology Will Fix Climate Change

Craft Beer Brewers Feel Effects Of Climate Change


Chile’s chance to embrace science for the twenty-first century

Chile’s Scientists Take to the Streets

Argentina: The RNA Sleuths

U.S. Assesses Virus of the Caribbean

Key Galapagos Research Station in Trouble


21st Century Policing

In Police Body Camera Footage, Tech Companies See a Niche

Breaking Down "Broken Windows"

The 2016 Presidential Election

Can Donald Trump Dismantle the EPA? It’s Been Tried Before

Mobilizing Green Latinos

Hillary Clinton and the Cultural Biases of Being ‘Presidential’

Micro-targeting and the 2016 Election

Growing West Virginia’s solar sector?

The Zika Epidemic

Changing Latin America's Culture of Insular Science

Playing Politics With Zika — and the Public’s Health

The Blind Pursuit of Mosquito Control

For the U.S., a More Worrisome Zika Vector?

For Venezuela's Zika Woes, Some Tylenol

While Congress Dithered, the Zika Virus Flourished in Puerto Rico

Maps and Podcasts

Map: The Persistent Scourge of Lead Paint

Podcast: Rebuilding Louisiana’s disappearing delta. Plus, the accompanying article.

Browse all my stories for Undark here.


Microbe new to science found in self-fermented beer

Colombian coffee science

Lectures aren’t just boring, they’re ineffective, too

Abundant natural gas may do little to reduce U.S. emissions


The landscape architect turned steward of Colombia's endangered monkey


How Quartz is bringing storytelling and interactive design to sponsored content

Revolutionizing the work of newsrooms by making citizen videos searchable

How to learn responsive web design by coding your own news article

How to organize your data for various charts and graphs


Boxing in Cuba (book review)

Phil Caputo: What I've Learned

Don Zimmer’s hard head

Frank Sinatra Turns 100

Quiz: Which Tech Titan said it?

Dataviz: Happy Birthday, Martin Scorsese!

Science Friday

Video: Dean Kamen and the FIRST robotics competition

Video: Counting horseshoe crabs on Long Island

Video: Tending crops on a Brooklyn rooftop

New Scientist

Catcher in the fog

Global Post

Fossil fuels get a lot more global subsidies than public health does

Failures of Brazil's universal health care plan offer lessons for the US

Ensia magazine

The world is awash in pesticides. Does it have to be?

In Water We Trust

Beeradvocate magazine

Should You Be Worried About the BPA in Your Beer Can?

Sequencing Wild Yeast

Unlocking the Science of Hop Aromas

The Lager Yeast Genome Project

Brewing in Thin Air


Safeguarding biodiversity in tourism hotspots

Represas hidroeléctricas propician extinción de especies

Prevenir pandemias es más barato que combatirlas

Intervención de la comunidad ayuda a prevenir el Chagas


Catching fog in Lima

Trunk magazine

Darwin, Neruda and Me

Latin American Science

The future of Latin American science

A year later, the effects of a volcanic eruption still plague Patagonia

A farm runs on homemade biodiesel in Argentina

Zócalo Public Square

How can we fight the rise of deadly superbugs?

Modern Farmer

Colombian coffee at the crossroads

The Specialty Coffee Chronicle

Can the world’s growing appetite for unique coffee save Brazil’s specialty coffee farms?

Christian Science Monitor

São Paulo razes crack cocaine shantytown

Speaking engagements, workshops
Global Resilience Institute Flash Talk, Northeastern University, 2018
Urban Tensions hackathon, Northeastern University, 2017
Covering Housing workshop, Nieman Foundation, 2017
Communicating ciencia, National Association of Science Writers conference, San Antonio, Texas, 2016
So you want to be a data journalist?, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, 2016
Intro to data visualization workshop, Nieman Foundation, 2016
Iberoamerican conference on science journalism, Digital frontiers keynote talk, Mexico, 2015
Power of Narrative conference panel on digital journlism and seminar on Latin American science, Boston University, 2015
Storytelling with Data workshop on data visualization tools, Boston University, 2015
World Conference of Science Journalists panel on Latin American science, Seoul, South Korea, 2015
Ciencia y periodismo (Science and Journalism), Nexos Chile-USA keynote talk, Harvard University D.R.C.L.A.S., 2015
Digital cartography workshop, Nieman Foundation, 2015


Classes taught
Spring 2018
Digital Storytelling and Social Media, Northeastern Journalism School
Fall 2017
Digital Storytelling and Social Media, Northeastern Journalism School
Fall 2016
Nieman Digital Storytelling, Nieman Foundation
Fall 2016
Fundamentals of Digital Journalism, Northeastern Journalism School
Spring 2016
Science and Journalism in Society, Brandeis University
Fall 2015
Media Innovation Studio, Northeastern Journalism School
Spring 2015
StoryLab: Reinventing Magazine Journalism, Northeastern Journalism School
Summer 2014
Foreign Correspondence in the Digital Age, Harvard Extension School

Fellowships & Awards
Knight Science Journalism Fellow, M.I.T., 2013—2014
Ocean Science Fellow, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, September, 2014
Information is Beautiful Award, shortlist for best data visualization website,, 2015
Best magazine writing, North American Guild of Beer Writers
Sequencing Wild Yeast, 1st place, 2016
Unlocking the Science of Hop Aromas, 1st place, 2015
Stemming the Rise of Barley Disease, 3rd place, 2014
Brewing in Thin Air, 3rd place, 2013


Full bio

Aleszu Bajak is a freelance science journalist and graduate programs manager at Northeastern University's School of Journalism, where he teaches courses and runs research on digital journalism, data reporting and new media. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, M.I.T. Technology Review and Nature.
He is a faculty affiliate with Northeastern's Global Resilience Institute and an affiliate of the NU Lab for Texts, Maps, and Networks.

Aleszu is the editor of, an under the hood guide to digital storytelling from Northeastern's School of Journalism, and, a resource for science news and opinion out of Latin America. In 2016, he was a founding senior writer at Undark, a magazine exploring the intersection of science and society based at the Knight Science Journalism Program at M.I.T. The year before, he launched and edited Esquire Classic, the digital archive of Esquire magazine.

In 2013, Aleszu was awarded a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at M.I.T. where he explored the interface between journalists, designers and developers between visits to the Muddy Charles. Since then, he has taught courses and led workshops at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, Brandeis University, Harvard Extension School, and Boston University's Storytelling with Data.

Aleszu has been a freelance reporter in Latin America, a producer for the public radio show Science Friday, and once upon a time worked in the gene therapy department at Weill Cornell. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, the Boston Globe magazine, MIT Technology Review, the Huffington Post, bioGraphic, Esquire, Nature, Science, New Scientist, Beeradvocate, and Guernica, among other outlets. He grew up in New Jersey, Germany and Colombia and has lived in Chile, Peru and Argentina. He can be reached at firstname lastname at