I am very sorry to inform you that
passed away last Friday night (02.10.2020), in a hospital in
Kraków, at the age of 98.
She has been suffering from kidney malfunction for many months,
which entailed frequent and exhausting dialyses. Last Wednesday
her condition has suddenly worsen and she was rushed to a
hospital where sepsis was diagnosed. Unfortunately, given her
advanced age and multiple other afflictions, the treatment was
unsuccessful. She has been given morphine to ease her pain and
she passed away in peace.
in her apartment in Kraków, in 2003.
was born in a village near Kraków on the 20.02.1922. She
survived through the horrors of the World War II and communism,
including the extremely difficult times of Stalinism when
scientific discoveries, such as DNA structure, were considered
‘imperialist’ and were banned at Polish universities, and it
took a lot of effort and skills to get hold of scientific
literature from the West. Nevertheless,
was an internationally recognised tardigradologists who worked
mainly on tardigrade morphology and ultrastructure, but she also
published important papers on embryology, physiology as
well as faunistics and taxonomy. Altogether, she published
around fifty research articles. Her first tardigrade papers were
published in the 1950’ (including a publication in
Nature) and her last article was published in 2006. Apart from
tardigrades, she also worked on scale insects (Coccidae).
started studying and working at the Jagiellonian University in
Kraków soon after the WWII has ended. She obtained her MSc
degree in 1951, her PhD in 1960, her DSc in 1968 and she earned
her Professorship in 1984. She retired in 1992, but she kept on
doing her research into the first decade of the present century.
Although her sight was very limited in the last years and she
could no longer read, she was always eager to hear about the
latest developments in tardigrade research.
In recognition of her achievements, she
was awarded high Polish medals, such as the Golden Cross of
Merit or Order of Polonia Restituta. She was also recognised by
the international community of tardigradologists who have named
two genera (heterotardigrade
and five species (heterotardigrades
and Claxtonia barbarae,
Bertolanius weglarskae and
in her honour.
in her apartment in Kraków, in 2018.
Many of you were hoping to see her at the
15th International Symposium on Tardigrada which is planned to
be held next year. I can tell you that
was looking forward to see you too. In order to honour her,
both the Symposium and Symposium Proceedings will be dedicated
to her memory. Barbara was a member of the Honorary Committee of
the upcoming Symposium, but most importantly she was the sole
organiser of the 2nd International Symposium on Tardigrada that
took place in Kraków in 1977. It was an immense effort to
organise an international event behind the Iron Curtain. For
had to provide the authorities not only with the names of
participants, but also with some of their personal details such
as the birth dates and names of parents as all westerners were
considered potential spies by the communist government. Wanting
to avoid bothering her guests,
Barbara made up the
dates and other details. Fortunately, the authorities haven't
found out about her hustle, otherwise she would had been in
was a great person, always keen to help and make you laugh with
her sharp wit and dark sense of humour. She was a fighter and
compromise was not one of her favourite words.
She will be missed.
For the last several years, Barbara had a ringback melody in her
mobile phone, which was the cover of “Supergirl” by Anna Naklab
(originally performed by Reamonn). Whenever you called her, you
could hear these lines, which now will always ring in my head
whenever I think of her:
And then she'd say,
I got home late last night
But I'm a supergirl
And supergirls just fly"
And supergirls don't cry.