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Danielle Whittaker

The Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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“Crazy ideas are great when you’re a scientist.”


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Danielle Whittaker is an evolutionary biologist who studies dark eyed juncos (they’re birds) and how they use their sense of smell.


Danielle is a roller derby referee. In that alternate universe, she’s known as "Chunk Rock Girl."


Danielle Whittaker says "birds can too smell" and sets out to prove it.

30 Second Science with Danielle Whittaker

In just half of a minute, evolutionary biologist Danielle Whittaker tells us a whole lot about her work with birds, smells and mate choice.

Roller Derby 101

A PhD-level evolutionary biologist explains the rules of roller derby. She should know. (She's a referee.)

Chunk Rock Girl

On weekends, Danielle's a roller derby referee for the Lansing Derby Vixens.

Angry Birds, Loving Birds

Evolutionary biologist Danielle Whittaker dishes on the comedic side of studying how birds mate... it sometimes involves Barry White.

Blog Posts

Welcome Danielle Whittaker!
“Where I Work” with Danielle Whittaker
The Secret Life Questionnaire©
Ask Danielle Your Questions


About Danielle Whittaker

Danielle Whittaker is the Managing Director of the NSF-funded BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action at Michigan State University. Her primary research focus is on birds, what they can smell and what those smells tell them. On weekends, she’s a roller derby referee for the Lansing Derby Vixens.

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.