Faculty voice:

Danielle Whittaker:
Chunk Rock Girl

Dec. 4, 2013

Danielle Whittaker is an evolutionary biologist who is an expert in mate choice behavior in birds and how they use scent in the process.

Most of you know me by the name Danielle Whittaker. I am the managing director of BEACON, and also an animal behavior researcher. I’ve blogged about my research a couple of times: Deciphering avian aromas and The sweet smell of (reproductive) success.  

Chunk Rock Girl on skatesYou may not know that I have another name. I am the head referee for the Lansing Derby Vixens, and my derby name is Chunk Rock Girl. I have been skating for about 2 years, and refereeing women’s flat track roller derby for about a year and a half. Modern roller derby is a serious sport, and was even under consideration for the 2020 Olympics. I practice at least twice a week and referee derby bouts almost every weekend.

Recently, the PBS/NOVA web series “The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers” invited me to appear on the show, to talk about science and about my “secret life” in roller derby. This Emmy-nominated series features all different kinds of scientists and the things we do when we’re not being scientists. 

I went to New York to film a studio interview and had a lot of fun. My interview included roller-skating, singing and finger puppets. Watch my 30 Second Science clip above now and catch my full profile during the season premiere on Dec. 5 on the website

The PBS/NOVA web series, "The Secret Life of Scientists," provides a playful, humanizing snapshot of innovators who are shaping our world. Each episode features one of today’s leading scientists, and shows what happens when the lab coats come off—like a biologist who is also a professional wrestler, or a NASA astronomer who puts on fifty pounds of historical costuming to recreate Renaissance dances.  

Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this season’s "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" will feature 16 scientists and engineers by the season’s end. 

Follow the Secret Life blog, and join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter @secretlifer