UMSL alumna Danielle Lee

The science outreach efforts of a University of Missouri–St. Louis alumna have caught the attention of the White House.

It recently named Danielle Lee one of 10 “Champions of Change” for her work to support and accelerate science, technology, engineering and math opportunities for African American students, schools and communities. Lee earned her doctorate in biology from UMSL in 2010.

Lee is a self-styled “urban scientist” whose outreach efforts emphasize sharing science to general audiences, particularly under-served groups, via social media. She is a dominant presence on Twitter, and she writes a popular blog for Scientific American.

Her blog, “The Urban Scientist,” is hosted by the Scientific American Blog Network. In it she writes about her own research, urban ecology, evolutionary biology and diversity in the sciences.

Her current research finds her frequently traveling to Tanzania where her fieldwork involves examining the behavior of African Giant Pouched Rats. The rats have an acute sense of smell and are used in Africa to sniff out landmines. Every year, landmines kill 15,000 to 20,000 people, according to the United Nations.

Lee’s dynamic personality and research have attracted a lot of media attention; from National Public Radio to a recent article in OZY, an online news and culture magazine, which is also a partner of USA Today and NPR.

“Becoming a scientist meant I no longer had to wait for someone to give me the answer,” Lee said in the OZY article “Danielle Lee: Urban Scientist, Hip-Hop Maven, Genius.”

In the same article Lee’s research work on rats is heralded by her former PhD adviser and Founders Professor of Biology at UMSL, Zuleyma Tang-Martinez, who said it “has the potential for greatly affecting how people think about animal personalities.”

To read the full article visit the OZY website.

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez

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