Danielle N. Lee
Danielle N. Lee with field flags
2021

Danielle N. Lee

Biologist

Conducting research with respect, patience, and justice

meet danielle

Danielle N. Lee studies nuisance animal ethology, examining the natural history, behavioral biology, and morphometric traits of field mice and giant pouched rats across urban gradients in metro St. Louis, Missouri and Tanzania. From Memphis, Tennessee, she started exploring in local parks. In graduate school, she engaged students in experiential lessons in life sciences, environmental science, and urban ecology. She shares her science experiences via social media to increase minority participation in the sciences and is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Conducting research with respect, patience, and justice
Nominated by: Alexandra Sutton Lawrence TM'14
Class of 2021 Location USA
Lee with pouched rat on shoulder
Lee with pouched rat on shoulder

Nuisance rodents are the most innovative commensal animals known. Various species of field rats and field mice have successfully made a living off of humans for thousands of millennia. Some of the biggest public health challenges on the horizon will likely center nuisance rodents as vectors of disease and illness. My students and I do basic science and provide information in the service of applied research interests useful to communities in ongoing pest management battles, to public health researchers, and specifically to applied psychologists who train pouched rats to detect landmine explosives and diagnose tuberculosis exposure in patients.

“As we examine life history traits, ecology and the behavior of wild animals, we integrate and demonstrate the value of the contributions from all scientific practitioners and knowledge keepers,
regardless of age or credentials.”

- Danielle N. Lee

In 2012, as a post-doctorate researcher eager to make a name for myself studying African giant pouched rats in Tanzania, I soon realized that if I really wanted to understand pouched rat behavior and ecology, I needed to re-evaluate how I conducted myself and science. I was a guest and a learner first and foremost, and learning means listening. From local residents and Tanzanian scientists, I learned much about the natural history of this species.

The privilege of working internationally comes with the responsibility of preparing other Western scientists to do science that centers on respect, patience and justice, especially with regard to Indigenous peoples. I am committed to training students, guided by the principles of Service Scholarship. I model, instruct, and mentor students to evaluate traditional field-science practices. As we examine life history traits, ecology and the behavior of wild animals, we integrate and demonstrate the value of the contributions from all scientific practitioners and knowledge keepers, regardless of age or credentials. This improves the quality of the research we produce and enriches the fields of science overall. It invigorates the intellectual promotion and economic stability of disenfranchised communities and developing nations.

never stop exploring

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