Ben Whittaker


I am gay and non-binary and I am postdoctoral fellow in animal behaviour.//

My STEM story started at the University of Leeds where I studied for a BSc in Ecology and an MSc in Biodiversity. I then worked research tech jobs in a mammalian lab at the University of Liverpool and an insect lab at the University of Edinburgh, before studying for my PhD at a marine lab in Swansea University. I am fascinated by animal behaviour and have been lucky to study some amazing systems, though my favourite has to be cleaner fish. These are fish that can either prove very helpful by removing parasites from other fishes or decidedly unhelpful by biting and competing with their companions. Much of my PhD was spent trying to understand factors influencing this behavioural spectrum, combining genetics with ethology, and now my postdoc continues this research at the University of Guelph. Being gay has shaped my STEM journey as I often question the status quo and being non-binary means I prefer study animals as individuals – rather than overly relying on categories like sex, size or age until I determine their importance.

Twitter: @ba_whittaker