O'Connell, Caitlin 1965–

views updated

O'Connell, Caitlin 1965–

(Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell)


Born 1965; married; husband's name Tim Rodwell. Education: Fairfield University, B.S.; University of Hawaii at Manoa, M.S.; University of California at Davis, Ph.D.


Home—San Diego, CA. Office—School of Medicine, Stanford University, 801 Welch Rd., Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail—[email protected]


Educator. Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Etosha National Park, Namibia, contract researcher for three years; Center for Conservation Biology, former research affiliate; Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, postdoctoral fellow in Clark Center Bio-X Program, became assistant professor. Operates Triple Helix Productions (film company), with husband, Tim Rodwell. Cofounder and codirector, with husband, of Utopia Scientific (formerly Keystone Species International).


Stanford University Department of Pediatrics and Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, postdoctoral fellowship; research grants from National Geographic Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Science Foundation, TRAFFIC International, and Stanford University; Rotary International Vocational Scholar.


The Elephant's Secret Sense: The Hidden Life of the Wild Herds of Africa, Free Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Caitlin O'Connell is an expert in evolution and conservation biology, with a particular interest in the elephant and its ability to sense seismic activity and other shifts in nature. She first became intrigued by the animals during the three years she spent in Namibia as a contract researcher working for the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, when she sought to alleviate the ongoing conflicts between local farmers and elephant herds. It was then that she first became aware of the elephant's ability to "hear" over large distances through their feet and trunks, based on the vibrations that travel through the ground. Further research resulted in O'Connell's book, The Elephant's Secret Sense: The Hidden Life of the Wild Herds of Africa. The book serves as combination memoir and scientific report, recounting O'Connell's experiences during her initial trip to Namibia as well as her continued research into elephant senses that she performed in California. She suggests that elephants are accustomed to communicating over distance through vibrations in the ground, and that this method of communication makes them extremely aware of their environment as well. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews dubbed the book "a remarkable account of elephant communication, though difficult in spots." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found O'Connell's work to be "a successful combination of science and soulfulness, … studded with sympathetic insights and well-turned phrases."



O'Connell, Caitlin, The Elephant's Secret Sense: The Hidden Life of the Wild Herds of Africa, Free Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Australasian Business Intelligence, June 3, 2007, "Elephants down to Earth in Making Distance Calls to Neighbours."

Booklist, February 1, 2007, Nancy Bent, review of The Elephant's Secret Sense, p. 12.

Chronicle of Higher Education, November 10, 2006, Megan Lindow, "Eavesdropping on the Elephants."

Discover, July, 2001, Jocelyn Selim, "Reach Out and Stomp Someone," p. 13; March, 2007, Jennifer Barone, review of The Elephant's Secret Sense, p. 67.

Entertainment Weekly, March 30, 2007, Joan Keener, review of The Elephant's Secret Sense, p. 78.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of The Elephant's Secret Sense, p. 115.

Library Journal, February 1, 2007, Ann Forister, review of The Elephant's Secret Sense, p. 94.

Natural History, April, 2002, Alan Burdick, "Four Ears to the Ground: For an Elephant, the Foot May Be a Powerful Listening Device," p. 86; May, 2006, "Ear to the Ground," p. 12.

Publishers Weekly, January 8, 2007, review of The Elephant's Secret Sense, p. 44.

Science News, April 28, 2007, review of The Elephant's Secret Sense, p. 271.


BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (October 9, 2007), Carolyn Stalcup, "The Good Vibrations of an Elephant Herd."

Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (October 9, 2007), Barbara J. King, "Elephant Secrets, or, a Fever-Powered Trip from Virginia to Namibia."

Boston Globe Online,http://www.boston.com/ (June 28, 2007), Colin Nickerson, "Elephants' Toes Get the Message, Study Finds."

PBS Web site,http://www.pbs.org/ (October 9, 2007), author biography.

San Francisco Chronicle Online,http://sfgate.com/ (May 19, 2007), profile of Caitlin O'Connell.

Stanford University, Molecular Imaging Program Web site,http://mips.stanford.edu/ (October 9, 2007), faculty profile.

University of Hawaii, Malamalama Magazine,http://www.hawaii.edu/malamalma/ (October 9, 2007) Cheryl Ernst, "Understanding Elephants: UH Scholars Study Wild and Working Animals on Two Continents."

Utopia Scientific Web site,http://www.utopiascientific.org/ (October 9, 2007), founder profile.

About this article

O'Connell, Caitlin 1965–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article