Emily Willingham

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Emily Jane Willingham
Born1968 (age 49–50)
Waco, Texas
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin
Known forScientific skepticism, work on endocrine disruptors
AwardsUT-Austin department of biological sciences professional development award, 1998
Scientific career
FieldsEndocrinology, urology
InstitutionsUCSF, Texas State University, St. Edward's University[1][2]
ThesisEmbryonic exposure to low-dose pesticides : dose response and effects on growth in the hatching red-eared slider turtle (2001)

Emily Jane Willingham (born 1968) is an American skeptical blogger and scientist known for her research into the red-eared slider turtle. She frequently blogs about autism, as well as genetically modified food controversies.

She is the joint recipient with David Robert Grimes of the 2014 John Maddox Prize, awarded by science charity Sense About Science, for standing up for science in the face of personal attacks.[3]

Willingham, along with co-author Tara Haelle have recently published The Informed Parent: a science-based resource for your child's first four years, which examines several child raising controversies.[4]


Willingham received her bachelor's degree in English in 1989 and her PhD in biology in 2001, both from the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her fellowship in pediatric urology at the University of California, San Francisco, from 2004 to 2006,[5][6] where she studied under Laurence S. Baskin.[1]


Willingham formerly ran the blog "A Life Less Ordinary", which she started in 2007 and which published its last post on November 25, 2011.[7] Willingham currently blogs for Forbes.com, where she states she writes about "the science they're selling you," which includes the disproven link between vaccines and autism,[8] as well as the Seralini affair.[9] She has also written three posts for Slate.com about, among other topics, what the motivation might have been for Adam Lanza to carry out the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. Her view is that his Asperger's syndrome was not a contributing factor to him carrying out the shooting.[10] In addition, she has contributed to Discover, where she has argued that the autism epidemic may, in fact, just be the result of diagnostic substitution and increased awareness of the disorder.[11] She was called "one of the sharpest science writers in the blogosphere" by Steve Silberman.[12]


Willingham has published 44 scientific papers, and, according to Google Scholar, her h-index is 22.[13] With regard to her research, Willingham has said that talking about it "has always carried a frisson of the risque,"[5] which is not surprising, given that it often has to do with hypospadias, a birth defect of the penis, and how they can be caused by synthetic chemical compounds, including vinclozolin.[14] Originally, however, Willingham researched the effects of pesticides on the red-eared slider while studying for her PhD.[15] She has also conducted research on endocrine disrupting chemicals such as atrazine with biologist Tyrone Hayes, a well-known advocate for banning atrazine.[16][17]

Selected publications[edit]

Scientific papers[edit]

  • Sheehan, D. M.; Willingham, E.; Gaylor, D.; Bergeron, J. M.; Crews, D. (1999). "No threshold dose for estradiol-induced sex reversal of turtle embryos: How little is too much?". Environmental Health Perspectives. 107 (2): 155–159. doi:10.1289/ehp.99107155. PMC 1566346. PMID 9924012.
  • Willingham, E.; Baldwin, R.; Skipper, J. K.; Crews, D. (2000). "Aromatase Activity during Embryogenesis in the Brain and Adrenal–Kidney–Gonad of the Red-Eared Slider Turtle, a Species with Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination". General and Comparative Endocrinology. 119 (2): 202–207. doi:10.1006/gcen.2000.7505. PMID 10936040.
  • Wang, Z.; Liu, B. C.; Lin, G. T.; Lin, C. S.; Lue, T. F.; Willingham, E.; Baskin, L. S. (2007). "Up-Regulation of Estrogen Responsive Genes in Hypospadias: Microarray Analysis". The Journal of Urology. 177 (5): 1939–1946. doi:10.1016/j.juro.2007.01.014. PMID 17437852.


  • Willingham, Emily (2010). The Complete Idiot's Guide to College Biology. Alpha Books.
  • Willingham, Emily; Myers, Jennifer Byde; Rosa, Shannon Des Roches; Greenburg, Carol (2011). Thinking Person's Guide To Autism. Deadwood City Publishing.
  • Willingham, Emily (2011). When Worlds Collide: The Troubled History of Bears and People in Texas. Amazon Digital Services.
  • Tara Haelle; Emily Willingham (2016). The informed parent : a science-based resource for your child's first four years. New York, NY: TarcherPerigee. ISBN 9780399171062.


  1. ^ a b "Candidate genes and their response to environmental agents in the etiology of hypospadias". Nature Clinical Practice Urology. Nature Publishing Group. 4: 270–279. 2007. doi:10.1038/ncpuro0783. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Research Fellows Trained". University of California, San Francisco. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  3. ^ 2014 John Maddox Prize, Sense About Science
  4. ^ Tara Haelle; Emily Willingham (2016). The informed parent : a science-based resource for your child's first four years. New York, NY: TarcherPerigee. ISBN 9780399171062.
  5. ^ a b Emily. "Emily Willingham: About". Emilywillinghamphd.com. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  6. ^ "CV". Nasw.org. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  7. ^ "A life less ordinary?". Daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com. 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  8. ^ "Vaccines Not Linked To Autism. Again". Forbes. 2013-03-29. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  9. ^ "Seralini Paper Influences Kenya Ban of GMO Imports". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  10. ^ Willingham, Emily (2012-12-17). "Asperger's and Newtown school shooting: Autistic does not mean violent". Slate.com. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  11. ^ Willingham, Emily (11 July 2012). "Is Autism an "Epidemic" or Are We Just Noticing More People Who Have It?". Discover. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  12. ^ Silberman, Steve (2 April 2012). "Autism Awareness is Not Enough: Here's How to Change the World". Public Library of Science. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Emily Willingham - Google Scholar Citations". Scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  14. ^ Vilela, M. L. B.; Willingham, E.; Buckley, J.; Liu, B. C.; Agras, K.; Shiroyanagi, Y.; Baskin, L. S. (2007). "Endocrine Disruptors and Hypospadias: Role of Genistein and the Fungicide Vinclozolin". Urology. 70 (3): 618–621. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2007.05.004. PMID 17905137.
  15. ^ Emily Willingham Biography
  16. ^ Hayes, T. B.; Anderson, L. L.; Beasley, V. R.; De Solla, S. R.; Iguchi, T.; Ingraham, H.; Kestemont, P.; Kniewald, J.; Kniewald, Z.; Langlois, V. S.; Luque, E. H.; McCoy, K. A.; Muñoz-De-Toro, M. N.; Oka, T.; Oliveira, C. A.; Orton, F.; Ruby, S.; Suzawa, M.; Tavera-Mendoza, L. E.; Trudeau, V. L.; Victor-Costa, A. B.; Willingham, E. (2011). "Demasculinization and feminization of male gonads by atrazine: Consistent effects across vertebrate classes". The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 127 (1–2): 64–73. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2011.03.015. PMC 4303243. PMID 21419222.
  17. ^ Willingham, Emily (11 July 2011). "What's Going On with Those Scandinavian Sperm?". Scientific American. Retrieved 15 January 2014.

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