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Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Daniel S. Morris ’94


Growing up, I was always fascinated by animals. I would spend hours poring over the beautiful images contained in National Geographic magazine. If a Jacques Cousteau film were showing on TV, you could count on me watching it. I didn’t realize then that I was focusing more on the images than the written content. At Princeton, I continued this passion for animals by pursuing a major in the ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) department.

The time came—in the second semester of my junior year—for us to choose our thesis advisers. I listened to the presentations of all the professors in the EEB department. They were all intriguing. But the one who stood out the most was Alison Jolly. Once I discovered she would take us to Madagascar for the fall semester of my senior year, I was all in. Anticipating that I would want to take “National Geographic-style” photos, I begged and pleaded my way into Professor Emmet Gowin’s photography class. There I discovered a side of myself that had been latent and never explored.

Developing new passions

I now work as a professional photographer for international commercial clients. My true love, however, is travel photography. I have learned so much by spending time among people from different cultural backgrounds. Language has become a new hobby of mine. I often miss the intellectual rigor of scientific research, but no profession is perfect! Had I never gone to Madagascar and experienced the lives and people of the developing world, I might have taken a different path (and certainly a more lucrative one). But my experience researching my thesis on the island of Madagascar forever changed my path and opened my mind to the myriad wonders of the world. 

I greatly value the experience I had in the EEB department. The professors were all so incredible. The many organizational and analytical skills I practiced are used daily in my profession. It was a wonderful experience. My only complaint is that I’m now forced to suffer the silly American “debate” on evolution from a painfully knowledgeable standpoint!