Bianca Briggs / Lantern photographer
The cold weather did not stop people of all ages from pouring into Jennings Hall Friday to hear Mark Moffett, National Geographic photographer, discuss the parallels of ants and humans.
John Wenzel, former Museum of Biological Diversity director and professor of evolution, ecology and organism biology, invited Moffett to give the museum’s annual public lecture.
Stephanie Dold, a graduate student in evolution ecology and organisms of biology, shared her anticipation.
“Mark Moffett is very well known for his study of ants,” Dold said. “I am excited to hear some of his anecdotes and see some awesome pictures.”
Moffett started the lecture with humorous antics that poked fun at himself.
“My parents were actually concerned when I was getting a Ph.D because they didn’t think that was a real job,” Moffett said with a laugh.
The first photo Moffett shared was of an ant standing on a green leaf with its head lifted towards the sky.
“We started from this perspective looking from the bottom up,” he said.
Moffett’s latest book, “Adventures Among Ants: One man’s remote explorations to chart and alien social world,” was the blueprint of the evening, with a focus on similarities between humans and ants.
Moffett said he was motivated to write stories about ants because he was tired of tales of traditional animal adventures.
“I was tired of hearing about pandas, I wanted to see if I could write a story about ants with adventure,” he said.
Moffett showed the audience pictures of a variety of ants from all over the world, including African ants, which use specialized techniques to communicate with one another in complex societies.
Moffett said he is less interested in photography and more focused on telling stories through his photos.
“Tons of people take good pictures,” Moffett said. “National Geographic needs stories.”
Moffett’s “stories” have won him numerous awards, one of which he said was particularly memorable.
“It’s pretty cool to get anything, but one of my favorites was from The Explorers Club. It was in New York,” Moffett said.
The acceptance of this award is what made it so memorable, Moffett said. He dropped five or six stories from a chandelier to receive his award.
“It was really different, (but) it’s much more fun to climb trees,” he said.
Moffett is a well-known scholar in the scientific realm, but he was not always enthusiastic about school.
“I think courses can only do so much, so if you meet the right people, and they’re excited about what they’re doing, it makes it more exciting,” Moffett said.
He dropped out of high school, and later with the help of several professors was able to continue his education.
“I always tell people to look for stories, whatever it is they want to do,” Moffett said. “Figure out a way to tell stories.”