Contract photographer Mark Moffett has developed a career that combines science and photography, in spite of being a high school dropout. Although his family was not academic, encouraged by his parents he sought out biologists by the age of 12. Soon he became a field assistant on research projects across Latin America.
After entering and eventually earning his B.A. at Beloit College in Wisconsin, Moffett taught himself macrophotography to document his 1989 Harvard Ph.D. under Professor E.O. Wilson on marauder ants. His first published images were of these ants in National Geographic magazine.
Upon completing his doctorate Moffett spent two years as curator of ants at Harvard. Still based at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, his research presently concerns insect and spider social behavior and the structure and dynamics of forest ecosystems, particularly their canopies. Recently he has been investigating canopies of the supertall coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest, for which he led (with Professor Steve Sillet of Humboldt College) the first ever ascent and study of the world's tallest tree, known as the National Geographic redwood.
In 1993 Harvard University Press published Moffett's book, The High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Rainforest Canopy. Today his research and National Geographic photography are interspersed with writing and public lecturing about rain forests.