Hoffman, Dan

  • Dan Hoffman
  • Department of English, Princeton University
  • Abstract Title: Academic Visions

Bio: Daniel Hoffman received his Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology in 1999 from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, completed post-doctoral training at Columbia University, and is now an Associate Professor in the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Epidemiology. Dr. Hoffman's area of expertise is energy metabolism, body composition, and international nutrition. The focus of Dr. Hoffman's research program is to study the relationship between poor growth in childhood and the development of chronic diseases in adulthood. Dr. Hoffman directs or collaborates on research projects in Brazil and Mexico to better understand how poor growth early in life influences metabolism and body composition later in life, which are potential risk factors for chronic diseases. In addition, Dr. Hoffman is a Co-Principal Investigator of a project in Kenya and Zambia to evaluate the impact of increased intake of African-Indigenous Vegetables on dietary diversity and health in rural households. In terms of photography, Hoffman received training at Georgetown University and the International Center for Photography.  He has his images on permanent display at the Tufts University Human Nutrition Research Center, exhibited at Peddie School Fine Arts Gallery, and published in National Geographic Traveler, The Sun, BBC Travel, and as well as a number of trade publications. A sample of his completed projects include “Golden Gai” that documents life in former shantytowns of Tokyo that have been converted into microbars, daily life of Roma in Italy and Bulgaria, “The Worm” that explores life above and below an elevated highway in São Paulo, Brazil, “Samba” that attempts to capture the passion of Brazil’s national dance, as well as “Religion in Kibera” documenting the role of evangelical churches in Kenya’s largest slum.

Abstract: We all enter academia to pursue some intellectual question that advances our particular field of study. Yet, it is often underappreciated that faculty are more than their narrow field of research. For some, they may be avid hikers, volunteer first responders, or classically trained musicians. In my case, I entered academics after spending considerable time and effort to become a documentary photographer. After some years of struggle, I found a way that my life did not have to be academics or photography, paving the way for my avocation to integrate with my vocation. Since that point, I have been able to let my research develop and expand while working to document not just the research, images that are used for educational purposes, but to engage the distinct communities where we work. The outcome of this integration has been fruitful in a number of photography displays, publications, and individual prints that are provided to study participants or community groups as gifts. In hindsight, the skills I acquired for documentary photography have been used extensively in field research in marginal communities. In addition, I incorporate a number of research skills into my photography, reflecting the complementary and integrated approach of expressing oneself through art and science.