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Graduation to Vocation: Innovative Solutions to Wildlife Challenges

Student hikes while studying abroad

Daniel Choi is graduating with an undergraduate degree in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology (FWCB). He will continue his studies at NC State and pursue a graduate degree in Wildlife.

Student hiking in the field What’s your favorite memory or class from your time at the College of Natural Resources? Why?

My favorite experience is working on extracurricular projects. My sophomore year, I got to work on a Bachman’s Sparrow research project. This year, I worked on a human dimensions project with Dr. Larson and my own capstone. I entered into a new idea, learning about it and its intricacies, and then saw the project develop. It’s rewarding to see something get built up and completed.

Tell us about a faculty member who influenced you.

Dr. Lara Pacifici has influenced me greatly. She was one of the first people I ever met from NC State. Not only has she guided me through the academic life (e.g., helping with choosing classes, understanding degree requirements, and offering advice for campus programs), but has set an extraordinary example for how to be passionate about the wildlife field and the people (namely, students) within it. She knows all her students by name, understands their background, and sincerely cares for them. It shows, and it makes her one of the best professors around.

What is unique about your work?

I am passionate about solving wildlife challenges with cross-disciplinary answers. While I am passionate for wildlife (I specifically like population modeling), I am also passionate for fields such as physics, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, biocultural conservation, and more. I learn about these fields in unison because I believe I can be an innovative and creative problem solver in wildlife when I make use of insights and ideas from other fields as well.

What motivated you to pursue your work?

I chose to major in wildlife after seeing it on a list of majors in high school. I liked animals, loved the outdoors, and found anything related to ecology fascinating. I quickly chose this is my field of study. But wildlife is just the specific field where I choose to apply my cross-disciplinary approach to problem-solving. I identify my career desires and goals according to my problem-solving ability, not the problem I’m solving. Right now, that problem is wildlife conservation. I’m less worried about what field I work, and more concerned with training myself to be effective and useful, whatever work I do.