Thank you for the feature on the artwork of the late Prof. Henry Horn. I shall never forget him for the simple reason that I would not have graduated had he not been on the biology department faculty during my undergraduate years. He was a wonderful teacher who truly loved his subject. Our “laboratory” consisted of the woods, streams, lakes, and fields of Princeton and its environs.
When I approached Dr. Horn to ask him to be my thesis adviser, I told him that a subject that interested me greatly was the effect of human activity on migratory waterfowl populations in North America. He said, “That’s a topic, but it’s not a thesis. What is your thesis?” The teaching had begun in earnest. I said, “My thesis is that properly regulated waterfowl hunting poses no long-term threat to populations of these avian species, but other human activities do.” He seemed somewhat skeptical and asked me how I proposed to support such a thesis. I said, “I’m not sure.” (A more truthful answer would have been, “I have no idea.”) Dr. Horn said, “Well sit down and let’s talk about that.” Together we mapped out a research and statistical analysis methodology that became the basis for my thesis.
More than 50 years later, much of the regulatory framework surrounding duck and goose hunting in North America is based on the very factors that Dr. Horn helped me identify and analyze (wetlands conservation, elimination of toxic lead shot, etc.). I am not suggesting my thesis had anything to do with that — indeed, I have been told by game biologists and conservation experts over the years that we were many years ahead of our time.
My only regret is that I lost contact with Dr. Horn over the years and never really told him of the impact I have tried to describe in this letter. I can only hope that younger alumni reading this will learn from my experience and reach out to faculty members who have similarly impacted them.