What if, unbeknownst to you, someone-or something-was controlling your behavior for its own nefarious ends? Join photographer Anand Varma as he reveals this nightmare scenario being acted out over and over across the natural world, as unsuspecting hosts are compelled to nurture and protect mind-sucking parasites.
I grew up exploring the streams and wooded lots near my childhood home in Atlanta, Georgia. As a teenager, I picked up my dad's old camera on a whim and found that I could use it to feed my curiosity about the natural world-and to share my adventures and discoveries with others.
I graduated with a degree in integrative biology from UC Berkeley and now help biologists communicate their research through photographs. My work tells the story behind the science on everything from primate behavior and hummingbird biomechanics to amphibian diseases and mangrove forests.
Since 2006, I have assisted David Liittschwager, Christian Ziegler, Joel Sartore, and Tim Laman on 13 articles for National Geographic. In 2010 I was awarded a Young Explorer Grant from the National Geographic Society to photograph the wetlands of northern Patagonia. Since then, I have photographed two feature stories for National Geographic. My first story, "Mindsuckers," appears on the November 2014 cover.
Above photo: A Schlieren portrait of my thermal plume (body heat) taken by Gary Settles at the Penn State Gas Dynamics Lab. Schlieren imaging uses precisely aligned optics to show tiny variations in the density of air. This is not a composite image or a photoshop trick. It was taken with an off the shelf SLR camera, an automotive bulb, a series of lenses, and a 6ft telescope mirror.