We never know what an #RITPhoto alum is going to do after graduation.
We are always surprised and so very proud of the diverse and important careers many alums have found.
As technology changes, new and evolving career opportunities are created.

name: Evan Burrows graduated 1996
degree: BFA in Professional Photographic Illustration with a Biomed twist
Employer and job title: Acorda Therapeutics, Inc., Director – Digital Strategy & Innovation


What are doing now?
I’m the Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation at Acorda Therapeutics, a world leading biotechnology company who’s mission is to develop therapies that restore function and improve the lives of people with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS). In my role, I help build and implement digital solutions on projects for the commercial, medical, communications, and clinical departments as well as HR. These projects range from interactive visual sales aids on tablets for our sales force, to our intranet and internal corporate digital signage TV’s development, to clinical trial recruitment strategy, to mobile app development for patients with MS, to development of our corporate, disease state and brand websites, to sitting on the social media task force (how can Acorda effectively use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and to sitting on teams for new product launch readiness. My days are filled with a blend of creative, IT, corporate and science influenced challenges that I am tasked with coming up with streamlined digital solutions for. Ultimately, I feel like I’m innovating next generation digital health solutions to foster wellness and improve the lives of people with neurological disorders.

How did the career come to be?
In 1995, Michael Peres paired me up with an internship at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which kicked off a trajectory I never could have imagined. The timing and wave I caught with the digital shift in photography to the explosion of the Internet, followed by iPods, iPhones and apps, and then social media has evolved into an amazing career of ongoing change. With each role, I’ve adapted to the ever changing landscape of demands that are presented to biomedical research organizations trying to push breakthrough medicine to patients in need.

How has your photo education helped you in preparation for your first job, and in your career since?
I recently caught up with photo alumni Chris Messley, and we were talking about the good old days. While talking about my methodical and rigorous approaches needed to execute a fundraiser that I was coordinating, he said something like, “that right there, is the motor that we learned at RIT.” I knew exactly what he was talking about. There are routines and skills that seemed like impossible challenges that i was exposed to in for example Summer photo tranfer  [aka boot camp] where I had to shoot 20 rolls, in 20 hours, and then print 20 photos). That experience baked into my system, a drive and motivation that I can use to execute any task or challenge, with commitment, precision and efficiency. I appreciate all that I learned at RIT and while I’m not currently snapping photos of retinas or insect parts, nor bathing in darkroom chemicals, the core knowledge and ethics of RIT’s disciplinary education set me on a path I could never have imagined. This same motor has helped me execute projects in extreme locations ranging from a slaughterhouse, hospital, research labs, press room floors, and beyond.

Did anything from your undergraduate education assist you in your career and life experiences?
Having the opportunity to get a taste of all flavors of photography (I went in under Advertising and wound up emphasizing in Biomed classes) gave me a much broader idea of opportunities. RIT has access to amazing resources, and at the time were loaned some cutting edge 1 megapixel digital cameras. We got to play and test these new tools and then give feedback on this new gear to the companies, faculty, cage staff and other students. Having amazing, world renowned professors, who really look out for you was also amazing. ESPRIT was in its infancy, and we had not really ventured in the web space at the time until 1995-1996. While I wasn’t on the production team, I was given the opportunity to shoot and have my photo included in ESPRIT, a bleeding edge new electronic photography student magazine. I remember borrowing a 4×5 scanning digital camera back that was on loan by DICOMED, and asking if I could bring a microscope up to the digital studios and capture a ridiculously long exposure photomicrograph of an anopheles mosquito. That was a very rare and expensive opportunity. I was also briefly exposed to the printing school and got a glimpse at printing press processes that helped later in my career (designing and doing press checks for Vertex Pharmaceutical’s annual reports).

Memories you might like to share from being a photography student?
I recall walking across campus on really snowy bright days, to get one of our eyes dilated for Ophthalmic Photo class, and being blinded on the walk back.

Catching bees on the photo building terrace and sedating them for a Photomicrography class. I took two of the legs and arranged them in an enlarger and projected them onto a Polaroid back for a photo called Bee’s Knees.

Work in the cage if you get the opportunity. You get to play with a ton of gear, learn how to maintain and repair gear, and meet and influence a ton of students. I recall telling some freshman who dropped their roll of film, that it was going to be out of focus from the impact. They were terrified…until after developing the roll.

Summer photo 2 boot camp was insane. All-nighters, hours in the darkroom bathing in chemicals, coming out to overcast skies and lake effect snow. Developing film in my bathtub.

While a few of us were at a park on a shoot, I recall being approached by a Kodak representative who asked if we would test out their latest disposable cameras.

Less academic memories include: skinny dipping in the Genesee River, polar plunging into Ontario, driving over to Toronto without a passport, running out for lunchtime Dibella’s subs, eating dozens of wings at the Distillery, cheap kegs of Honeybrown® and Cream Ale.

Contact Evan on LinkedIn:

Examples of the work you do or have done
Here are examples of current projects that that my team and I play roles in:
Internal corporate digital signage solution, SynapseTV:

Brand websites for both consumers and healthcare professionals:

Move Over MS website and MS self™, the Multiple Sclerosis Mobile App

Here’s what my RIT website looked like in 1996:

Student work from 1994  “Bee’s Knees”