Dan was born and raised in a northern suburb of Chicago. After high school Dan would make his way to Northern Michigan University. Through his coursework at NMU he came to understand the scientific method and experimental design and built a solid foundation of knowledge in the physical and biological sciences.
Dan’s first work experience as a biologist was working on fisheries for the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Alaska and for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) out of the Rawlins Wyoming Field Office. In Rawlins Dan and another technician were tasked with assessing road / stream crossings to determine whether they represented a barrier to the movements of native fish populations. Dan also assisted coordinated efforts to remove exotic fish populations from river systems through the use of piscicides and monitoring stream fish populations. Field work involved developing abundance estimates, performing PIT tag studies, and collecting samples for toxicology studies. Dan had always enjoyed observing and identifying birds, but it wasn’t until he worked for Audubon California that he had the opportunity to explore this interest further. Dan’s experience with Audubon California stimulated his desire to study birds, but he was a neophyte and needed more experience.
Coming back to the BLM Dan got his break into the bird world. Dan worked with greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), tracking the movements of radio- collared individuals and conducting habitat assessments for the species. As part of this position, Dan also surveyed and monitored other bird species of concern in Wyoming. It was about this time, when Dan became fascinated with seabirds. Luck was on his side again and he caught another break. In 2010, Dan headed to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Tern Island Field Station in Hawai'i.
Over the course of seven months working at Tern Island, Dan gained invaluable experience as a seabird biologist. He established a study investigating plastic ingestion by the seabirds and shorebirds of the island. This study established new baseline datasets for seabird and shorebird species never before investigated for plastic ingestion. After Tern Island, Dan spent the rest of the summer / fall working with a new suite of seabirds on the Barren Islands within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Dan returned to Tern Island the following winter to continue his project on the community-wide patterns and impacts of plastic ingestion on seabirds breeding on this remote island. This research was the focus of his MSMS thesis project at HPU.
After defending his thesis in May 2015, Dan moved to the Aleutian Islands to work on seabird monitoring in the Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge.