Photos courtesy of Daniel Tropper July 15, 2020
UD student wraps up marine science major, now focusing on MBA
When University of Delaware student Daniel Tropper was in high school, his teacher and mentor, Vincent Cericola, had several fish tanks in his classroom where he would keep the fish that he collected from fishing adventures in the local area.
Cericola taught Tropper about the ocean, as well as the names of the different fish and how to take care of the fish tanks, during his marine science class. It was that teacher, as well as an internship at the Long Island Aquarium during his days as a high school student, that hooked Tropper on marine science and made him want to explore the topic further as an undergraduate at UD.
“Mr. Cericola was pretty much the reason that I wanted to do marine science,” said Tropper. “He was the coolest guy, he knew all this stuff about fish in the ocean and I was like, ‘I want to be that guy. I want to know that much about it.’ So he convinced me, and he showed me the ropes.”
Tropper graduated from UD with an undergraduate degree in marine science from UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment (CEOE) in the winter of 2019, and he is now working on a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in UD’s Alfred Lerner School of Business and Economics. That master’s degree will be important as Tropper said that his ultimate goal is to one day co-own and operate an aquarium with fellow Blue Hen and marine science student Audrey Ostroski.
The two met during their freshman year marine science colloquium class and their friendship grew when they lived in Lewes as part of the Semester-in-Residence Program at UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus.
The idea to start an aquarium together began over pizza and a bonfire when Ostroski told Tropper about her goal to one day own an aquarium.
“Danny expressed interest in joining me but I didn't take him seriously,” said Ostroski. “I started to take him more seriously a couple months later when he mentioned wanting to be my partner again. At this point, I had gotten to know him and I knew he worked hard, was intelligent and capable, and that we shared similar interests and values. Ever since, we've been partners. It's going to be a huge help for him to have that MBA and it's great having a partner like Danny in this journey. He’s one of my best friends.”
Tropper envisions Ostroski handling any potential research aspect of the aquarium while he will use his MBA to focus on the business portion.
“She loves [marine science] research, any type of it. She loves that whole process,” said Tropper. “I enjoy the science but one of us needed to do the business side. I wanted to do my Master of Business Administration at Delaware because I already knew everyone here, and if I needed support, I knew where to get it rather than starting fresh somewhere else.”
Time at UD
While an undergraduate at UD, Tropper was exposed to a breadth of marine science research. He worked with Danielle Dixson, associate professor in CEOE’s School of Marine Science and Policy (SMSP), using a computer program to measure the shells of baby horseshoe crabs.
He also worked with two other SMSP associate professors, Jonathan Cohen and Mark Warner, during the Semester-in-Residence Program. This work focused on analysis and data gathering on the behavioral aspects of a copepod called Acartia tonsa and how they reacted to different levels of light and food. Acartia tonsa are an important species for indicating environmental health so the researchers wanted to see how they are affected by ocean acidification, global warming, and other changes in the environment.
While living in Lewes, Tropper was also exposed to UD’s Robotic Discovery Laboratories. When he got back to the Newark campus, he worked with Kimberly Oremus, assistant professor in SMSP, looking more at the policy side of marine science.
This broad exposure to marine research made Tropper realize that he enjoyed everything about the field.
“I love it all. All the classes I have taken involving marine science are all super interesting,” said Tropper. “Whether it be corals, coastal ecosystems, physical stuff like robotics, they all gave me a totally different perspective on everything.”
In addition to these experiences, Tropper also participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and in 2019, he interned with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Working with NASA’s Earth Science Division in the Student Airborne Research Program (SARP), Tropper spent eight weeks in California working on atmospheric science and remote sensing. With 28 fellow SARP students, he spent two weeks in Palm Dale gathering data, talking with employees of NASA and getting lectures about all the resources and the equipment that they use. He then spent the next six weeks at the University of California-Irvine where he lived on campus and analyzed the data that he had gathered.
For his project, Tropper looked at toxins coming out of Lake Elsinore in Southern California, specifically toxins produced by algae in the lake as they travelled into the atmosphere and seeing how they were distributed around the surrounding community.
In addition to getting the chance to conduct field research on his own project, Tropper said it was beneficial to work with and learn about the research projects being conducted by his fellow SARP students.
Tropper said he is thankful to all of the professors who helped him through his undergraduate time at UD, especially his adviser Joanna York, assistant professor in CEOE.
He is also thankful that he chose to attend UD, as he knew from the moment he visited that he would enjoy not only the research, but also the relationships he would form with his fellow students and professors.
“I came to visit Delaware and it was beautiful. I met with some faculty who answered all the questions I needed. Me and my parents met with a student at Trabant. She was talking to us and it was personable and I thought, ‘I kind of like that.’ That was the biggest reason I came here,” said Tropper. “UD is one of the best places to study marine science, hands down. Now that I graduated, I’m getting sentimental about it. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my advisers and professors and my cohort who helped me get here.”