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Dan grew up in Ebensburg, a small town in west-central Pennsylvania located along the Allegheny Mountains. He received dual B.S. degrees in Geology and Computer Science at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). At IUP, Dan became interested in neotectonic and computer modelling research, which involved a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internship at the Virginia Insititute of Marine Science (VIMS), and an international internship at Academia Sinica (Taiwan). As a first-generation student, Dan was also a McNair Scholar at IUP, and has continued to mentor for the program.

Upon attending the University of Oregon for his PhD, Dan shifted his research focus into the field of volcanic geomorphology, studying the impact volcanic processes can have on long-term landscape evolution and analyzing the signature of intrusive magmatism on surface topography. Dan is excited about all things surface- and modelling-related, and has produced fruitful research results that led to an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF), multiple publications, and an internship with the USGS. Dan is also pationate about undergraduate teaching, and has participated in multiple workshops geared towards effective teaching strategies.