Dana Tricario

Ana Zangroniz
Dana Tricario
Track: Marine Conservation
Graduated: December 2016
What is your current job/project and main responsibilities? Please tell us as much as you like about what you are doing. 
 Currently, my job is Outreach Coordinator at Miami Waterkeeper, a non-profit that aims to provide swimmable, drinkable and fishable water to all of South Florida. My main job duties are to oversee outreach and education to local stakeholders, elected officials and other members of the community through various platforms. One of the most rewarding events that I planned was a BioBlitz citizen science event that combined my love for field work, with my skills in education the general public. I planned and implemented a day that had recreational divers and scientific divers surveying coral health, and the data collected from this successful day will go on to inform policy and protect local reefs from the impacts of urbanization.

However, working at a non-profit means wearing many different hats. I love that every day can be different. For example, through the political and legal advocacy that defines Miami Waterkeeper, I have learned a great deal about how local and National politics functions, and how to use this information to influence decisions. Additionally, I assist with grant applications and grant reports, manage interns, assist in water quality monitoring, the list goes on and on. You name it, and someone who works for a smaller non-profit is likely doing it.


 Why is what you are doing important?

What I am doing is important because I am a huge advocate that there is incredible science in the World, but the problem is that often, it is inaccessible to the public. I love the freedom of being able to communicate marine science to the general public in ways that allows them to understand the information, and in a way that can give them context as to why they should care. I have always been incredibly enthusiastic about this field, and so the ability to disseminate this information and get others just as excited to make a difference as I am, is invaluable.

 What was your MPS track? 

Marine Conservation

 Please tell us about your time here at RSMAS. Provide one of your favorite memories.

My time at RSMAS was incredibly rewarding in more ways than one. I always assumed moving immediately after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree would be difficult for me. I was still in the undergrad mode, I was worried I would not be able to have as close of friends as I did in the Northeast, and I had no idea what to expect from the Miami area. What I learned was that RSMAS is a place that stands alone when it comes to the community that it provides for its students. Immediately, I was welcomed into a supportive group of friends who were just as smart as they were fun. I learned so much from them, and I have made lifelong friendships that I will be forever grateful for.

            I have also found so many mentors from previous classmates and many professors who have our best interest at heart. I feel so lucky to have this RSMAS family while I am in Miami, and wherever I may go in the future.

            One of my favorite memories was the Halloween party my first year in Miami. I had never been to a function where professors and students all could go to a magical place (like Wet Lab), and have so much fun altogether. I think these events are what truly sums up the RSMAS experience.

Tell us about your MPS internship. How did this internship help you get to where you are today?

 My MPS internship was at Biscayne National Park as one of their fish and wildlife interns, specifically focusing on lionfish removal. This internship was everything I could have asked for as I started a career in this field. Not only was it a paid internship, but I was able to be in the field nearly every single day for 10 months, alongside incredible divers, researchers and mentors. Becoming a research diver at the University of Miami helped me obtain hundreds of scientific dives and I become well-versed in so many resource management activities. In particular, I helped remove hundreds of invasive lionfish using pole spears, took part in roving fish surveys of reef fish, sampled diseased corals, assisted in designing a marine debris project, surveyed beaches for sea turtle nests, and more.

            This internship gave me so much insight into field operations. In particular, I became much better at trouble shooting and adapting plans for the day depending on the circumstances. It also reminded me of the importance of teamwork, collaboration and safety when trying to monitor resources in an ever-changing work environment. Additionally, it also gave me the opportunity to be hired straight out of my internship. I was hired on as a term Biological Science Technician for the National Park Service, spending most of my time doing similar work to my internship while also overseeing interns. This job also called for some time in the interpretation division, where I honed in on my education skills as I spoke to the public about Biscayne National Park, its resources, and the treats they faced. This internship gave me so much interdisciplinary experience that I was able to transfer to my jobs moving forward. While I miss this job, I still volunteer as a scientific diver often so I can keep going back to my favorite place.

List and describe 2 of your favorite classes at RSMAS. Why were they your favorite?

 My two favorite classes were Scientific Diving and Marine Conservation Biology.

Scientific diving made me a much more aware and skilled diver. Not only have I used the skills from this class consistently since I graduated as I did research for the National Park Service and other entities, but it also made me feel confident to move forward and obtain my PADI Divemaster certification. Being underwater was always my second home, but this class really solidified that.

Marine Conservation Biology taught me a lot about the many issues that the marine environment faces, and how to communicate that to an audience. Presently, I am comfortable in this skill, but when I first came to RSMAS, I was very nervous to do this. Through presentations and debates, I found my voice in this class, and it has become an asset to me ever since.

 What piece of advice would you give to current or incoming MPS students?

My biggest advice to current or incoming MPS students would be to utilize the connections you make here. It’s a small marine science world, so it’s important to work hard, collaborate with, and learn from others. It is rare to find so many like-minded and wonderful people willing to help in one area, so take advantage of that RSMAS community as best you can!


Lionfish in Biscayne National Park (Part of my deliverables on my internship project. Created by the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center): https://vimeo.com/145456823
Little Salt Spring Video (I created for fun): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SebrZVKlhcY
My Miami Waterkeeper Bio: https://www.miamiwaterkeeper.org/dana

Do not forget to include any photos/website links/etc. you would like us to share. Please provide us with any photo credits as well. Thanks again for your time!