Senior Curator of Life Support
Year zoo career began:
Dave is a Senior Curator of Life Support at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center where he oversees both the aquatic life support and water quality sections. Life support covers filtration systems and supporting equipment, while water quality covers monitoring aquatic systems for chemistry that is key to sustaining life in the aquarium’s system. Dave’s team requires technical savvy, mechanical aptitudes, knowledge of complex chemical processes, and a keen attention to safety to be successful. Dave’s daily duties include monitoring and adjusting automated control systems, conducting field inspections of related equipment, performing preventive and responsive maintenance, conducting water quality analyses, and collaborating with other sections of the aquarium.
Dave grew up in Chesterfield, VA, and attended Old Dominion University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1996. As part of his undergraduate studies, Dave completed practicums at the Virginia Aquarium which launched his career. Dave has held various positions at different facilities, including working at the South Carolina Aquarium for 10 years, becoming the lead life support technician at the Oregon Zoo, working as a curator at the Calvert Marine Museum, and working as a senior technician at the Living Planet Aquarium. Dave has also spent time completing paid and unpaid internships in different facilities, including the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Oyster Restoration Partnership, and the University of Southern Maryland.
Dave’s favorite part of his job is conceptualizing and designing new filtration systems that will meet the needs of aquatic life. A large system could take years to plan an install correctly. Dave recommends that aspiring aquarium professionals complete internships or volunteer experiences, because they allow you to test the waters and get your face out there. He also recommends that you pay close attention to the people you work with and find working environments that are collaborative and not competitive. Outside of work, Dave loves traveling, and has been to 49 of the 50 states and multiple countries. His favorite fish is the gafftopsail catfish because of their cute face, trailing whiskery smile, sharp dorsal and pectoral spines, and delicious taste!