Subject Matter Specialist, Planetary Sustainability
Melissa’s passion for community and accessibility to STEM was born while she attended MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland, Ohio. During this time, she founded an HPAC (Health Professions Affinity Community) chapter with NEOMED, a student-run organization that aimed to get high school students involved in solving community health problems and discovering medical careers. Her goal of becoming a doctor transformed into a general interest in science and research as she completed three years of laboratory research through the CLiPS Polymer Envoys Program at Case Western Reserve University, investigating optimal polymer composition for intrauterine biodegradable implants.
This culmination of experiences prepared Melissa for her time at the University of Virginia, where she majored in environmental science with a minor in global sustainability. She continued to get involved with the community through programs like Casa Alma, working to advance sustainable practices of a local urban farmstead for formerly homeless and low-income families. She also volunteered with Computers 4 Kids, where she mentored a high school student through STEM projects and college readiness lessons. Melissa’s favorite college experience though, was her internship with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, where she synthesized public unutilized data sets into an interactive GIS map to show forest health across the nation. This map continues to be used on the NFWF website to visually represent the foundation’s contributions to the environment.
Melissa’s career as an Environmental Scientist kicked off when she worked with Minnesota limnologists to research and develop a new method to eradicate zebra mussels. This method could eliminate the use of toxic molluscicides and reduce the return rate of these highly resilient mussels that threaten lake ecosystems. This project is still in the works, but she hopes to publish her research and that this method can be used to restore lake ecosystems thereby increasing biodiversity.
As a STEM consultant with TIES, Melissa’s work involves bringing her passions together to create engaging STEM projects for students to learn and take ownership over their impact on the environment through data analysis, lab research, and other valuable 21st-century career skills. Melissa aims to show students that human health relies on environmental health and they are capable of engineering solutions to improve their communities and the world.