Preferred Pronouns


Undergraduate Institution

UC Santa Cruz

Graduate Institution

Stony Brook University


Landscape Conservation Initiative


Director, Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program; Affiliated Faculty, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability

Current Location

Flagstaff, AZ


California, USA

Websites/Social Media

Professional Interests

  • Land Stewardship
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Wildlife, Ornithology, Endangered or Threatened Species

Melissa received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University and served as a National Science Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Columbia University. Her research focused on avian evolutionary ecology and conservation in Latin America, primarily Nicaragua, where she also engaged in participatory action research with local communities to advise farming cooperatives on the impact of land management practices and ecotourism initiatives on avian diversity. She has taught ecology and conservation field courses in Brazil and Nicaragua, mentored students from the US and Latin America, and developed environmental education curriculum while serving as a Fulbright Scholar. She is very excited to share her passion for science-based conservation, public outreach, and community development with the DDCSP scholars. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, birdwatching, yoga, salsa dancing, and exploring her new home in the American Southwest.