About Melissa's Work

Holding a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, with a completed postdoctoral fellowship in Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, and >20 years of experience underwater as a PADI certified scuba Divemaster, Melissa Garren brings substantial expertise to the intersection of technology and marine conservation. Melissa’s passion for and focus on the application of cutting-edge technologies to marine conservation solutions has remained constant since the earliest days of her scientific career when she completed her undergraduate work in Molecular Biology at Yale University, where her thesis brought novel molecular tools to bear on questions surrounding coral reef conservation. Over the past decade, she has developed a deep expertise in organizational operations with a particular emphasis on optimizing the triple bottom line— positive social, ecological, and financial outcomes. Prior to founding Working Ocean Strategies, she helped to found an impact-focused technology called Pelagic Data Systems (PDS) that serves sustainable fisheries globally. In 2014, PDS began as an idea and a protoype of hardware for solar powered data collection. At the time of Melissa’s departure in 2020, the company had become a reference point of success for impact-focused technology companies in the ocean space. Melissa served a dual role at PDS as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) & Chief Scientist where leveraged her extensive experience and practical knowledge working with local communities and diverse groups of stakeholders around the globe to foster fishery sustainability and healthy nearshore water quality. Melissa was awarded a Marine Protection Prize in 2018 from the National Geographic Society for her work with PDS and in 2019 Conscious Company named Melissa to its “35 World-Changing Women in Conscious Business 2019” – aptly placing her in a cohort transforming business, and the planet, for the better. A frequent speaker at international conferences on topics such as combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, Melissa is often called on as a technical expert by UN Agencies such as the FAO and national governments. She is also Adjunct Research Faculty at California State University Monterey Bay in the Department of Applied Environmental Science. And in 2019, Dr. Garren joined the Center for the Blue Economy Advisory Council, helping to guide the Center's priorities and strategies.