Melissa Cronin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Conservation Action Lab at UC Santa Cruz studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with a Designated Emphasis in Coastal Science & Policy. Her research focuses on mapping and mitigating problematic marine fisheries bycatch, or the unintended capture of threatened marine species in fishing gear. She focuses mainly on manta and devil ray bycatch in small-scale and industrial fisheries. She uses an array of approaches including genetic analyses, spatial mapping, and social science methods to characterize problematic bycatch, and to propose tangible solutions to reduce it. She is also a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a National Geographic Young Explorer.
She is also interested in science communication, drawing on her background as an environmental journalist covering climate, politics, and wildlife crime. Her work has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Gawker, Grist, VICE, Popular Science, The Nation, and others. She is interested in how storytelling is part of the scientific process, and the ways in which collective narratives shape how science is perceived and acted upon.