Melissa is the COO & Chief Scientist for an impact-focused technology company based in San Francisco, CA that is innovating hardware and data analytics to provide solar-powered vessel tracking solutions to the 95% of global fishing fleets that have not previously had access to such technologies. She received her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, studying under Professor Farooq Azam. The focus of her doctoral research was the effects of coastal pollution on the microbial processes that support large-scale ecosystem health. She specifically studied these interactions on coral reefs exposed to two major sources of coastal pollution – aquaculture and sewage effluents – with the aim of finding more sustainable solutions for both aquaculture and sewage treatment practices. She continued her work on coral-microbe interactions in a postdoctoral position in Civil & Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she applied cutting edge microfluidic technology to understand how and why so many corals are becoming infected by microbial diseases around the globe. By combining tools from engineering and biophysics, she was able to study marine diseases at the scale on which it actually occurs: the microscale. As it turns out, the tools and analytics used to identify behaviors of individual bacteria from high-resolution video microscopy are nearly identical to the analytical tools required to understand the individual behavior of fishing vessels from high-resolution GPS tracks. This is how she transitioned to her current work at Pelagic Data Systems.
Melissa holds a B.S. in molecular biology from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.
Fellow at a Glance
Pelagic Data Systems
Conservation Science & Biology
Carmel, CA 93923