In fall 2018, Melissa enrolled as a PhD student in Population Health Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is housed within the Environmental Health department working on environmental epidemiology with Dr. Francine Laden. Prior to making the transition back to school, Melissa was a federal government employee for more than a decade. In 2017, she had the opportunity to spend three months at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China as part of an Embassy Science Fellowship. Her time in China reignited her passion for public health. She prepared graphics analyzing trends in the U.S. Embassy’s PM2.5 data and studied the growing consumer use of residential air purifiers and masks.
Melissa’s interest in environmental health dates back to her five years at Duke University. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Duke’s Environmental Science & Policy major, in 2007 she earned her Master of Environmental Management degree with a concentration in Environmental Health, as well as a Graduate Health Policy Certificate from the Sanford School of Public Policy. Melissa completed her master’s project with Dr. Marie Lynn Miranda’s Children’s Environmental Health Initiative (CEHI). She applied GIS and statistical approaches to evaluate lower Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) levels for lead and mercury. While at Duke, Melissa conducted independent air toxics research through a Stanback Internship with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and held work-study positions with Duke Recycles. She spent a semester at the Marine Lab where she served as a NSF Graduate STEM K-12 Teaching Fellow at a local middle school.
Upon graduating from Duke, Melissa sought to help craft evidence-based national environmental policies. She started out as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) working on indoor environment issues. In 2009, she moved to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where she held various roles in the Office of Atmospheric Programs, including review of alternatives to ozone-depleting chemicals, management of the voluntary responsible appliance disposal (RAD) program, and development of criteria for ENERGY STAR certified residential appliances.