Melissa is an urban ecologist whose internationally recognized work mobilizes cutting-edge urban theory and practical science for decision-making in cities. Before moving to the University of British Columbia she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, at Colorado State University, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Wits City Institute, at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. She received a BS in Conservation Ecology from Rutgers University, a PhD in Ecology from Colorado State University, and served as a postdoctoral research fellow with the Central-Arizona Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research site at Arizona State University.
Her transdisciplinary research program in South Africa is focused on sustainable urbanization processes, on resilient social-ecological systems, and on forging links between leading savanna scientists, conservation organizations, and local communities in the Global South. This innovative work has been a foundation for two NASA funded research teams studying conservation and people specifically in South Africa, and the development of urbanization hot spots and ecosystem service provisioning in South Africa, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.
Melissa considers herself to be an outdoor enthusiast. In particular, she loves snow boarding, backcountry skiing, paddle boarding, biking, hiking, and yoga. Since moving to Vancouver she is looking to pick up new water sports like surf-skiing, kayaking, and maybe kite-surfing! Most of her time outside of work is spent walking their family dog, carting around her very busy and active 10 year old, and spending time with her family exploring Vancouver and BC.