- Social science in marine and forest resource management and ecosystem sciences
- Cultural dimensions of ecosystems
- Wild and traditional food practices (marine and terrestrial systems) in Pacific Northwest
- Environmental justice issues
Melissa is the joint social science liaison with Washington Sea Grant and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC). Her work includes collaborating with NWFSC, University of Washington School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, and coastal communities to incorporate measures of human wellbeing into marine planning. Melissa also partners with researchers at Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and University of British Columbia to study the connections between shellfish harvesting, sense of place and quality of life. She is involved in Washington Sea Grant and NWFSC’s ocean acidification programs, studying how our changing seas might impact the social and cultural values of Washington coastal communities.
Prior to her affiliation with NWFSC in 2012, Melissa was a core research primary investigator at the Institute for Culture and Ecology and worked in collaboration with the USDA Pacific Northwest Research Station on community-based natural resource management in the Pacific Northwest. Melissa earned a master’s and doctorate in environmental anthropology at the University of Washington, building on earlier bachelor’s degrees in sociology and Spanish from Whitworth University. A Puget Sound resident for many years, Melissa is active in regional ethnobotany, historical ecology, mycology and related place-based foods initiatives. In her spare time, she forages for wild foods, experiments with felting and fermentation, and enjoys traveling with her partner. Follow her on Twitter at @mpoetree.