Melissa is interested in the many ways that microscopic organisms support the health and vitality of our oceans. Although invisible to the naked eye, there are five million bacteria and fifty million viruses in an average teaspoon of clean seawater. These unseen communities are the masterminds behind the beautiful blue, vibrant, productive oceans we can see with our naked eyes. Much of her work to date has focused on the ways in which coastal pollution disturbs these healthy microbial processes, particularly on coral reefs, with the aim of finding more sustainable solutions for land and coastal water use practices. She is currently delving deeper into coral-microbe interactions by studying the ways humans can influence individual pathogen behavior. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she is applying cutting edge microfluidic technologies to understand how and why microbial diseases are infecting so many corals around the globe. By combining tools from engineering and biophysics, she is able to study coral disease at the scale on which it actually occurs: the microscale. She ultimately hopes to work at the interface of research and policy by facilitating the integration of microbial processes into conservation planning. Melissa holds a B.S. in molecular biology from Yale University and both an M.S. and a Ph.D. in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)