Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Melissa is a Research Scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, conducting work on arctic clouds, radiation, and sea ice. Melissa graduated with a B.S. in meteorology, then earned her M.S and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science. She is an experienced leader working towards promoting and advancing an equitable, inclusive, and diverse STEM enterprise: from serving as the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, to her role as Vice President of the Earth Science Women’s Network, to co-founding a new initiative called Science Moms!
What’s your favorite part of your job or STEM career?
All of the amazing people that I get to talk with, work with, and learn from. As a scientist and educator, I really enjoy mentoring the next generation of scientists so they see our field of an atmospheric science as a place in which they belong and can thrive in.
What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
Be the change you want to see.
Tell us about a couple of favorite books, podcasts, TV shows, or movies.
Books: The Giving Tree, Their Eyes Were Watching God, All We Can Save
Podcasts: Snap Judgment
TV Shows: Top Chef, Real Housewives
Movies: Love and Basketball, Love Jones, Little Mermaid (maybe because of my daughter)
How have you overcome challenges in your education or career?
As an undergraduate student there was a time that I was ready to just give up. Quit. At the time, I wasn’t able to pinpoint the root cause of the struggle as I was doing well in school. What I later realized was that I didn’t have a strong sense of belonging and was questioning if this was the field for me. After a summer research experience where I was around other students who looked like me and who loved weather as much as I did – I finally felt like I had a community.
When did you know you wanted to pursue STEM?
As a young child ~7 I had this huge fear of tornadoes. And I would call the National Weather Service hotline daily to see if we would have a tornado warning or watch. Keep in mind, I grew up in Maryland and tornados weren’t too prevalent. But it was something that sparked my curiosity and made me want to learn more about the weather. My curiosity turned into a passion for learning.
Where do you get energy and motivation, outside of work?
Spending time in my craft room. It’s my own room in the house to center myself, be creative, and gain inspiration. I love doing paper crafts, scrapbooking, and I’m even dappling in a little watercolor. Outside of crafting, I love baking, gardening, and doing all of these things with my 5-year-old daughter, Mia.
How does your work and/or other activities make the world a better place?
Recently, I co-founded a new initiative called “science moms.” As climate scientist and moms, we care about climate change because of our kids. We know that other moms across the country are worried too but they don’t have the resources to understand the climate issue completely and aren’t sure what they can do to tackle it. We’ve founded Science Moms to get other moms the information they need to make a difference. The goal of Science Moms is to educate, inspire, and empower moms – as scientists and moms, we want to provide moms with climate change information and the resources they need in a way that’s relatable to them – so that they can process, understand, and feel comfortable sharing and having conversations and ultimately take action.