STILL READING PAPERS . . . .
Current Masters Student | James Cook University
BSc Marine Biology | James Cook University
Melissa is a research student at James Cook University, working in the Fish and Fisheries Lab, focusing on the human dimensions of elasmobranch conservation.
Melissa grew up in Toronto (Canada), and she took every chance to travel the world, falling in love with the oceans and its inhabitants. Before starting her Bachelor of Science degree at JCU, she worked for a large-scale landscape restoration company, managing a dynamic office team, and developing a positive, inclusive, and supportive working culture. After 10 successful years in her management role, and a drive for marine life conservation, she decided it was time to align her values with her passion and pursue a career in marine science. In 2020, soon after the start of her undergraduate degree at JCU, Melissa started participating in elasmobranch research projects as part of the Fish and Fisheries Lab. She worked on a literature review, which is being incorporated into the global IUCN report, assembling knowledge of the cultural connections to elasmobranchs around the world. It was during this time that Melissa was introduced to the social science aspect of conservation, and it resonated with her that understanding people is the key to understanding conservation problems. Since then, this realisation has fuelled her passion towards social sciences, and she has been reminded everyday how her research in elasmobranchs conservation will be forever intertwined with the understanding of people and their culture.
As part of her Masters by Research project, Melissa will explore the cultural connections that fishing communities in South East Asia have to sharks and rays. Harnessing her interpersonal skills from her previous role, Melissa hopes to build long-term trusting relationships with local communities and collaborators in South East Asia. She hopes her work will help develop culturally appropriate and sustainable management strategies for successful elasmobranch conservation.