Melissa is a graduate from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, but her hometown is Tempe, Arizona. However, wanting to study marine life, she decided to move away from the desert. She graduated in May 2015 with a degree in both marine science and Spanish. Previous areas of research that Melissa has been involved with were related to fisheries management in North Carolina. Melissa worked as a Hollings intern with the NOAA Beaufort lab on a project marking otoliths with fluorescent chemical markers to aid in future age validation studies. Currently, her interests have changed to coral reef ecology working in the Reef Ecology Lab at KAUST. Here, she is looking at species of the giant clams, or tridacnids as holobionts. This project involves genetic analysis to determine species of tridacnids that live on the reefs of the central Red Sea and their associated symbiodinium. She also plans to investigate the microbial communities living on the clams. Melissa hopes that by studying the clam as a holobiont it will give insight on how to preserve the health of these invertebrates and possibly add to the research of other coral reef associated invertebrates as holobionts.