Research InterestsResearch Interests
Melissa is broadly interested in disease ecology, community ecology, and wildlife conservation. She is co-advised by Dr. Nancy Simmons and Dr. Susan Perkins.
Her research focuses on the impact of human interaction on the bacterial microbiome of New World bats. As bats are forced into more frequent contact with humans through deforestation and agricultural conversion, there is a greater potential for them to pass pathogens to humans. This may occur directly (in the case of vampire bats) or indirectly through domestic animals and human-associated pests. In return, the presence of humans and their associated animals may change the microbial community of bats by influencing what they eat and the types of parasites that feed on them.
As a BS/MS student at Fordham University, Melissa studied the cutaneous lipid-based defenses of bats against the novel pathogen P. destructans, the etiological agent of White Nose Syndrome. She is passionate about educational outreach and the need for bat conservation through habitat preservation.
- The Effects of Epidermal Fatty Acid Profiles, 1-oleoglycerol, and Triacylglycerols on the Susceptibility of Hibernating Bats to Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Submitted to PLoS ONE.
- Franks, C.L., M.R. Ingala, R.E. Ravenelle, K. Dougherty-Howard, S.O Wicks, C. Herzog, R.J. Rudd. The Effects of Cutaneous Fatty Acids on the Growth of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the Etiological Agent of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). PLoS One, April 12, 2016.
Teaching ExperienceTeaching Experience
- Human Biology BISC 1001, Professor Dr. Eugenia Ribeiro-Hurley, Summer I 2015. Led all pre-lab lectures.
- Ecology: A Human Approach BISC 1002, Professor Dr. Jacqui Johnson, Summer II 2015. Led all pre-lab lectures and developed a new lab exercise in which students calculated the percent of invasive plant species along a transect of forest.
- Microbiology Laboratory BISC 3653, Dr. Jacqui Johnson, Fall 2015 / Spring 2016/ Summer II 2016. Led all pre-lab lectures, guided students in designing and conducting individual micro research projects which were presented at the undergraduate research symposium.
Graduate Teaching Assistant, Fordham University