University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Resources for Faculty

New CAS Faculty

Melissa Pespeni, Assistant Professor of Biology

Melissa Pespeni

Assistant Professor of Biology

Melissa Pespeni, Assistant Professor of Biology, grew up in Okinawa, Japan and later in California.  In 2002 she received both her B.S. in Biology, specializing in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, and her B.A. in Critical Gender Studies from the University of California, San Diego.  Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., she was a research associate at the University of California, San Francisco studying the mechanisms of cell stress response in the contexts of cancer and trauma.  As a National Science Foundation predoctoral fellow, she earned her Ph.D. in Biology at Stanford University in 2010.  Prior to joining UVM, she was a postdoctoral fellow leading a collaborative project between Stanford University and the University of California, Davis and a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University.

Melissa is an evolutionary biologist interested in understanding the genetic and developmental mechanisms that promote and maintain biodiversity, particularly in the contexts of complex natural ecosystems and rapidly changing climate conditions.  To reveal the relationships between molecules and whole organism phenotypes, Melissa integrates genomics, population genetics, developmental biology, physiology and ecology in both field- and lab-based investigations.  To date, her research has focused on understanding the capacity for evolution in changing climate conditions in sea urchins and the mechanisms of diversification in horned beetles.

In her spare time, Melissa likes to dance, play, and act silly with her two children and husband, as well as run, dance, cook, bake, hike, and simply be outside.  She looks forward to learning to ski, sail, and ice fish, and to building a PassivHaus in Vermont.

Last modified April 24 2015 05:06 PM