Biography

Melissa Rohde is a graduate student pursuing her doctorate degree in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow conducting research on groundwater management in water stressed regions, with a specific focus on India.

Her research at Stanford builds upon her MSc research at Oxford University, where she graduated with distinction in 2009 with a degree in Water Science, Policy, and Management.

Her MSc research led to the development of a watershed-monitoring program that has engaged local community members to collect hydrological data with her local NGO partners within the Jaisamand Lake Basin that has become part of a UNESCO program on the Global Network for Water and Development Information for Arid Lands (G-WADI) that promotes international and regional cooperation to strengthen water management. The main objective of this monitoring program is to engage villagers in monitoring their own environment with the assistance of national and international agencies. For this work she has also been awarded a Graduate Public Service fellowship from the Stanford Haas Center for Public Service and is also a fellow for the US Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security program at Purdue University. In addition to her primary research at Stanford, she is also conducting research with the Water in the West program on a project that is focused on designing effective data visualizations that clearly communicate the impacts of groundwater overdraft in California.

Aside from her research endeavors, for the third consecutive year, she has been involved in the student-led chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) and serves as the Project Leader for the Solar Irrigation design team, which is currently developing a multi-use solar system that aims to tackle the problem of water and energy scarcity for smallholder farmers. Her involvement in outreach activities prior to attending Stanford also include serving as Chief Science leader for a group of young adults on a British Schools for Exploring Society (BSES) expedition to the Indian Himalayas in Ladakh, and creating the first International Polar Year (IPY) Field School in Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic.

With a prior research focus on climate change during her BSc in Biological Oceanography at the University of British Columbia in Canada, she was also involved in a field research project in Antarctica where she spent 5 weeks in a remote field camp on an ice-drilling project to extend the climate record 2 billion years ago.

Aside for her passion for water issues and communicating science to the public, Melissa enjoys exploring the outdoors, cooking, knitting, and gardening. She is a dual US/Canadian citizen, born in the freezing cold maritimes of Canada to a Puerto Rican mother and mid-west father, and moved to the USA at 5 where she grew up in Massachusetts.