Melissa is an Associate Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers. She writes a bimonthly column on wildlife photography for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and is a contributing editor to Audubon magazine. Her work is represented by National Geographic Image Collection.
In 2017, Melissa was awarded the Katie O’Brien Lifetime Achievement Award by Audubon Connecticut, for demonstrating exceptional leadership and commitment to the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. She also received NANPA’s Vision Award, given to a photographer every 2 years in recognition of early career excellence, vision and inspiration to others in nature photography, conservation, and education.
Melissa is passionate about ethics in wildlife photography. She advises the National Audubon Society on photography content and ethics, and created their Guide to Ethical Bird Photography with Kenn Kaufman. She has also advised National Wildlife Magazine and NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) on guidelines for ethical wildlife photography, and she served as Chair of NANPA’s Ethics Committee from 2014-18. She remains on the Ethics Committee as a member, and also serves on NANPA’s Conservation Committee. You can read more about her thoughts on ethics in her Outdoor Photographer column. She has also recently written on the issue for National Geographic: How to Photograph Wildlife Ethically.
Melissa worked for years at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, on elephant communication in the Bioacoustics Research Program. She was a research assistant for scientist Katy Payne on The Elephant Listening Project, and spent field seasons in the rainforest of central Africa studying forest elephants in the wild, where she learned to listen deeply and watch closely. She’s now back at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, working closely with the Lab’s “Bird Academy” throughout 2019 to create their first online bird photography course, for which she is the instructor. The course is slated for release in June 2020.
Her photographs and articles have been published in numerous magazines including Smithsonian, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer, National Wildlife, and Natural History. Her completed magazine assignments include a story for Audubon on American flamingos on Great Inagua in the Bahamas, and several for Smithsonian magazine: endangered Rothschild’s Giraffes in Uganda, Spirit Bears in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, the spring migration of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska, Snowy Owls at the nest in Utqiagvik, Alaska, and, most recently, Hudsonian Godwits in Chile (not yet published).
In the first few months of 2020, Melissa worked on assignments for National Geographic, Audubon, and Smithsonian, traveling to Chile, California, Florida, and Alaska..
Melissa has received awards and honorable mentions in national and international photography competitions, including Audubon (2015 Grand Prize winner), Nature’s Best, NANPA, and Birds as Art. Her fine art prints are in personal and corporate collections, and have been exhibited in numerous private galleries as well as a number of public venues, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.