Melanie Grasso

Undergraduate Fellow


What brought you to Tyson?

Lexie introduced our environmental science club at Southeast Missouri State University to Tyson, and I had been looking for an internship. I've really been interested in being able to communicate science to the general public and reasons why it should matter to them and how it is directly relatable to their life. Obviously we care because we're like, 'nature has intrinsic value and it's beautiful and we want to help it,' but a lot of other people don't feel that way. As an environmental biology major, I've been interested in field studies as a potential future career. I wanted to be outside to see if outdoor ‘grunt work’ was what I wanted to do. Plus I have really been interested in plants recently. When I found out about the Forest Biodiversity team, I thought it was perfect.

I took a plant biology course this last semester and that got me interested in plants. We started off learning about the reproductive systems of moss and other bryophytes. I've always been visually attracted to moss. It's one of my favorite plants. It comes in so many different forms, and that stuck out to me because I noticed there's a lot of moss around here.”

How will you incorporate that into your independent project?

“It's been shown that plants on buildings can increase energy efficiency. I can study moss in correlation with soil temperatures in order to implement it into urban environments, and use it to mediate the effects of urban heat islands and incorporate it into building structures to increase energy efficiency.”

Melanie worked with Jonathan Myers' Forest Biodiversity team during summer 2018. Learn more about their long-term temperate forest research here and their prescribed fire experiment here.