Jennifer Melara

Jennifer Melara-Valle '23

Earth Science

Jennifer Melara-Valle

Earth Science major Jennifer Melara-Valle has researched Marine Ecosystems from two archeology sites in the Gulf of Maine, performed data analysis with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) scientists at Princeton University, and mentored fellow first-generation students about the college experience – all while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at FSU.

Not bad for a kid who had to navigate school while at the same time learning English after her family moved to the United States from El Salvador when she was 8-years-old. Despite this challenge Melara-Valle, who is a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) student, was already taking college level dual enrollment courses at Framingham State University when she was in high school.

“I really enjoyed my dual enrollment experience at FSU, so coming here for my bachelor’s degree made a lot of sense,” she says. “The University has been extremely supportive throughout my time here.”

Melara-Valle was excited to take part in a research experience after enrolling, and by her sophomore year was working alongside her professor and mentor Dr. Amy Johnston doing research in the field of paleoclimatology, or the study of past environmental conditions.

“You can’t study the impacts of Climate Change without understanding the historical conditions that existed,” she says.

The research enabled her to study the growth line patterns of bivales collected from two sites in the Gulf of Maine. She prepared samples by creating cross-sections of the bivales and examining them under a microscope in the laboratory.

In addition to her research with Dr. Johnston, she also completed a highly competitive summer internship at Princeton University working with scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The internship allowed her to use her data analysis skills (she has a minor in data analytics), by comparing observational data obtained from plankton imaging systems and satellite data to see how particle size distribution impacts ecological processes in marine ecosystems.

Melara-Valle is a peer mentor and takes a lot of joy in mentoring other first-generation students, including her younger brother who just enrolled at FSU.

“A lot of first-generation students come in and feel pretty lost and overwhelmed their first semester,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to help them anyway I can, whether it’s with their studies, or just navigating college life.”

Melara-Valle plans to take a gap year after graduating from FSU this year but plans to return to school and wants to earn her PhD in Geochemistry.

“Ultimately I would love to work for the NOAA one day performing research,” she says. “It’s a long road, but I’m excited about the future.”