Melissa Mai

2019 Hertz Fellow

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Melissa Mai is finishing her Bachelor’s in Biophysics and Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University.

She began conducting research in Prof. Richard Cone’s group at JHU studying the stability of the vaginal microbiota. Melissa continued to pursue experimental research projects studying gene expression and development at the National Institutes of Health and protein evolution and structural biology at JHU.

Under the guidance of Prof. Brian Camley, she currently examines eukaryotic cell motility through computational mathematical modeling. She has developed a broad interest in quantitative, physics-based approaches to biologically relevant problems. She has also helped develop visualization tools for large clinical trial datasets as part of Pfizer’s Pharmacometrics group. Her honors include election to Phi Beta Kappa and the Astronaut Scholarship, which recognizes undergraduates demonstrating initiative, creativity, and excellence in STEM.

This fall, Melissa will begin her PhD studying biophysics at Harvard University. In her graduate work, she hopes to integrate both experiment and theory to delve further into cellular biophysics on a population scale. In her free time, Melissa enjoys painting and caring for her houseplants, and she has managed to nurture her sourdough starter – the fermented dough that makes sourdough bread rise – for nearly three years.