Melissa (Millie) Chapman

Melissa (Millie) Chapman

PhD Candidate (She/her)

University of California Berkeley


I am a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley in the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM), and a fellow at the UC Berkeley Center for Society Technology and Policy and Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Working Group.

My dissertation explores how advances in decision making algorithms can both improve our understanding of the mechanisms behind observed patterns in social-ecological systems (i.e. agricultural landscapes), and improve our capacity to effectively respond to environmental changes and new information about ecological systems. The chapters of my dissertation span systems from farms to forests to fisheries, seeking to examine both protection and production in a rapidly changing world. And while we pave a path for the next decade of conservation science in the wake of more advanced decision-making algorithms, my dissertation explores why we must simultaneously, and urgently, ask the question: Whose values are shaping decisions about our planet’s health?

My current work is largely thanks to the mentorship from my PhD advisors, Carl Boettiger and Justin Brashares, and my wonderfully supportive labmates in the Boettiger Group and Brashares Group. Much of my research is informed by the many mentors, collaborators, and coworkers I had during my time as a research assistant at the Woodwell Climate Research Center and motivated by my teenage years working on (sub)urban farms and food justice issues in my local community with The Food Project.


  • Conservation science
  • Decision theory
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Climate solutions
  • Data science


  • PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, 2018-present

    University of California Berkeley

  • BSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2010-2014

    Yale University


(for a list of publications currently in review see CV)

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National mitigation potential from natural climate solutions in the tropics

Better land stewardship is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal, particularly in the tropics, where …

Impaired consciousness in partial seizures is bimodally distributed

Partial seizures can often be cleanly separated into those with vs without overall impaired responsiveness. Results from similar …

Grants and Fellowships


SESYNC Graduate Student Pusuit - Co-PI

National Social-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

Apr 2020 – Present
SESYNC Graduate Student Pursuit awarded to study decision making models for nature-based climate solutions with a focus on transitions towards agroforestry systems (~$35000).

Center for Technology, Society, and Policy (CTSP) Fellowship

University of California Berkeley

Feb 2020 – Present
Fellowship to support work on fundemental shifts in environmental conservation in the age of algorithmic governance. Co-written with Caleb Scoville and Carl Boettiger. ($4000)

Data Science for the 21st Century: Society and Environment

National Science Foundation; UC Berkeley

Aug 2018 – May 2020
National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) interdisciplinary graduate training program at UC Berkeley at the interface of data, social and natural sciences

Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship

U.S. Dept of Education

May 2012 – May 2014
Two academic years of advanced Kiswahili study. Contributed to capacity to complete undergraduate thesis on environmental drivers of disease distribution in Kenya. (~$35000)

Teaching and Professional Experience


Graduate Student Instructor

University of California Berkeley

Aug 2020 – Present Berkeley, California
Graduate student instructor for ESPM 157: Data Science for Global Change Ecology. Teaching data science skills for the analysis of large data sets as well as concepts in global environmental change and environmental justice.

Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Analyst

REDD+ Projet Équateur

Apr 2017 – Jan 2016 Falmouth, Massachusetts
Developed a spatially explicit model of deforestation utilizing biophysical, socioeconomic, and political data in the Équateur province of the Democratic Republiic of Congo

Research Assistant II

Woodwell Climate Research Center (Woods Hole Research Center)

Sep 2015 – Apr 2018 Falmouth, Massachusetts
Worked with global remote sensing data, assisted in design of social surveys, utilized spatial optimization techniques for conservation prioritization. Collaborated with NGOs and government agencies on interdisciplinary and applied research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, and Brazil.