Mel Melendrez

Anoka Ramsey Community College

Course Editors


Introductory Biology

Editor Degrees:

  • B.S. Biology, Pacific Lutheran University

  • Certificate, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Drexel University

  • Ph.D. Ecology and Environmental Science, Microbiology focus - Montana State University

About Teaching and CourseSource

My background is in microbiology, virology, bioinformatics and molecular biology. I have actively contributed to the fields of metagenomics, infectious disease surveillance, viral population dynamics, bioinformatics programming development, and education and outreach. My Ph.D. dissertation work focused on ecotype theory and how it applies to the speciation of Synechococcus in different ecological niches of alkaline siliceous hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, WY. As a postdoc, I switched gears and accepted a Post-doctoral fellowship in Bangkok, Thailand to study viral population dynamics of Dengue virus circulating in SE Asia. I also contributed to projects related to Chikungunya, Orientia tsutsugamushi, Zika, and routine sequence surveillance of influenza A and B. After my postdoc I continued my work in viral dynamics as the Chief of Bioinformatics and Viral Genetics at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, MD focusing on infrastructure development, high throughput automated viral sequence analysis (bioinformatic pipeline development) and conducted training in support of global viral surveillance and vaccine development initiatives at the institution.

My initial interest in teaching began at WRAIR, and I accepted a spot in the ASM Science Teaching Fellows program. The year after I served as a facilitator/mentor in the program. After transitioning to Minnesota and being a stay at home mom for 2 years, I took up adjunct teaching at Inver Hills Community College and a temporary appointment as an Asst. Professor at St. Cloud State University before accepting a full-time tenure-track (probationary) position at Anoka Ramsey Community College (ARCC). I am motivated by the need to make education more accessible and equitable for my students, especially those from underrepresented populations in STEM, which is something I did not experience in my undergraduate education. I revamped my course policies, syllabi, and converted my introductory biology class to an OER my first semester. When COVID hit, I virtualized bacterial identification modules commonly done in the wet lab of many general microbiology courses so that students could still experience bacterial identification in an outbreak scenario. These modules were adopted by instructors at ~20 institutions in the US and Mexico during the pandemic.

Currently I teach at ARCC where I can incorporate research datasets and informatics training into the current department curriculum. I have served as a co-editor on special topics in microbiology focusing on bioinformatics in the classroom and metagenomics. I enjoy designing curriculum to incorporate research, real-world datasets, and soft skills I know employers want given my time in military science. I am heavily involved in my college's diversity, equity and inclusion initiative and I place great importance on collaboration, interdisciplinary work and curriculum designs that are functional, accessible and equitable. I have taught courses and developed labs and curriculum for Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Introductory Biology and Advanced DNA Techniques. I look forward to being part of the CourseSource team to support their mission of scientific teaching and effective curriculum design.