Melia Paguirigan grew up in the small state capital of Olympia, Washington. Surrounded by the beauty of the Olympic National Park and the Puget Sound, she developed a strong love for nature. In high school, she had the opportunity to participate in an intertidal biodiversity survey in the San Juan Islands. While exploring the muddy intertidal zone, she became fascinated with the interactions between organisms and the environment. This early fascination flourished in college where she ultimately graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from the Evergreen State College.
While in college, she helped her dad build a Polynesian ocean voyaging canoe known as a vaka, which strengthened her aspiration to protect the ocean. Driven to learn more about ocean ecosystems, she participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories through California State University Monterey Bay. Her research focused on the influence of diatom aggregation on the carbon-cycle. She presented this project at the WSN 2016 conference and at the ASLO 2017 conference as a member of the ASLO Multicultural Program.
After graduating, Melia worked for a political non-profit, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, as a community organizer. While on the front lines of the reproductive rights movement, she learned the importance of empowering and connecting with the community to build change. She hopes to bring together her passion for ocean science and political advocacy as she moves towards graduate school.
In her free time Melia enjoys camping and hiking, cooking food with loved ones, and searching the internet to see how people bring together art and science (especially with diatoms). Family is very important to her and they have been essential to her achievements so far.