DATA ANALYST | EPIDEMIOLOGIST, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR
Location: Rockville, MD
Member Since: 2021
Korean-Americans share a centuries-old ancestral and cultural history, but our lived immigrant experiences are unique. Melissa was born and raised in Maryland by a microbiologist dad and artist mom. Her parents met and married in Washington, D.C., so she has deep roots in the community, but also had her fair share of feeling like an outsider. Growing up, Melissa wanted to emulate her dad and immersed herself in everything science-related. She majored in Biology for her Bachelor’s degree, then earned a Master’s degree in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, and pursued doctoral studies in perinatal epidemiology and women’s health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Melissa is passionate about communicating the data story to the lay public, particularly on health disparities. In recent years, she made a career shift to apply data science to the diversity, equity, and inclusion sphere after attending a panel discussion on the dearth of Asian voices and advocacy in Federal employment. She took those concerns to heart and used her data skills to ensure that NIH attracts and employs the most talented and diverse workforce. Her DEI work took on an extra layer of urgency in light of the George Floyd protests and anti-Asian acts of violence in this past year. Melissa is definitely a numbers person, but her mom’s influence has always taught her to see beauty all around her. Her time outside of work is fully engaged with arts, music, dance, and also the intersection of science and the arts. She actively participates in the Sound Health initiative at NIH and Music & Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Melissa is a strong advocate of expanding the mentality of success to include the arts and telling our stories.