Melinda Berman

Meet Melinda Berman, a UCLA senior majoring in Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Environmental Science. Melinda recently presented her research at an AGU meeting and was a recipient of the Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA). The OSPAs are awarded to students for outstanding presentations of research in Earth and space science.

Melinda is currently also an Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP) scholar.


How did you first get involved in your research project?

I met my advisor, Dr. Pablo Saide, during a field campaign studying wildfires that I participated in during a summer internship in 2019. I worked with him on the forecasting team for the campaign and have continued working with him ever since. My research project is developing a novel algorithm quantifying burn area of wildfires from satellites to help better predict smoke emissions.

How would you describe your research experience at UCLA? 

My research experience at UCLA has been enriching and incredible! It has given me a new passion for wildfire research and understanding the role that wildfire plays in our world. Additionally, I have learned that I want to be a professional research scientist. My research experience has taught me how to have perseverance and to be a critical thinker.

What is one piece of advice you have for other students thinking about getting involved in research?

Have confidence in yourself! It can be really intimidating to reach out a professor you want to work with, but you can do it. Even if you think you might not hear back, you should reach out because you don’t know what opportunities that professor or researcher might have for you. And even if they don’t have an opportunity for you, they might be able to guide you to another one. Having confidence in yourself will also be important when you obtain a research position. It will allow you to come to your advisor with opportunities and ideas that can help push your research even further.

What are your future career goals?

I’m planning on attending graduate school in the fall with the goal of obtaining my PhD in meteorology or atmospheric sciences. In graduate school, I hope to research severe storms and related hazards like tornados. After graduate school, I want to be a research scientist for the federal government or at a university.