Michelle grew up in south Florida, where she spent most of her time in, on or thinking about the ocean. After finishing her undergrad in the US, she went on to work on research projects abroad, including in South Africa and the Bahamas. She moved to Aberdeen where she completed her MRes in Marine and Fisheries Ecology and her PhD in Marine Biology. Her research focused on the geographic distribution, thermal niche and population structure (using novel genomic markers) of the critically endangered flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius) and blue skate (D. flossada), with a focus on spatial planning for conservation measures on the west coast of Scotland. During her PhD, she worked closely with government, NGOs, and local anglers to identify essential skate habitat and population connectivity between resident and transient skates within a Marine Protected Area and the wider western coast of the British Isles.
She is now the Project Co-ordinator for the 3-year West of Scotland Herring Hunt (WOSHH) project (11/21- 10/24) that seeks to bridge newly generated scientific information with local ecological knowledge (including historical) to identify herring spawning habitat on the west coast of Scotland to help conserve and enhance it, which could help herring populations rebuild. The project also invites citizen scientists to join in and record signs of herring presence using a “Herring Hunt” web app
Michelle previously worked on a project to develop a Rapid Assessment Best Practice Protocol for evaluating mangrove restoration/rehabilitation in Indonesia.
Michelle also sits on the UK National Decade Committee for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science.