Melissa Villarreal

Natural Hazards Center

Contact Info

Melissa is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado (CU), Boulder, in the Department of Sociology. She has worked on projects looking at women’s experiences during and after a disaster, the benefits of mentoring for marginalized doctoral students of color, structural vulnerability and reproductive health access for Mexican-origin immigrant women, and parental notification and access to abortion among minors. In addition to her research endeavors, Melissa works as a graduate research assistant at the Natural Hazards Center at CU Boulder, working on several research projects concerning the enhancement of the ethical quality of disaster research, the increase of diversity in the hazards and disaster field, and the reduction of post-disaster vulnerabilities for marginalized communities.

She is currently working on her dissertation project: an intersectional, multi-level analysis of Mexican immigrants and their disproportionate vulnerability in post-disaster recovery. This project examines the long-term housing recovery of Mexican immigrants in Houston, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey. Melissa was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2019, giving her a full three years of funding to conduct her work in Houston. In 2021, Melissa was awarded the American Sociological Association Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant to continue this project. In 2021, she was selected to be a Kinder Scholar for Rice University’s Kinder Scholar Program. In addition, she is a 2021 Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Equity & Inclusion Fellow.

Melissa is also a William Averette Anderson Fund (BAF) fellow dedicated to advancing the success of minority professionals in the hazards and disasters field. As a BAF Fellow, she has held several leadership positions in the BAF Student Executive Board, taking responsibility for planning and moderating webinars, drafting and disseminating the BAF newsletter, and organizing and coordinating the BAF’s annual fundraiser.