Melissa A.



PhD candidate


Profile summary

  • Emerging pests and pathogens
  • Social-ecological networks
  • Environmental governance
  • Risk management
  • International policy
  • Biodiversity and society
  • Data management

Melissa A. Barton researches ways to improve response to emerging pests and pathogens that affect public and agricultural health through international governance

As human activities like global trade and travel continue to accelerate and climate change worsens, pests and pathogens are rapidly expanding their ranges and impacts on human and agricultural health. At the same time, changes in land use bring more frequent contact with new pathogens, and the widespread use of antimicrobials and biocides encourages the development of resistance. The impacts of emerging pests and pathogens can cascade in unexpected ways and affect multiple regions—even global society.

To build social and ecological resilience to future emerging pests and pathogens, we need to work together across political and administrative boundaries and develop effective strategies for predicting and responding to risks, as well as building capacity for social and ecological resilience to system shocks. Barton’s research focuses on understanding how the global network of policy for managing these threats currently operates and identifying strategies for improvement of international cooperation in crucial areas.

Before joining SRC, Barton was a steering member of the Urban Biodiversity Hub and collaborated with colleagues at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to study social attitudes toward ecological sanitation technologies. She worked previously for the National Ecological Observatory Network, the U.S. National Park Service, and Portland State University, gaining a broad range of skills and experience in survey research, ecological monitoring, data management, and environmental education.

Barton has a joint MSc in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management (MESPOM) from Lund University, Central European University, and the University of Manchester. She also has an MSc in Museum and Field Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a BA in Geology from Colorado College.

Her other research interests include urban biodiversity, nature-based solutions/green infrastructure, social acceptance of pro-environmental behaviours, and citizen/community science. In 2022–2023 she co-supervised the thesis of MSc student Kathryn Bjorklund.

Awards and achievements

  • Erasmus+ Study Mobility Grant for study at the University of Manchester, Erasmus Programme, 2015
  • Charles Schuchert and Carl O. Dunbar Grant-in-Aid for MSc research at University of Colorado, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, 2008
  • Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit Grant, Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (partially funded MSc research at University of Colorado), 2007

Current funding

  • ERC/INFLUX 31003629


Peter Søgaard Jørgensen

Key publications

Pierce JP, Barton MA, Brown IT, Johnson BR, Mooney PF, Tan PY, Park S, Jessup K, Alberti M, Harrigan RJ, Yun M. (2022) Operationalizing urban biodiversity: A guide for integrated action. In Yang Y, Taufen A (ed), The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim. Routledge, Abingdon, UK.

Simha P*, Barton MA*, Perez-Mercado LF, McConville JR, Lalander C, Magri ME, Dutta S, et al. (2021) Willingness among food consumers to recycle human urine as crop fertiliser: Evidence from a multinational survey. Science of The Total Environment 765:e144438.

Pierce JR, Barton MA, Tan MMJ, Oertel G, Halder MD, et al. (2020) Actions, indicators, and outputs in urban biodiversity plans: A multinational analysis of city practice. PLOS ONE 15(7): e0235773.

McDonald RI, Colbert M, Hamann M, Simkin R, Walsh B, Ascensão F, Barton M, et al. 2018. Nature in the Urban Century: A global assessment of important areas for safeguarding biodiversity and human well-being. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA.