• Melissa Victoria Fernandez, PhD MSc

    Virologist. Chemist. Educator.


    To advance the field of HIV research towards a better understanding of cellular and viral factors that dictate viral transmission.

  • Resume/CV

    For up to date information on my credentials, download my curriculum vitae by clicking the button below

  • Leadership Roles

    Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

    Frederick Chair


    CCR-FYI enhances the intramural training program, fosters communication among fellows and the CCR research community, and serves as a liaison to CCR senior management on programs affecting the training experience.


    As chair of the CCR-FYI, I connect fellows to resources and develop platforms for them to engage with the science community. By working or engaging with the CCR-FYI, fellows are able build transferable skills they can use as leverage during their job hunt.

    Puerto Rico Humanitarian Relief Donation Drive



    In light of the devastation Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria have caused on Puerto Rico, I put together a team of volunteers to host donation drop off points and organized a donation drive in Maryland. Together, this team collected donations from National Cancer Institute locations at Bethesda, Fort Detrick, Shady Grove, and the ATRF. We also recruited two restaurants in downtown Frederick, MD to host donation drop off boxes: JoJo's Restaurant and Tap House & Magoo's Pub and Eatery.


    Donations were handed off to the Unidos Por Puerto Rico DMV organization in Chantilly, VA.

    Co-Chair and Awards Organizer


    Newsletter Managing Editor and Contributing Writer


  • Mentorship

    The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.

    Adult English Tutor


    Learning to read or to speak English opens the door to a life of greater fulfillment and contribution to our community!


    By teaching a fellow Frederick County resident to read, I am making a significant positive change in their life.

    Young Women's Internship

    Mission, Texas

    Science Mentor


    Investing in women is investing in a strong economy. Hispanic women get paid less than most of Americans. Let’s change that!


    As a student mentor, I help empower young hispanic women while they set out to achieve great goals.

  • Community Outreach

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

    Education Outreach Manager


    The Chemical Society of Washington (CSW) is the local ACS Section for the Washington, DC area and serves approximately 4,000 members.


    As one of this year's elected managers, I assist with education outreach efforts by assisting the Community Activities Committee, the Education Committee, and Project SEED.

    Volunteer Animal Handler


    Adopt NY is a league of rescue groups working to make New York No Kill. By holding large-scale adoption events in and around NYC, they've been able to introduce many New Yorkers to their newest furry family members.


    As a volunteer animal handler, I facilitated with getting the adoptable dogs more visibility by walking them and ensuring they were calm and felt safe during an excitable event. Potential adopters were directed to where they could fill out adoption forms.

    Volunteer Veterinary Assistant & Surgical Assistant


  • Teaching

    Knowledge is Power. Education is the Answer.

    Volunteer Science Instructor


    This program aims to enhance our next generation of scientist's STEM experiences in middle and high school, while empowering teachers to provide high-quality science education.


    As a mentor, I facilitate lessons on science communication and provide students with an example of a female latina scientist.

    Volunteer Science Instructor


    This program serves adolescents in low-income communities at a critical point in their development - as they search for their pathway into the adult world.


    The course I designed focused on educating seventh graders through a basic forensic science sequence aimed at solving a crime to catch a criminal.

    During the course of the semester, I developed, supervised, and conducted lessons and activities for an eleven week after-school apprenticeship in East Harlem. At the end of the apprenticeship, the students presented their newly acquired knowledge to the community during an open house.

    John Jay College of Criminal Justice

    Adjunct Professor


  • Melissa V. Fernandez and Eric O. Freed. 2017. Cell Chem. Bio. 24(5):548-550. PMID: 28525770

    Fernandez, M.V., E. Miller, F. Krammer, R. Gopal, B.D. Greenbaum, and N. Bhardwaj. 2016. Leukoc. Biol. 99:723-734. PMID: 26574023

    Fernandez M.V., and P.R. Gardinali. 2016. Science of the Total Environment 541:1556-1571. PMID: 26490533

    Fernandez M.V., E.A. Miller, and N. Bhardwaj. 2014. J. Vis. Exp. 87:e51284. PMID: 24894187

    Manches, O., M.V. Fernandez, J. Plumas, L. Chaperot, and N. Bhardwaj. 2012. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109:14122-14127. PMID: 22879398

    Landrum J.T., D.C. Chatfield, A.M. Mebel, F. Alvarez-Calderon, and M.V. Fernandez. 2010. Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 493:169-174. PMID: 19850003

  • FAQ

    Do you have a question?

    Where am I from?

    Miami, FL

    When asked, "Where are you from?" I struggle to name one place.


    My parents were born in Cuban and came to America seeking freedom. I was born and raised in Miami, FL.


    During my undergraduate work I took a semester to study in a student exchange program in Spain at la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. After graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Certificate in Chinese Studies, I joined the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at NYU School of Medicine in New York to study the life sciences.


    After completing my graduate studies I moved to Tampa, Florida where I taught Chemistry and Earth/Space Science at the high school level. After completing my teaching contract I joined that National Cancer Institute in Maryland as a postdoctoral fellow in the HIV Dynamics and Replication Program.


    I am currently residing in Maryland.

    What are my credentials?

    Masters of Science in Chemistry and a Doctorate in Pathology

    My lifelong academic pursuit has been to become a virologist and study host-pathogen interactions.


    I studied Chemistry at Florida International University in the laboratories of John Landrum, Richard Bone, and Piero Gardinali. My graduate work in virology took place at New York University with my final year taking place at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.


    I have experience in education and mentorship as a high school science teacher, an adjunct chemistry professor, an organic chemistry teaching assistant, and a private science tutor.


    You can find more at my Linkedin.

    Where am I now?

    Postdoctoral fellow at the NCI

    I am currently studying host-virus interactions in vitro between HIV-1 and SIV in species appropriate host cells.


    The overall goal of my studies is to gain a better understanding of the viral motifs that dictate viral particle infectivity and the host proteins that interact with those viral motifs.

    Where am I going?

    Towards a career in virology and science & education policy.

    My purpose is to advance the understanding of host-viral interactions and immune responses to acute viral infection and positively contribute to public health.


    My passion is to affect positive change in STEM education policy.

    What types of assays are you skilled at?

    Mostly viriological and immunology techniques

    My experimental read-outs include the use of Tzm-bl cells to measure infectivity and cell fusion during infection, SDS-Page and radiolabel-immunoprecipitation (radio-IP) of viral proteins, P-32 reverse transcriptase assays, and lentiviral replication assays. I also have extensive experience with molecular cloning, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, and lentivivral particle production.


    The image to the left is an example of an S-35 radio-IP of HIV-1 proteins in a human T-cell line produced by me in 2017. + = positive control, - = negative control, ? = variable being tested.

    Do you want a copy of my publications?

    No problem!

    Kindly send me an e-mail requesting the specific publication and I will provide it for you. You can find my contact info in the "Contact Me" section.


    The caveat being the JOVE article has a video component that I can not send.

    Tell me more about work-life balance... do you have any hobbies?

    Of course!

    Even obsessed scientists take time to enjoy their hobbies! My appreciation for chemistry began as a high schooler during photography class. I spent countless hours in the dark room experimenting with developing techniques. As an adult, I still dabble in film photography and pinhole camera techniques. Additionally, many of the images on this website were taken by me during my undergraduate years at FIU in collaboration with Dr. James Quirke.


    There is also significant carry-over between lab skills and cooking/gardening. During my spare time on the weekend I am outside landscaping and cooking for the week. These actives are not chores; they are the simple pleasures of life. I am currently working on a rose garden and converting an edible garden.


    During my graduate career, I developed a love for aerial silks, lyra, and running.

  • Contact Me

    Do you have any further questions?