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Melanie Nilsson
  • Associate Professor of Chemistry

Headshot of Professor Melanie Nilsson.

As a first generation college student, I needed to work immediately after college. I accepted a position in the Medicinal Chemistry division of RTI International (a research-focused non-profit organization), but later decided to pursue a Ph.D. to expand my career opportunities. My Ph.D. research focused on diabetes, with a particular emphasis on the role of islet amyloid in the disease progression. I then moved to England to continue my diabetes research at the University of Oxford.

I joined the McDaniel College faculty and continued to conduct research into the causes and treatments of diabetes. Over the years, however, I was exposed to the inequities both within the scientific community and beyond. I began asking bigger questions, such as – what good is it to develop a new drug if those who need it most cannot afford it? Thus, my focus turned to issues of social responsibility, inclusivity, and interdisciplinary progress in science. I now work with students, collaborators, and members of the community to break down the silos between science, the arts, and the general public to promote a sustainable, innovative, and socially responsible climate for scientific and technological advancement.


Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry, SUNY Stony Brook
B.A. in Chemistry, Randolph-Macon Woman's College

Research Interests

  • Inclusive practices in STEM

  • Social responsibility in the sciences

  • Complications of insulin therapy in the treatment of diabetes

Recent Courses

  • CHE 3321 & 3322: Biochemistry I & II

  • CHE 1191: Medical Careers 101

Selected Publications

  • Nilsson, Melanie R. History, Politics, and Social Responsibility in Science: The Moon Landings. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, in press.

  • Nilsson, Melanie R. Diversity in STEM: Doctor, Heal Thyself. Journal of College Science Teaching, 2017, 46(4):8-9.

  • Nilsson, Melanie R. Bathroom Lessons. Peace Studies Journal, 2017, 10(3):94-104.

  • Nilsson, Melanie R. Insulin amyloid at injection sites of patients with diabetes. Amyloid: The Journal of Protein Folding Disorders, 2016, 23(3):139-147.

Clubs and community involvement

  • Institutional Review Board Member for the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory

  • Faculty Advisor for the McDaniel College Gender and Sexuality Alliance

  • Instructor for Common Ground on the Hill Traditions Weeks

  • STEM-UP Member and Faculty Mentor

  • Celebration for Life Volunteer

Awards and Honors

  • Phi Beta Kappa

  • Institute for Advanced Studies Benjamin Meaker Fellowship

  • Distinguished Scholars Award

  • Faculty Publications Award

  • Distinguished Teaching Professors' Fellowship

Headshot of Professor Melanie Nilsson.