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Mel Chanona

Senior Researcher

Mel is a science nerd at heart, who thinks math is fun and is insatiably fascinated by life, the universe, and everything. As a life-long learner, Mel is always asking ‘why’ and ‘how’ – from investigating climate feedback loops in the Arctic Ocean for their PhD to championing circular solutions to single-use waste as a social entrepreneur. Throughout all their work, Mel holds strong commitments to equity-centered, decolonizing, and consensus-based approaches. Mel is passionate about finding all the best science to advance Canopy’s science-based mission to protect and restore our planet’s sacred forests!

More about me

My strongest interests lie in combining data-driven research and inclusive storytelling to influence systemic change with the sense of urgency necessitated by the climate crisis we face. In other words: doing science that matters.

I also love community building, working with and facilitating diverse teams, and I have special interests in translating science-speak to corporate-speak to sitting-around-the-campfire-with-friends-speak.

My research philosophy is grounded in doing research that is relevant, holistic, collaborative, and creative. While embodying such an approach sometimes means a project will take longer, the results in my experience have always been better. I believe strongly in bringing our humanity into science, and that it is fundamental to our ability to coax out the patterns and storylines that most spark our intrigue, compassion, and ultimately our action.

Why are forests important to me

Because forests make us feel good! It’s true, even the science says so. Of course, that’s not to mention the fact that they serve one of the most critical roles in our planet’s life support system.

My personal relationship with trees began climbing sappy Cedars with abandon as a child, and marveling at the bark of Arbutus. It was years later before I began to appreciate them in a whole new way, after hearing Carl Sagan describe evolution on one of my all-time favourite shows, Cosmos, explaining how trees’ DNA and mine share the exact same foundational language. This feeling of kinship to our distant tree relatives has been with me ever since, and has only continued to grow as I read and learn more about traditional Indigenous wisdom on the value of nurturing relationships with trees and forests. And frankly, as I simply take more time to pay attention to how special they are!

Why Canopy

Call me a millennial, but I can’t bear the thought of a ‘business-as-usual’ desk job. Canopy is serious about the urgency of the twin climate and biodiversity crises AND they prioritize taking care of their team’s wellbeing with integrity, humour, and heart? They had me at hello! I’m extremely grateful to be part of such a passionate and supportive team.

Ask me about

Equity, policy, CBC radio, black holes, rock climbing, experimental urban gardening, or animals! Ideally all in the same evening over a beer.

What ruffles my feathers

When people with power use misinformation and confrontational rhetoric to perpetuate harm and oppression.