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Melanie Villanueva

Senior Fellow
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California

Melanie Villanueva graduated from University of California, San Diego, with master’s degrees in physical chemistry and education and a teaching credential in secondary education. “I have always had a passion for education. I chose to study chemistry because of the positive influence of my high school chemistry teacher.”

As an undergraduate chemistry major at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Melanie worked with the Chemistry Higher Education Workgroup developing interactive software for chemistry textbooks and was involved with STEMTEC, a program which worked to improve high school science education. She moved to San Diego to pursue a PhD in chemistry. Although she found the research fascinating, she was more inspired by teaching. “Today, I believe that joining the Teacher Education Program at UC San Diego was one of the best choices I have made in my entire life.”

As part of the program, Melanie was placed as an intern teacher at Chula Vista High School in Chula Vista, Calif., where she taught two classes of planetary science and a class in chemistry while finishing her degree. Although she loved teaching at Chula Vista High, she made the decision to transfer to Mar Vista High School, a school in the same district, in order to have the opportunity to teach chemistry full time.

Later, Melanie was transferred to Olympian High School, but She hopes to return to Mar Vista High School in the future.


As a teacher, I work on connecting with students in order to help them become outstanding problem-solvers as well as scientists.

Melanie Villanueva
Senior Fellow