Media Coverage

This page includes interviews and media featuring my work.

Magazine & Newspaper

Scientists were stumped when seabirds started dying. Now they have answers, Los Angeles Times (January 2020)

Climate Change Likely to Blame for Mass Seabird Die-off in Bering Sea, The Wire (June 2019)

Why Hundreds of Puffins Washed Up Dead on an Alaskan Beach, The Atlantic (June 2019)

A Journey Into the Heart of Alaska’s Pristine and Imperiled Arctic Refuge, Audubon Magazine (Winter 2018)

Smooth Sailing: A New Route through the Bering Strait will protect wildlife from ship traffic, Audubon Magazine (Winter 2018)

America’s Wildest Place is Open for Business, New York Times (Nov 2017)

New Arctic Alaska marine atlas details ecosystem of the changing region, Alaska Dispatch News (Aug 2017)

National Audubon Society: Conservation Pioneers – Women in the Field, Orion Magazine (Nov 2015) (Correction: the off-grid cabin mentioned is actually my part-time home in Talkeetna.)

On Thin Ice, Audubon Magazine (Nov 2011)

Polar Bears Could Persist on Persisting Ice, Nature Magazine (Dec 2010)


New oil estimate for NPR-A: It’s ‘HUGE’, Alaska Public Media (Dec 2017)

Trump Administration Looks To Expand Oil Development In Alaska, NPR’s Here and Now (Sep 2017)

There’s a new Arctic drilling battle brewing…and it’s not in ANWR, Alaska Public Radio (Aug 2017)

Grounded Russian Oil Tanker Leaks Into North Pacific, Alaska Public Radio Network (Dec 2015)

New Southeast Atlas Identifies Valuable Habitat and Threats, Alaska Public Radio Network (Oct 2015)

BOEM Reviews Lease Sale Comments, Alaska Public Radio Network (Dec 2013)

Blogs & Online Stories

Audubon Alaska Receives Coast Guard Public Service Commendation, National Audubon Society (July 2018)

Audubon Alaska produces an award-winning atlas, Audubon Alaska (July 2018)

Building an Arctic Atlas, Edge Effects (Nov 2016)

Field Biology, Models, and Alaska’s Caribou, The Nature Conservancy via Alaska Public Media (Apr 2012)

“Melanie is equally comfortable briefing Congressional staffers in Washington, D.C., discussing gravel road siting with oil company executives, and delving into seaduck migration with wildlife biologists.”


US Coast Guard—Public Service Commendation (July 2018)

Audubon Alaska received a Public Service Commendation from the U.S. Coast Guard “for outstanding support to the United States Coast Guard to advance the Bering Strait Port Access Route Study,” a process to identify safe routes for vessels. Audubon Alaska provided analysis and mapping that delineated Areas to be Avoided by vessel traffic to lessen the impact on crucial areas for birds and mammals across the Bering Strait. These recommendations were formally adopted by the International Maritime Organization, making them mandatory for transiting vessels.

The commendation stated, “Audubon Alaska played a pivotal role in formulating a set of recommendations for seven hundred miles of shipping lanes, precautionary areas and areas to be avoided that will help protect 9,471 square miles of environmentally sensitive areas in U.S. Arctic waters that are heavily used by avian and marine mammal species…these new routes in the Bering Sea and Bering Strait have been recommended for worldwide implementation…Audubon Alaska’s subject matter expertise, especially on the spatial and temporal use of key habitat areas in this region, and the collaboration with other non-governmental organizations resulted in consensus based recommendations that greatly helped the Coast Guard manage this significant undertaking.”

Esri—Best Cartography (Best of Show) (July 2018)
Esri—First Place, Map Series or Atlas (July 2018)
International Cartographic Association—Recognition of Excellence in Cartography (July 2018)

Audubon Alaska, Oceana, and Daniel Huffman of somethingaboutmaps were awarded three of the highest honors at the annual Esri User Conference for our Ecological Atlas of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. The awards included Best Cartography, the equivalent of a best in show award, as well as first place for Atlas. A third award by ICA/IMIA recognized excellence in cartography.

Sustainer Award, National Audubon Society (April 2018)

Melanie Smith received a Sustainer Award for reaching ten years with the National Audubon Society in April 2018.

US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Region—Regional Director’s Excellence Award (May 2017)

Audubon Alaska and our partners were awarded “Outstanding Partner” for our work on the Mountains to Sea Partnership, developed to support land conservation on the Kenai Peninsula. This award recognizes external partners who have made significant contributions to the conservation of natural resources in the region.

Esri—President’s Award (July 2015)

The National Audubon Society GIS team was given Esri’s highest honor for “outstanding application of GIS in conservation“. The Alaska office’s contribution was a driving factor in earning this award. View the report they mention here.

Esri equipped Audubon with $11.2 million worth of GIS software, which has helped, among other initiatives, to preserve one of the world’s most important bird breeding grounds—11 million acres in Alaska that attract birds from all seven continents.”

US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Region—Regional Director’s Excellence Award (March 2014)

Melanie Smith and Nathan Walker of Audubon Alaska were each individually awarded “Outstanding Partner” for our work to develop a decision support tool for land conservation on the Kenai Peninsula. Try the tool by clicking here.

Esri—Special Achievement Award (July 2013)

The National Audubon Society GIS team was awarded by Esri for exceptional application of geospatial technology for deploying a successful enterprise GIS system used to build a legacy of conservation success. Audubon Alaska’s work was cited by our CEO in earning this award.

National Audubon Society and Toyota—TogetherGreen Fellowship (May 2012)

The TogetherGreen fellowship provided $10,000 toward a conservation project to map use of the Bering Strait by communities, birds, and wildlife, in the face of increasing ship traffic due to Arctic climate change. See the final report and maps here.

National Audubon Society—Ace Award (December 2009)

The National Audubon Society honored Melanie Smith with the New Star Award for “substantial contributions to Audubon’s conservation efforts in the Arctic marine environment and on the Tongass National Forest”.

Audubon stated, “Melanie’s spatial analysis has revolutionized our conservation work and her mapping skills are in high demand by other conservation organizations as well as natural resource agency scientists.”