Melina's research focuses on comparative political and human development. The regional focus of her research is sub-Saharan Africa, where she has worked and conducted fieldwork in Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana. She employs a variety of research methods and data sources, including quantitative analysis of large household surveys, GIS, archival research, ethnography, and survey experiments. She also employs large-scale field experiments to study political behavior and local governance in developing countries. In addition to conducting research, Melina seeks to find ways to bridge the gap between academic research and policy-making, particularly in East Africa.
Previously, she wrote for the Daily Monitor and The Independent magazine, based in Kampala, Uganda. She blogs occasionally for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage and continues to participate on radio and television in Uganda.
Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) Information and Accountability Metaketa, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the International Republican Institute (IRI), among others. She was awarded a Fulbright in Uganda from 2008-2009.