Melanie Jeffrey

Photo of Melanie Jeffrey
Assistant Professor, Centre for Indigenous Studies & Human Biology
Phone Number: 
Research Interests: 
Indigenous ways of knowing; traditional knowledge(s); ecology, environment and health; integrative seizure research and comprehensive epilepsy care

Melanie Jeffrey, CLTA, Human Biology & Indigenous Studies.
Melanie is a settler of English, Irish and Scottish descent from Parry Sound, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg in the Williams Treaties area. Her more recent ancestors have roots across Ontario, from Red Lake to Oakville. She has been working with Indigenous Studies since 2008, primarily teaching the interdisciplinary science breadth requirement INS 240, Ecological Interactions: Intro to Indigenous and Western Sciences.
Melanie completed two postdoctoral fellowships while working part-time at the Centre for Indigenous Studies. Most recently, at Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health, she worked on a project to identify characteristics of meaningful and relevant datasets for First Nations persons in northern Ontario with traumatic spinal cord injuries. Her other postdoc was in Fundamental Neurobiology at the University of Toronto. In multiple projects investigating neurological dysfunction, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, seizure disorders, and stroke she worked with bioengineers to develop novel technologies.
Melanie’s graduate degree is a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology (University of Toronto, 2014), during which she investigated questions about women, hormones, and epilepsy; it was ultimately empowering for her own epilepsy journey. Her second undergrad was a BA majoring in Health Studies with minors in Indigenous Studies and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, with distinction (2008). Her first undergrad was a BFA specialist in Film Production, cum laude, York University (1999). She worked in the film and television industry between degrees as a camera assistant.
In teaching and research, working with Indigenous persons and their allies guide Melanie’s path. Elders have suggested that it is her role is to be a bridge between Indigenous and Western ways of knowing in the academy. She strives to deliver curriculum in a way that is both critically reflective and respectful of Indigenous and Western epistemologies. Melanie’s research interests include the health of peoples and lands, land-based healing, determinants of health, holistic health and the nexus between Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Western health and ecological sciences. She continues to work with Indigenous persons with spinal cord injuries and community organizations to access holistic care in rural and remote communities. She is also involved with Indigenous communities in northern Ontario investigating their cancer burden and environmental contaminants.