Melia does theoretical research in applied physics to investigate modular structure and function in biology, encompassing topics in immunology and cognition.  In prior work, she researched topics in optics and thermodynamics.

What is modularity?

A module refers to an individual unit that can be combined with other individual units to form a more complex structure. Modularity defines how independent each of these individual units are. The extent to which modularity is beneficial or disadvantageous depends on the complexity and timescale of the activities being carried out.