Melanie dos Santos Mendes studied geography, biology and economic geography and subsequently completed her PhD at the Chair of Physical Geography and Geoecology at RWTH Aachen University. She has worked at KMR Stainless GmbH and the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology, UMSICHT, Oberhausen on issues of quality and environmental management as well as life cycle assessment.
In 2013, Mendes switched to science management and strategy development, initially as an officer for the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance at Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH. In 2015, she took over as head of the unit “JARA and university cooperation” in the Corporate Development in Jülich. Since 2018, she has been in charge of the unit “National and International Relations”. Within this she deals with questions of scientific cooperation with partners in China against the background of Jülich's intensive China cooperation.