Since 2001 Melanija Belaj has been working at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research where in the period 2001-2005 was actively involved in the project of digitizing archives of the Institute. From 2003 until 2005 she was the co-leader of the Club of the Croatian Ethnological Society. MA thesis Family photos – analysis and interpretation in the framework of the ethno-anthropological science defended in 2005 at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb.
From 2007-2013 participated in the work of the Institute’s project Food culture within social changes of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century (as associate and later as head of the project). Doctoral thesis in ethnology and cultural anthropology Ethnological and cultural approach to the culture of the family production and consumption of alcohol defended in 2010 at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. In 2009 she co-edited with Nives Rittig-Beljak book Tourist as a guest – contributions to culinary tourism.
From 2012 to 2014 was a collaborator on the project Croatian intangible cultural heritage, social identities and values within she was most engaged in the preparation of nomination Mediterranean diet and its reflections in the context of intangible culture. During 2013 and 2014 she collaborated on the project Development of the additional training programme for the cook of traditional (local and regional) cuisine as part of program Capacity Building of the Adult Education Institutions Grant Application Form IPA BGUE 04 06 – Human Resources Development.
Also has participated in several national and international conferences at home and abroad and also co-organized several scientific conferences on the subject of ethnology and cultural anthropology of food. She is cooperating with scientific and cultural institutions as a mentor, a guest lecturer and reviewer in the framework of the theme dealing with the culture of eating and drinking from ethnology and cultural perspectives and their application in tourism.
Scientific research interests and topics in the context of ethnology and cultural anthropology of food culture: drinking culture, traditional viticulture and contemporary flows of tourism development, the Mediterranean diet, gender and symbolic role of food and drinks in a cultural context, social practices of trade and daily life of open food markets.