Allen noted for ability to translate knowledge to concrete change in Brandeis profile
When Melanie Allen, MA SID’15, first arrived at Heller to study in the Sustainable International Development program, her advisor, Joshua Ellsworth, said she was already focused on the vital role that scientific assessment plays in environmental conservation. “I felt she had a strong knowledge base, and she’s been open enough to gain the skills and outlook over the last year to have a better chance to translate that technical understanding into concrete change,” Ellsworth says.
Allen relies on that cause-and-effect perspective in her current practicum work with the African Cashew initiative, which supports rural cashew farmers in West Africa. The project helps farmers improve the productivity of their cash crop so they can better compete in the international market.
Allen’s impact and interest in the area of climate adaptation and community-based conservation in African and Caribbean countries caught the attention of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, which has named her one of 20 Switzer Environmental Fellows for 2014. The program recognizes emerging leaders who are pursuing graduate degrees and driving positive environmental change in their careers. In being named a Switzer Fellow, Allen receives a $15,000 award that is helping to fund her work in West Africa.