During her Switzer Fellowship, Melanie Allen was a Masters student at Brandeis University studying Sustainable International Development, with a concentration in biodiversity conservation. Previously, she earned a B.S. Honors degrees in both Wildlife Conservation and Agriculture and Natural Resources from the University of Delaware. Her career goals are focused on how a collaborative effort between science, the government, and local culture can create and build solutions to urgent environmental challenges. She is most interested in the linkage between conservation and poverty, and in determining potential methods to promote sustainable development that is mutually beneficial for both the people and the ecosystems that they are dependent on. She currently works with the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM) at Conservation International, a global initiative dedicated to enabling the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC's) in the global effort to reduce deforestation and forest degradation specifically in regards to direct access to climate financing. She has experience carrying out independent projects and community based conservation projects internationally, with research endeavors in Costa Rica, Brazil, Ghana and Burkina Faso.