Melanie Valencia is an Andean, originally from Ambato, Ecuador. She is currently pursuing her interdisciplinary PhD in circular economy from both economics and engineering perspectives. Her research focuses on the social determinants of the circular economy, particularly on how the informal recycling sector can be included in this new model in Latin America. She has been working at the intersection of environmental engineering, climate change and social innovation. Most of her work has been related to sanitation and improving waste management in both technical and social aspects with projects in Ghana and Ecuador. She was named MIT Innovator Under 35 in 2016 for her work in CarboCycle, a biotech startup transforming organic waste into a palm oil substitute. She was also one of Project Drawdown’s research fellow to estimate the impact of scaling existing solutions to mitigate climate change. She has been organizer and speaker at multiple events, including Hacking Medicine MIT and Zero Waste Latin America.