My name is Aliris Loperena and I received a BS in Biology from the University of Central Florida in 2017. I began my undergraduate career focused on a path toward veterinary medicine, but when provided with the opportunity to take a course in Tropical marine biology in Belize I quickly discovered I had more than one passion. During my undergraduate career I worked as a veterinary technician at local animal hospitals and volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center that specialized in native Florida species. I took courses which immersed me in research and ultimately public outreach with a local elementary school involving microplastics and other environmental issues. I was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the MCM program which incorporates all the aspects I enjoyed about veterinary medicine, public outreach, and research into one program. I aim to use the expertise I gain through the MCM program to help improve wildlife and ecological welfare through research and policy change. Since my graduation I have been working at a specialty veterinary clinic, as a veterinary technician in the surgery department and have been involved with the St. Petersburg College Underwater Research Society assisting with invasive species control and reef clean up. I have a spoiled pit-bull named Deven (or Dev for short) at home who I adopted 6 years ago. In my spare time I enjoy scuba diving, hiking, traveling; one of my favorite parts about traveling is trying new foods. I am very excited to begin this new chapter in academic career.