Allison has a broad background in ecology and resource management, and over eleven years of research administration experience. Her diverse portfolio of field and lab-based projects, focused mostly in southcentral and southeast Alaska, include research on Chinook salmon habitat modeling, environmental drivers of harmful algal blooms, hydrologically driven terrestrial-marine linkages, and ocean acidification.
Prior to joining the Alaska Fisheries Science Center Allison was the director of the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center at the University of Alaska Southeast. During the eight years in that position she grew the annual operating budget fourfold and established the Center as a hub for collaborative, multidisciplinary research on coastal margin ecosystem processes and climate change, focusing on issues of concern to coastal communities and industries in Alaska.
Growing up in the shadow of the University of Chicago, Allison was introduced to ecology at a young age: every year during elementary school her class took a field trip to pay homage to Henry Cowles and Frederic Clements and learn about succession at the Indian Dunes. She also developed a keen interest in the man-eating lions of Tsavo, forever preserved in a diorama at the Field Museum, and the subject of much fascination among schoolchildren. Allison eventually received a B.S. from the University of Michigan, a M.S. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She moved to Juneau from Cordova, AK in 2012 to get away from the rain.