Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Maryland Sea Grant Names Allen New Assistant Director for Research

January 22, 2013
photo of Michael Allen

Maryland Sea Grant College has named Michael Allen as its new Assistant Director for Research. Dr. Allen, who served since 2012 as the college’s Research and Education Coordinator, will bring years of experience as a research administrator and freshwater ecologist to the position.  

Allen will oversee the management of Maryland Sea Grant’s diverse research portfolio, which includes studies to better understand the dynamics of the Chesapeake Bay and its watersheds and the sustainable use of Maryland’s natural resources. He will work with scientists around the Bay to support research projects that explore, for example, the population dynamics of striped bass in the estuary and the beneficial effects of restoring Bay grass beds. 

Allen will also manage two of the college’s premier educational initiatives, the Maryland Sea Grant Research Fellowship and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Through the fellowship, Maryland Sea Grant funds graduate students whose research is relevant to Maryland coastal and watershed issues and also trains fellows to communicate their work to a general audience. Each year, the REU program places a group of promising undergraduate students from across the county in research labs on the Chesapeake Bay for the summer, where they design and conduct their own research project. As part of the 2012 REU program, Allen coordinated the activities of 14 undergraduates, providing them with hands-on learning opportunities. Those opportunities included a research cruise on the Chesapeake and workshops to advise the students on communicating science and the career paths available to scientists.  

Before joining Maryland Sea Grant, Allen worked in two positions at the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). First, as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow in 2010-2011, he served as a policy analyst for the agency’s Office of Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes. Following that post, he worked as a contractor in the agency’s Office of Planning, Policy and Evaluation. During Allen’s time at NOAA, he focused on developing national research policies and programs for the agency and coordinated a 150-person workshop in Florida to explore the science behind the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

Allen received his Ph.D. in ecology, evolution and conservation biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2009. He studied the population and community dynamics of zooplankton in ponds and lakes across the Midwest. Before that, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Pennsylvania State University. 

Allen looks forward to working with the scientific community to advance research and education on issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay region. He also hopes to expand Maryland Sea Grant’s outreach to undergraduate and graduate students, particularly to people who traditionally have been underrepresented in the marine science community, such as women and members of minority groups.

-- Daniel Strain