Student Spotlight May 2010
Ph.D. Fourth Year Student
Allison Smith graduated from the University of Louisville in May of 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a concentration in conservation ecology. Since graduation, Allison has continued studying at U of L to pursue her doctorate in biology and is currently researching the effects of climate change on invasive species in native zooplankton communities that exist in freshwater systems. As zooplankton is essential for the survival of many species of fish, this critical link in our food chain has seen increased attention in recent years, as scientists continue to study the effects of climate change on humans and the Earth.
During her time at the University of Louisville, Allison has received a grant from the Kentucky Society of Natural History, received the Clay Memorial Biology Scholarship, won first place in the Kentucky Academy of Sciences Graduate Research Competition, and has had the opportunity to present at three international conferences and three stateside conferences. She has been published in Hydrobiologia, the Journal of Plankton Research, and the Archiv Fur Hydrobiologie. One of her proudest achievements, however, was being interviewed on NPR’s local affiliate WFPL by Kristin Espeland Gourlay regarding “Climate Change Comes to the Ohio River” in September of 2009.
In her free time, Allison is a volunteer educator at the Louisville Nature Center and currently works with two students in the Every 1 Reads program at Meyzeek Middle School. She enjoys training her dog for agility competitions and one of her proudest moments came from seeing her shihtzu win first place in agility during her first field trial. To relax, Allison participates in U of L’s intramural athletic program by taking courses in yoga and is currently training for the Kentucky Derby’s Mini-Marathon in April. She enjoys reading adolescent fiction and spending time with spending with her husband of 11 years, Ray, and their three dogs, two cats, two chickens, and turtle.
Upon graduation in December 2010, Allison plans to complete her post-doctoral fellowship, before obtaining a faculty position at a Research 1 university to continue pursuing her research activities. She places substantial responsibility upon her advanced degree, as she believes the attainment of this degree puts her in a position where she is required to educate others about nature, the environment, and how humans can impact the world surrounding them.
One of the most critical skills Allison has learned throughout her graduate studies is social networking with peers in her program and throughout the graduate school. She strongly believes that social networking provides someone not only with the opportunity to work with a variety of disciplines that may never have seemed possible, but it also creates a support system of people who can relate to and understand what you are experiencing. When asked how her past experiences helped prepare Allison for graduate school, she laughed before continuing, “Graduate school is like nothing else in life. I can think of no other experience like graduate school. It’s an entity unto itself.”