Dr. Nina Strömgren Allen Plant Biology
Graduate Student Research Endowment
On the occasion of her retirement from North Carolina State University, Dr. Nina Strömgren Allen, Professor of Plant Biology, in cooperation with the Department of Plant Biology at North Carolina State University, hereby establishes a permanent endowment in The North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc. The endowment is created to encourage and reward superior academic achievement by Plant Biology graduate students and provide support in order for them to carry out an imaging project using either the Cellular and Molecular Imaging Facility in Plant Biology or the Imaging Centers at the North Carolina Research Institute in Kannapolis, NC.
Nina Strömgren Allen grew up in the Royal Observatory located in the middle of the Botanic Garden in Copenhagen, Denmark. At 15, she moved to the United States with her family and eventually found her way to Madison, Wisconsin where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Zoology. This was followed by nine months study of Botany at Copenhagen University and a year as a graduate student at UW in Madison. After her childrearing years she restarted her education and received an MS and PhD in Plant Physiology in 1970 and 1973 respectively from the University of Maryland at College Park partly funded by an NIH predoctoral fellowship. She then held an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at University of Albany-SUNY until 1976 when she became an Assistant Professor at Dartmouth College. There she taught Phycology, Plant Physiology, Plant Systematics, Photobiology as well as Cell Biology. She founded with Elise Boulding the Dartmouth Women in Science and Social Sciences and was Co-Chair of Women at Dartmouth. With Dr. Robert Day Allen she invented AVEC (Allen Video Enhanced Contrast) microscopy for which they hold the patent. In her research this enabled better images of the cytoskeleton, the endoplasmic reticulum and cell movements. In 1984 she became an Associate Professor of Biology at Wake Forest University where she created an imaging center and taught Cell Biology, Cell Physiology and Video Microscopy as well as heading the Graduate Program. Again she was involved in the early stages of Women’s studies at WFU and taught a course about Women and Science. During a fruitful NSF Visiting Professorship for Women in the early nineties she worked with Dr. Sharon Long and Dr. Paul Green at Stanford University, which resulted in her research into plant microbe interactions.
In 1996 she joined the North Carolina State University’s Plant Biology Department where she has taught Plant Cell Biology, Video and Confocal Microscopy and Colloquium as well as continuing research to improve photonic imaging and studying the cytoskeleton in particular as it relates to signal transduction in plants. She was an integral partner in the NASA funded NSCORT to study calcium homeostasis in plants. The Cellular and Molecular Imaging Facility was started in 1996 by Nina Allen and allowed many users to get excited about utilizing advanced light microscopic methods. The facility was used by researchers across the campus in many disciplines and allowed her to encourage interdisciplinary interactions. She served as the Chair of the Plant Biology graduate program and found great joy in interacting with students. In the last few years she served as a Faculty Senator, on the Executive Committee and finally for two years as the Chair of the Faculty Senate. Her aim as Chair was to promote greater interaction and understanding between the faculty and administration of the University.
At Dartmouth, Wake Forest and NC State University Nina always had undergraduate students working in her laboratory and she took a number of these students with her to the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA. The MBL was an integral part of her life and she has spent all or part of every summer since she was a student in the Botany course at the MBL in 1969 and continues this to this day. With her husband, Bob Allen, she started in 1976 the first Light Microscopy course at the MBL (now called Optical Microscopy and Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences) and she served as its director for a number of years after Robert Allen’s death. She was an elected Trustee and an elected member of the Executive Committee at the MBL among the many jobs she did to serve that institution over the years.
Nina Allen is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Mortarboard, Sigma Xi as well as having been elected a Fellow of AAAS. At AAAS she was elected consecutively to the Council, the Committee on Committees, and then Member-at-large of the Biological Section. She has served on study sections at NIH and NSF. She was the Senior Editor of Plant Biology Book Series published by Wiley-Liss (1984-1995) and was a member of a number of journal editorial boards. Currently she is on the Advisory Boards for the Nanobiotechnology Center and the Nanobiotechnology IGERT at Cornell University as well as serving as a Board Member at the UNC Press. In retirement she has taken on a part time job as the Interim Co-Director of Light Microscopy at the David H. Murdock Research Center in Kannapolis, NC, again working with the finest microscopes Zeiss can produce.
Nina Allen was married to Dr. Robert Jackson Williams and their children are Erik Robert Williams and Dr. Harriet Dudley Williams Hopf, She was married to Dr. Robert Day Allen and helped raise two step-children, Elizabeth Brett and Wayne Edgar Allen. Their joint child is Barbara Sigrid Allen Meyer-Mitchell. She has 12 grandchildren and is looking forward to having more time to interact with them all and to teaching them the wonders of nature.