"I am fascinated by how plant communities recover from disturbance, in particular from human disturbance. As a result I have become interested in the restoration and reconstruction of badly damaged plant communities. Tallgrass prairies are one of the most badly disturbed ecosystems in the world. About 99.9% of the original tallgrass prairie in Illinois has been lost. The only way we will ever have more tallgrass prairie is if we grow it.
I am currently studying the reconstructed prairies at Green Oaks, Knox's biological field station. The prairie reconstructions were initiated by the late Paul Shepard in 1954 and continued by Peter Schramm. My prairie research is mostly dedicated to studying and monitoring changes in the prairies at Green Oaks.
Recently I have been examining the ecological and social-cultural context of ecological restoration. Good restoration has to be ecologically valuable (restoring ecosystem health and function) but good restoration cannot occur if it is not meaningful to people. I'm exploring ways to develop better models for producing restorations that meet both ecological and social needs."
Years at Knox: 1997 to present
Ph.D., Biology, 1991, University of California Berkeley.
M.S., Biology , 1986, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island.
B.S., Biology, 1981, University of Puget Sound.
Populations, organisms, genetics and molecular biology, plants, principles of ecology, field botany, conservation biology, ethnobotany, field biology, First Year Preceptorial, Green Oaks Term.
Full Curriculum Vitae - (DOC)
Fulbright Scholar Fellowship to study Ecological Restoration, England, 2010.
Ecological Restoration and Environmental Change: Renewing Damaged Ecosystems. Earthscan Press, a division of Routledge, Abingdon, UK. (2012).
"The paradox of invasive species: Do restorationists worry about them too much or too little?" In I.D. Rotherham and R. Lambert (editors) Invasive and Introduced Plants and Animals: Human Perceptions, Attitudes, and Approaches to Management. Earthscan Press, London, UK. (2012): 265-275.
"Differences in the effects of drought upon restored and remnant prairies (Illinois)." Ecological Restoration 26 (2008):95-97.
"You can't not choose: Embracing the role of choice in ecological restoration." Restoration Ecology 15 (2007):601-605.
Book review in Proceedings of the 2004 North American Prairie Conference.
"What do we mean when we talk about ecological restoration?" Ecological Restoration 22 (2004): 281-286.
"Geographic distribution of Hemidactylium scutatum." With M. Meyer '99 and J. Crawford. Herpetological Review 33 (2002): 217.
"When is a restoration successful? Results from a 45-year-old tallgrass prairie restoration." Ecological Restoration 20 (2002): 10-17.
"A comparative study of global attitudes towards ecological restoration: Where have we been and where are we going?" Presented at the Society for Ecological Restoration World Conference, August 2011.
"The paradox of invasive species: Do restorationists worry about them too much or too little." Presented at the Society for Ecological Restoration meeting, August 2009.
"Challenges in maintaining a long term prairie restoration" – Invited and featured speaker at the Grassland Restoration Network Workshop held in Madison, Wisconsin, 2008.
"You can’t not choose: Embracing the role of choice in ecological restoration." Presented at the joint meeting of the Ecological Society of America and the Society for Ecological Restoration, 2007.
"The Language of Restoration." Invited Talk, 2005 Iowa Prairie Conference, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"Effective Use of a Field Station for Undergraduate Education in a Changing Liberal Arts College Environment." Organized and Hosted, Pew Midstates Science and Mathematics Consortium, Green Oaks Field Research Center, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.
"Dig Into Spring." Keynote address on the necessity of ecological restoration when gardening, Master Gardeners meeting, University of Illinois Extension, Galesburg, Illinois, 2005.
"When is a restoration successful? Lessons from Green Oaks." Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, 2005.
Member, Board of Directors of the Society for Ecological Restoration.
Coordinating Editor for Restoration Ecology.
Panelist, National Science Foundation Biology Directorate Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.
Participant, "In Search of Earth Ethics" course taught by Jane Goodall, Stephan Harding, and Kate Rawles, Schumacher College, Devon, England.
Member, Ecological Society of America.
Member, Society for Conservation Biology.
Member, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.
Campus & Community Involvement
Member, Knox College Executive Committee, 2005-2008 and 2012-present.
Chair, Department of Biology, 2001-2010.
Director, Green Oaks Biological Field Station, 1999-present.
Curator of the Herbarium, 1997-present.
Advisor, Knox Environmental Management Cooperative Program with Duke University; Alpha Phi Omega; Outdoor Recreation Club, current.
What Students Say
"Biology comes to life when Professor Allison adds his enthusiasm to lectures and lab work. His classes are filled with up-to-date research and personal experience that really drive the information home. His enthusiasm for knowledge is supported by a sincere concern for every student's education and well-being."
-Abigail York, biology and economics major
Baby talk is serious business for senior Megan Beney, a double major in music and anthropology and sociology. Her Honors research focuses on the musical qualities of the ways that people talk to infants.
Leading up to a worldwide event -- Gun Control Theatre Action Week, May 27 through June 2 -- a play by Knox College theatre professor Neil Blackadder is selected for a new collection, "24 Gun Control Plays."
Seniors Megan Beney and Eva Marley spoke at the Central States Anthropology Society. Beney's topic was the musical nature of speech directed at infants, and Marley discussed social media sites and social movements.