Eric Allen is a Professor in the Marine Biology Research Division and Center for Marine Biotechnology & Biomedicine at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. He also holds a Professorship at UC San Diego’s Division of Biological Sciences in the Molecular Biology Section.
His research involves using genome sequence information to explore the ecology and evolution of marine microbes as well as developing new computational methods for the study of environmental microbial biology. Such investigations include a mix of field-based collections and bioinformatics combined with molecular ecology and genetics. A Scripps alumnus, Allen has been an early leader in marine genomics and “metagenomics,” in which the tools of genomic analysis are applied to communities of microbes in the environment.
The results of his research carry implications for understanding a variety of microbial phenomena, including microbial symbioses, the synthesis of bioactive compounds, environmental adaptation, and novel biotechnological applications of microbial activities.
In 2012 Allen was awarded a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the genetic and physiological underpinnings of bacterial synthesis of fatty acid molecules that have gained attention in recent years as potential sources of renewable green fuels, chemicals and nutraceuticals. In addition to bioenergy applications, these studies may reveal information important for maintaining marine resources, including fish species harvested for omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and the co-opting of microbial derived metabolites for human health applications.
Allen is also a founding member of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, which was launched in 2009 to develop new bioenergy solutions.
A native of Oregon (born in Eugene and raised in Medford), Allen received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Oregon in 1995 (Go Ducks!). He completed his Ph.D. from Scripps in 2002 in Marine Biology and completed postdoctoral positions at UC San Diego in marine genomics from 2002-2003 and UC Berkeley as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Microbial Biology in metagenomics from 2003-2006. He became an Assistant Professor in Scripps’ Marine Biology Research Division in 2006.
He and his family live in San Diego.