Mixed Race (White/ Hispanic/ Latinx)
Year zoo career began:
Allison is a Research Technician at the Memphis Zoo where her daily tasks change by the day and is very dependent on the season and month. For example, in the early spring, captive frog ponds are checked for eggs and then counting, caring for and measuring any tadpoles that hatch. At other times, she makes trips to the Mississippi to release captive-bred dusky gopher frog tadpoles and juvenile frogs as well as breeding and rearing Fowler’s toads in experimental conditions. Allison also spends time in the lab organizing and analyzing data, writing grants, communicating reports, and drafting manuscripts.
As a kid, Allison was always asking her parents to take her to the zoo and to see wildlife – she even had fire-bellied newts as her first pet! She participated in a pre-college STEM career readiness experience for mixed race/BIPOC students, eventually leading to her getting her B.A. in Biology at Whitman College, and then entered the University of San Francisco’s Master’s in Biology program. Allison has participated in paid work-study jobs as a general lab prep assistant as well as paid and unpaid internships studying salmon and C. elegans. Additionally, she had a paid internship at a biotech company analyzing snake venom protein sequences and antigens for the development of a universal anti-venom.
Allison’s favorite part of her job is getting to see endangered frogs laying eggs naturally without any assistance and then hearing them call at the ponds around dusk. Dr. Sinlan Poo at the Memphis Zoo has been a fantastic mentor and role model to her and has helped quickly shape her into a better scientist, mentor, and collaborator just from being a fantastic example. Allison advises to not be afraid to email or strike up ‘random’ conversations with others in your field, whether it’s in your classroom or workplace. Attending conferences related to your field and joining a scientific society can help you make a lot of new, helpful contacts.