2022 Candidate Steven Allison
University of California, Irvine
Candidate for: ESA Vice President for Finance
As an undergraduate at Penn State, I majored in biology with an ecology focus and conducted research on plant-insect interactions. I earned my PhD in Biological Sciences at Stanford University. My dissertation addressed microbial mechanisms of decomposition, mainly in Hawaiian ecosystems. I then moved to UC Irvine where I conducted postdoctoral research on the warming responses of fungi and soil carbon cycling in Alaskan boreal forests. For the last 15 years, I’ve worked as a professor of ecology and Earth system science at UC Irvine where I lead a research program on microbial ecology and environmental change. Currently I direct the campus-wide Newkirk Center for Science & Society as well as the Ridge to Reef Graduate Training Program, a research traineeship funded by NSF. I served ESA as Chair of the Biogeosciences section from 2020 to 2022, Associate Editor at Ecology from 2014 to 2019, and member of the Nominations Committee in 2017. Since 2020, I have served as the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Ecology and Earth Systems domain of Elementa, an open-access, interdisciplinary journal published by the University of California Press. I’m also involved in local government as an appointed member of the City of Irvine’s Green Ribbon Environmental Committee. I was recently elected Vice Chair of this committee and have been working to help the city develop its first-ever climate action and adaptation plan.
What interests, experience or skills would you bring to this position?
This position is a great fit for me because I enjoy collaborating in teams, building programs, and managing budgets. Strong financial management is key to ESA’s long-term stability and effectiveness as an organization. I will ensure that ESA’s $6M+ budget continues to serve our members while fostering innovations to address the challenges of the 21st century. I’ve gained relevant experience by managing the budgets for a $3M NSF training grant and the Newkirk Center at UC Irvine. Running these programs expanded my skill set in relation to professional development, translational science, community partnerships, and environmental justice. By serving as an ESA section chair, I learned about the society’s governance structure and priorities while gaining a tremendous respect for the talents of our members. I am also eager to broaden participation in ESA using strategies I helped develop as a founding member of my department’s Anti-Racism and DEI Council.
How would you support ESA’s mission? How would you plan to promote DEIJ in ESA membership and activities if elected?
ESA’s mission is to advance the science and practice of ecology while supporting ecologists in their careers. As VP for Finance, my goal is to provide the resources to foster a dynamic, diverse community of ecologists. We have work to do. Currently less than 16% of ESA members identify as people of color. I will invest funds in training the next generation of scholars, for example by reducing the costs of attendance at the annual meeting for early-career ecologists. I will also prioritize funding for new and existing ESA programs that serve communities of color and Indigenous communities that have often been excluded from the science and practice of ecology. While serving as Chair of the Biogeosciences Section, I was inspired by the wealth of expertise and ideas put forth by ESA members. I will champion the financing of bold, effective actions envisioned for example by the SEEDS program, Committee on Diversity, and DEIJ Task Force. Whether it’s professional development workshops, scholarships, or other new programming, I will secure the funds necessary to center DEIJ principles in our identity as a society.