Caitilyn Allen, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Caitilyn Allen was born in Germany and grew up in the American Midwest. She attended Swarthmore College and worked on an unprofitable organic vegetable farm before earning her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Virginia Tech University. Her doctoral research launched her long love affair with bacteria. She did postdoctoral research in Lyon, France, studying how plant pathogenic enterobacteria digest their plant hosts from the inside out. During her second postdoc at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Allen began working with bacterial wilt, a serious disease of many tropical crops that has commanded her interest and respect ever since. In 1992 she joined the UW-Madison faculty, where she currently holds a phytobacteriology professorship endowed by Ethyl and O.N. Allen (no relation). In 1995 she became the founding faculty director of the UW-Madison Women In Science and Engineering Residential Learning Community, better known as the WISE Dorm, to unite and support undergraduate women in STEM majors. This program, which has served over 5,000 students over 25 years, has been shown to increase retention to STEM major and decrease loneliness. She also served as Director of the UW Women Faculty Mentoring Program. Allen, who has taught courses in Plant Pathology, Microbiology, and Gender and Women’s Studies, has received multiple awards for her teaching. She has mentored over 40 graduate students and postdocs inn her lab to date, 28 of whom are women. She is a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.