Susan Allen

Professor - Environmental Toxicology, Environmental Technologies

Susan Allen

Susan Allen


Phone: 607-274-1066


Office: Center for Natural Sciences 253, Ithaca, NY 14850

Speciality: Environmental Toxicology


News Flash! 

Check Out Our New ICToxLab videos!

I was just awarded a $40,000 2-year grant from the Park Foundation to study the sources of microplastics in the southern portion of the Cayuga Lake watershed.  We will be sampling snow, sediment, tributaries and effluent from the wastewater treatment plant.


My primary area of research is environmental toxicology, which is the study of how pollutants affect ecological systems.  Although my Ph.D. research focused mainly on long-range transport of air pollutants into remote areas, I now do primarily locally-based research on pollutants.  Recently, my students and I have investigated: 

  • microplastics in southern Cayuga Lake - funded by the Park Foundation
  • pharmaceuticals and other emerging pollutants in the southern Cayuga Lake watershed - this is a large collaborative project with the Ithaca Areas Wastewater Treatment Facility, Cornell University, and the US Geological Survey
  • the effects of various pollutants on the swimming behavior of fathead minnows   
  • the effect of caffeine and carbamazepine on predator avoidance behaviors of fathead minnows
  • the accumulation of microbeads in the aquatic food chain and effects of mortality of Daphnia magna 
  • the effects of fexofenadine on the immune response of zebrafish embryos

You can learn more about these efforts through the following links:

Lab Alumni

Students who have worked in my lab have gone to graduate school (Masters and PhD) for Environmental Toxicology, Biogeochemistry, Environmental Engineering, Public Health, and more.  They have attended University of California -Berkeley, Michigan State University, John Hopkins University, Indiana University, and Oregon State University. Upon graduation, alumni are ready for employment in academia, consulting firms, and non-profit organizations.


I teach a variety of environmentally-related courses.  My favorite courses to teach are ones that have an international component.  I love teaching ENVS 204: Special Topics: Belize's Rainforests, Reefs and Ruins in the fall semester with a two-week trip in January.  You can read about the course from in the Ithacanor get a student's perspective in FUSE.  I also offer ENVS 380:Sustainability in the Amazon Basin that includes a trip into the Amazon basin of Ecuador.  You can download the report from our 2018 project in Tiinkias here.

I also love teaching upper- level electives such as ENVS 340: Topics in Pollution, in which we either examine the human health effects of pollutants or the effects of pollutants on ecological systems.  I often focus these courses on recent events or local issues.  I most recently developed courses in Environmental Technologies that delve into appropriate technologies for the developing world (ENVS 376) and cutting edge technologies for the developed world and the use of space to address environmental problems on earth (ENVS 476). 

Lastly, I often teach the environmental seminar for first-year majors.


I am very involved in promoting sustainability in education, at Ithaca College and beyond.  We published an article in Sustainability: The Journal of Record on Sustainability as an Academic Discipline.  I also led a NATO-sponsored workshop and co-edited a book on Addressing Global Environmental Security Through Innovative Educational Curricula. I also serve on the International Policy Advisory Committee. 

I am also involved in local environmental issues through my service to the Tompkins County Environmental Management Council, where I have been working on the Waste Reduction Subcommittee, which has recently been working to ban single-use plastic bags.


  • Ph.D., Oregon State University (1995)
  • M.E.M., Duke University (1989)
  • B.Sc., St. Lawrence University (1984)

I am often in my office - stop by or make an appointment!