Head Shot

Susan Allen

Professor, Environmental Studies and Science
School: School of Humanities and Sciences
Phone: 607-274-1066
Office: Center for Natural Sciences 253, Ithaca, NY 14850
Specialty: Environmental Toxicology

News Flashes! 

Park Foundation Grant! I was 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 are sampling snow, sediment, tributaries and effluent from the wastewater treatment plant.

USA Microplastics Tour 2023  Eplore my journey around the US!  I visited microplastic labs, skiing on my Ikon pass, visiting old friends and alums, and camping with Cayo!  You can access my blog here.

Check Out Our New ICToxLab videos!


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 the: 

  • effects of tire wear particles on daphnia and larval fathead minnows
  • presence of forever chemcials in Ithaca's drinking water, stormwater, wastewater and Cayuga Lake
  • 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
  • effects of various pollutants on the swimming behavior of fathead minnows   
  • effect of caffeine and carbamazepine on predator avoidance behaviors of fathead minnows
  • accumulation of microbeads in the aquatic food chain and effects of mortality of Daphnia magna 
  • 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.  I teach the required course, ENVS 292: Critical Skills for Envvironmental Professionals.  In this course, we function as a fictitious consulting company that is hired to carry out a number of projects, ranging from reintroducing endangered species, minimizing bird mortality on off-shore wind farms, creatign urban grardens in Brooklyn, and using eDNA to detect invasive species on the East Coast.

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 Ithacan, or get a student's perspective in FUSE

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 capstone environmental seminar for fourth-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!