UAMS Researcher Named Diverse Emerging Scholar

By Lee Hogan

The truth is he savors it, which led him to be named an emerging scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

“When you’re talking about a scientist or researcher, if you don’t have a smile on your face when you’re discussing your research, you probably shouldn’t be doing it,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoy this.”’

Allen, an assistant professor in the Division of Radiation Health of the UAMS College of Pharmacy, is one of 12 emerging scholars recognized in the 2016 class. An emerging scholar is someone who has not yet had the opportunity to establish an extensive research record, but is in the process of building one.

Diverse has covered higher education for more than 30 years, providing news, information and commentary on issues concerning diversity. Its emerging scholars are selected for commitment to teaching and community service, scholarly awards, honors and academic accomplishments.

“Dr. Allen is a bright, spirited scientist that we are excited to have at UAMS,” said Keith M. Olsen, Pharm. D., dean of the College of Pharmacy. “This honor recognizes the tireless work his laboratory does to improve health care in Arkansas.”

Antino Allen UAMS

Allen with his research team (from left to right) Jing Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Thomas Groves, Julie Anderson, Tyler Alexander and Frederico Kiffer.

Allen, who came to UAMS in 2013, is one of several UAMS scientists to benefit from a National Science Foundation grant. The five-year, $20 million award was given to a consortium of Arkansas institutions to research and develop novel, functional surfaces produced using innovative materials and having nano-sized structures and features.

His laboratory is working to see which artificial structures best foster the growth of neurons.

“If we’re able to grow neurons on these structures, we can use them to help people overcome the cognitive and physical issues resulting from stroke, spinal cord injury and other central nervous system trauma,” said Allen. “Arkansas is No. 1 in strokes per capita and is high on the list of spinal cord injuries per capita as well, so being a leader in this area will be a benefit to many Arkansans.”

Allen graduated cum laude from Jackson State University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in biology. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from Indiana University in animal behavior and evolution, ecology and behavior, respectively.

He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco from 2010 to 2013. He was a captain in the U.S. Army and did two tours of duty from 2004 to 2006 and 2008 to 2010.

Allen is a member of the Radiation Research Society, Indiana Chapter of Sigma Xi, Center for the Integrated Study of Animal Behavior and Society for Neuroscience.

He’s the author of several peer-reviewed publications and presented at the Radiation Research Society’s annual meeting, in addition to having multiple posters displayed at the NASA Space Radiation Investigators’ Workshop.

Allen said he is thankful to be named an emerging scholar, but said it also highlights the graduate students and researchers who work alongside him on various research projects investigating brain trauma, including the effects of space radiation on cognition.

“A researcher is nothing without his lab workers and this lets me know I have a good group working with me,” said Allen. “As faculty, this assures me I’ve recruited the right people and that there are good scholars in Arkansas who can produce good work.”