Elected: 1968
Discipline: Organismal and Environmental Biology
Professor John Anthony Allen FRSE

Emeritus Professor, City, University of London; Former Honorary Fellow, University Marine Biological Station Millport

John Allen’s interest in marine biology began conventionally when as a child he discovered the marine life of rock pools during holidays on the east coast of England. Thereafter his eventual drive and enthusiasm to pursue a career in the subject defied convention as he developed into a leading world authority on life in the deep ocean.
At an early stage, despite initial enthusiasm for biology he would have preferred to follow his father as an engineer, changing in response to parental opposition and the influence of two exceptionally gifted natural sciences teachers at High Pavement Grammar School, Nottingham, where he undertook his secondary education from 1937 to 1943. After grammar school he was accepted to study for a degree in Biological Sciences at the University College of Nottingham in 1944, where he had a tantalizingly brief exposure to E J W. Barrington’s lectures on Embryology. However, at the end of his first year in university he was immediately called up for army service towards the end of World War II, initially serving in the Sherwood Forester Regiment. Very quickly after basic training he was then transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps, firstly in the pathology laboratory at Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, Millbank, and then as a Demonstrator in the Department of Hygiene at the Royal Army Medical College. He had by then gained considerable experience in medical biochemistry and parasitology. Even then his peripatetic lifestyle was in full flow and he was, for the last eighteen months of his military service, transferred to the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment at Porton Down. Read more about John Allen