Alison Taylor

January 22, 2019

Alison Taylor’s passion for biology has taken her “across the pond” from the U.K. to the U.S., and coast to coast from Harvard to the University of California. Her goal is to help students become better scientists. Taylor, a professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology, enjoys helping students reach their potential.

“Our department and university are very student-centered, so even with the demands of maintaining an active research program, it’s very important that students are at the core of what we do,” said Taylor. “I especially enjoy the opportunity to share my passion for biology to demonstrate the application of fundamental scientific principles to the natural world around them.”
Prior to joining UNCW in January 2007, Taylor was a research fellow at the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom and conducted post-doctoral positions at Harvard and the University of California Davis. She pursued a career in academia because “it felt right.”
“Nothing else seemed to provide the challenge, the scope for creativity, the autonomy, the collaboration, the sheer thrill of curiosity-driven research, and the privilege of sharing that with young minds in the class and lab,” said Taylor, who holds a bronze (individual) and silver (representing Team England) medal in the 2003 Surf Kayaking World Championships in Ireland. She continues to surf and sea kayak as a hobby.
She became interested in organismal biology and environmental physiology during her undergraduate studies at the University of Leicester U.K. and volunteered for a year with physiologists working on marine model organisms. Eventually, she took a technician’s job in a neuroscience lab, where she could also enroll in a Ph.D. program in neurobiology at the Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom.
Today, Taylor’s research centers on understanding specific aspects of cell biology of specific groups of phytoplankton. “Our work is contributing to a core knowledge of these important organisms and how they may respond to future ocean conditions,” she said.
Taylor’s research encompasses several other aspects, she added, but one recent interdisciplinary collaboration is funded through a NOAA Marine Debris Program grant to investigate the fate of microplastics in the environment and specifically to assess how marine microplastics could be transferred to marine fishes.
Taylor said what has impressed her the most during her time at UNCW is just how much faculty and staff can do with limited resources.
“The added value of faculty, staff and student engagement, their extra time and willingness to be involved beyond their normal duties is extraordinary,” she said. “I hope that as the university grows, we can maintain those connections and relationships that are so important for promoting happy and productive academic units.”
--Venita Jenkins