Advisor of the Year

  • Professor Lizabeth A. Allison
    Professor Lizabeth A. Allison
    "I offer friendship, practical advice for navigating GER and major requirements, the opportunity to talk about extracurricular activities, families, roommates, and life in general, and support and encouragement when the first semester turns out to be unexpectedly challenging."
"My own passion for life-long learning is always revitalized when I meet with my freshman advisees soon after their arrival on campus. Some arrive with their schedules planned in detail for the next four years and beyond, others arrive with dreams and ideas but the path is unclear. As an advisor I extend an offer for as much or as little advice as a student needs. I offer friendship, practical advice for navigating GER and major requirements, the opportunity to talk about extracurricular activities, families, roommates, and life in general, and support and encouragement when the first semester turns out to be unexpectedly challenging. Often, I share my own experiences as a student to illustrate that it is okay to arrive not really knowing what you want to do with your life. I started college intent on becoming an astrophysicist, then promptly changed my major either on paper or in my head at least a dozen times before I settled on biology. With creative writing, theatre, special education, mechanical engineering, and public relations in the interim, I had a marvelous liberal arts education and eventually found what proved to be long-lasting interests and a fulfilling career. The message I try to convey is to explore all opportunities, to get involved with all the College offers, but to always keep academics a priority.  "

Lizabeth A. Allison is the Hamilton Professor of Biology and Department Chair at the College of William & Mary, where she has taught for 12 years. Before coming to William & Mary, she spent eight years as a faculty member at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she received the Best Science Faculty Lecturer of the Year Award. At William & Mary she has received the Grace J. Blank Teaching Award in Biology, the Alumni Fellowship Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2009 SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award.

She is an internationally-recognized leader and scholar in the field of traffic control in cells. She is best known for her work on mechanisms regulating intracellular trafficking of the thyroid hormone receptor. The receptor is a regulatory protein that turns target genes on or off in response to thyroid hormone. Her work has consistently challenged current understanding in this field, overturning old ideas about the role of receptors in the cell and the mechanisms of gene regulation by thyroid hormone. Importantly, she has shown that disrupted traffic control in cells may contribute to the development of cancer. She has received over $2 million in research grants, has published her significant research findings in major scientific journals with undergraduates and graduate students as coauthors, and has made presentations on her research to audiences worldwide. Fundamental Molecular Biology, the college textbook she wrote, is widely used worldwide.

Her teaching portfolio includes courses such as “Molecular Genetics,” “Molecular Genetics Laboratory,” “Nuclear Structure and Gene Activity,” “Principles of Biology: Molecules, Cells, and Development,” and she contributes to the departmental “Introduction to Graduate Studies” course. In addition, she has launched an impressive number of undergraduate and graduate researchers into successful scientific careers.