Ralph AllenRalph Allen has written over one hundred (100) publications on lunar and meteoritic analysis, application of nuclear analytical techniques to archaeology, trace elements in cancer, radiation effects, analytical chemistry, forensic science and the impact of pollution on the environment. Awarded fellowships for research in Norway by Royal Norwegian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (1977) and Norwegian Marshall Fund (1983). Awarded Erikson Award by Federal Bureau of Investigation for service to the forensic science community. Allen has also served on the faculty for Facilities Institute of the Association of Physical Plant Administrators since 1984, and been a tour speaker for the American Chemical Society since 1984. He has served as a consultant for the International Atomic Energy Agency on radioactive waste disposal methods.
While the complete publication list indicates the diversity of research interests, it does not reflect the broad range of experience in teaching and service. In addition to teaching advanced courses in instrumental analytical techniques and in nuclear chemistry, Allen has introduced innovative teaching methods to courses that address the impact of pollution on human health and the environment. By bringing the staff of experts from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety into the Environment Health course that he teaches, the students have practical real world applications and problems to study. Cooperative learning, case studies and assessment methods are used to give students an active learning and team building experience. In addition to academic courses for University of Virginia students, the responsibilities as Director of Environmental Health and Safety have kept Allen active in the development and delivery of short training programs for all levels of staff, faculty, and students at the University. This has included programs meeting OSHA (Right to Know, Chemical Hygiene, emergency planning) and USNRC requirements. Each year, several thousand University personnel must be trained through these programs.
Training to comply with regulations is only one aspect of the University of Virginia’s Environmental Health and Safety Program. The guiding principles are for the staff to learn about pending regulatory programs and then find how and where they impact on the University. With a good understanding of the institutional needs (in research, teaching and health care) the office attempts to define and implement responses that support rather than deter the institution’s programs while providing regulatory compliance. Any number of cost effective and efficient programs have been implemented that provide greater awareness and positive support from the faculty and staff.
The practical experience gained in developing and managing the innovative health and safety programs for the University have been shared with other institutions. Through the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA), Allen has combined his experience as a teacher and manager of health and safety programs with the insight that has come from a close interaction with the University of Virginia Facilities Management organization. The courses Allen has taught for APPA’s Facilities Management Institute help provide insight and practical solutions to problems faced by all institutions of higher education. Allen, as an invited lecturer, has also presented this same type of positive assistance at APPA meetings as well as those presented by the American Chemical Society, National Association of Educational Buyers, and other national organizations. As a tour speaker for the American Chemical Society (ACS), Allen has not only presented seminars on his research but has been an advocate for the chemist’s responsibility to address issues of hazardous materials and to protect the environment. As the faculty liaison with the FBI’s Laboratory Division, Allen has not only taken an active role in helping law enforcement agencies develop programs for the safety of their laboratory personnel, but has been an active participant in numerous research projects as well. While Allen’s scientific expertise helps him better understand large and small scale environmental processes, his interest has been to find practical measures that can be used to find ways to conduct business while protecting human health and the environment.