Allison Luengen headshot

Allison Luengen

Associate Professor

Full-Time Faculty
Harney Science Center 418A


Allison Luengen received her MS in Marine Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). She then completed her PhD in Environmental Toxicology, also at UCSC. Following her PhD, she moved to the East Coast for postdoctoral research with Dr. Nicholas Fisher in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. As a postdoc, Professor Luengen worked with radioisotopes to look at how methylmercury bioavailability to phytoplankton was affected by dissolved organic matter.

Professor Luengen's research at USF focuses on the cycling and bioavailability of trace metals. She frequently works in the San Francisco Bay and Delta, an estuary where there are elevated concentrations of many metals, including mercury. Mercury, in the form of methylmercury, biomagnifies up food chains, reaching concentrations in fish that can be a million times higher than in the water. Professor Luengen is interested in how methylmercury is accumulated by organisms at the base of the marine food chain.  She is also interested in the transfer of mercury between different environmental compartments, including between marine and terrestrial environments. A major goal of her work is to understand metal accumulation in terms of water chemistry and mechanistic processes.

Research Areas

  • Ecotoxicology
  • Environmental exposure to heavy metals
  • Environmental justice
  • Health of urban wildlife
  • Mercury in San Francisco Bay


  • Visiting Researcher, University of Newcastle, Australia, Jan. 2024 – July 2024

  • Graduate Program Director, Masters of Science in Environmental Management, Jan. 2018 – Aug. 2020


  • PhD, Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • MS, Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz

Awards & Distinctions

  • University of San Francisco Distinguished Teaching Award, 2023

  • University of San Francisco Educational Effectiveness Award, 2021

  • USF Post-Sabbatical Merit Award with Honors, 2018

  • Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Best Paper of 2013 Third Runner-up, 2013

  • First Place, Delta Science Video Competition, for “Mercury in the San Francisco Bay.” 2012

Selected Publications

  • Laurin, J. T. and A. C. Luengen. 2019.  Assessment of the contribution of utility vault water to surface water pollution.  Environmental Monitoring and Assessment: 191:467.
  • Luengen A. C., Foslund H. M., Greenfield B. K. Decline in methylmercury in museum-preserved bivalves from San Francisco Bay, California. Science of the Total Environment 2016; 572: 782-793.
  • Luengen, A. C., N. S. Fisher, and B. A. Bergamaschi. 2012. Dissolved organic matter reduces algal accumulation of methylmercury. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 31: 1712-1719.
  • Luengen, A. C., and A. R. Flegal. 2009. Role of phytoplankton in mercury cycling in the San Francisco Bay estuary. Limnology and Oceanography 54: 23-40.
  • Luengen, A. C., P. T. Raimondi, and A. R. Flegal. 2007. Contrasting biogeochemistry of six trace metals during the rise and decay of a spring phytoplankton bloom in San Francisco Bay. Limnology and Oceanography 52: 1112-1130.