Richard Allen, Ph.D.

RA Headshot
Professor • Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Strategic Planning
Behavioral/Cognitive Neuroscience

Mailing Address:
CU Denver College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Campus Box 144
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
1200 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Office Hours:
By Appointment

Expertise Areas:

Ph.D., Neurobiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1999
B.A., Psychology and Music, Syracuse University, 1993


Dr. Allen earned his Ph.D. in Neurobiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999 where his research focused on glutamatergic mechanisms underlying opioid tolerance. Through 2014, he led a research laboratory that used animal models of addiction (i.e., the drug self-administration procedure) to study mechanisms that underlie escalation of cocaine consumption, with funding (as PI and as co-I) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). He served as the research mentor to more than 25 students, 12 of whom completed honors or master’s theses under his direction, including six who subsequently earned Ph.D.’s in psychology, pharmacology, or neuroscience. He has received college-level awards for teaching, research, and service, and was the first recipient of the CU Denver Faculty Award for Outstanding Student Mentoring (2007). Dr. Allen’s current work focuses on issues in higher education and program development to support equity and student success. Dr. Allen has served as an Associate Dean since 2013 with portfolios that include Research and Creative Activities; Undergraduate Curriculum and Student Affairs; Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum; and (currently) Academic and Strategic Planning. Dr. Allen has served as the contact PD/PI for the CU Denver MARC U-STAR program for more than a decade (T34GM096958/T34GM149812), successfully developing and implementing the program and institutionalizing many aspects of the training model. Dr. Allen leads several change initiatives focused on building institutional capacity for inclusive excellence in science and equity in student success. Dr. Allen served as the Program Director for CU Denver’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence award (2017-2024) and as the Strategic Project Lead for CU Denver’s participation in the national Student Experience Project (2019-2022). Both projects have developed and implemented resources and engaged faculty in trainings that support the creation of inclusive and equitable learning environments.


T34GM149812, Allen (contact PI/PD), Flores (co-PI), 6/1/23 – 5/31/28, NIH/NIGMS, $1,358,127.00. MARC at the University of Colorado Denver (continuation of T34GM096958, 06/01/2013 – 05/31/2023, NIH/NIGMS, $2,205,840.00)
The goal of this grant is to provide intensive, interdisciplinary curricular and research training for undergraduate students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the behavioral and biomedical sciences, in preparation for doctoral degrees and careers in the behavioral and biomedical sciences.

T34GM096958-09S1 Allen, RM (contact PI/PD); Flores, SC (PI/PD) 06/01/2013 – 05/31/2023 NIH/NIGMS UC Denver MARC U*STAR Scholars Program Supplement
The goal of this supplement is to develop a culturally responsive wellness and resiliency program that seeks to understand the unique barriers impacting MARC scholars, the supports needed to address these barriers, and strengthening of skills necessary for self-advocacy.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Allen RM (Program Director), 09/01/2017 – 08/31/2022, $1,050,000.00 CU Denver Equity and Excellence in Science – an HHMI Inclusive Excellence Grant.
The goal of this award is to increase CU Denver’s capacity for inclusive excellence, beginning with a focus on student success in Biology. To achieve this goal, CU Denver will focus on identifying and removing the barriers that students face, offer faculty professional development around inclusive teaching practices, reform curricula, and develop a proactive and data-informed approach to student advising.

Association of Public Land Grant Universities / Raikes Foundation. Allen RM (PI/PD); Ferrara, M (Co-PI) 01/01/2019 – 6/30/2022. Student Experience Project: Designing Learning Environments to Advance Equity.
This contract with the Association of Public Land Grant Universities, funded by the Raikes Foundation, investigates how messages students receive on campus can create psychological barriers to student success, and how creating psychologically attuned messages can mitigate these barriers, particular for students from structurally disadvantaged groups.

Sample Publications

2015     Mandt BH, Copenhagen LI, Zahniser NR, Allen RM*.  Escalation of cocaine consumption in short and long access self-administration procedures.  Drug Alcohol Depen, 149: 166-172.

2015     Allen RM, Mandt BH, Jaskunas J, Hackley A, Shickedanz A, Bergkamp D.  Continuous exposure to dizocilpine facilitates the acquisition and escalation of cocaine consumption in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Drug Alcohol Depen, 147: 137-143.

2014     Allen RM.  Continuous exposure to dizocilpine facilitates escalation of cocaine consumption in male Sprague-Dawley rats.  Drug Alcohol Depen, 134: 38-43.

2013     Simmons DL, Mandt BH, Ng CMC, Richards TL, Yamamoto DJ, Zahniser NR, Allen RM*.  Low- and high-cocaine locomotor responding rats differ in reinstatement of cocaine seeking and striatal mGluR5 protein expression. Neuropharmacology, 75: 347-355.

2013     Yamamoto DJ, Nelson AM, Mandt BH, Larson GA, Rorabaugh JM, Ng CMC, Barcomb KM, Richards TL, Allen RM, Zahniser NR.  Rats classified as low or high cocaine locomotor responders: A unique model involving striatal dopamine transporters that predicts cocaine addiction-like behaviors. Neurosci Biobehav R, 37: 1738-1753.

PSYC 3222: Principles of Learning and Behavior
PSYC 3265: Drugs, Brain and Behavior