Toni Lefton

Allison Caster headshot

Teaching Associate Professor


Honors and Scholars House, B01
1704 Illinois Street

Allison Caster was born and raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where she still spends summers swimming, hiking, paddle-boarding, picking berries, writing, and reading in her hammock. She got her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of South Dakota (where she also studied vocal performance and bass clarinet – ask her about Carnegie Hall), followed by a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley and post-doctoral research in Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

In her research, she developed non-invasive, laser and X-ray based microscopy techniques for probing the chemistry of both natural and man-made structures, for example, to improve the production of smaller integrated circuits, or to identify and sort cancerous from non-cancerous cells in human blood. To spend more time with people and explore the ways we can make undergraduate education more enjoyable, applicable, and inspiring, Allison joined Mines as Chemistry Teaching Faculty in 2012 and became a part of Mines University Honors and Scholars Programs in 2019. She thrives on interdisciplinary investigations that bridge classroom and laboratory, and that embrace the intrinsically creative nature of science, engineering, and design. Her favorite activities are talking with students about big ideas, making tea, gardening, hiking, singing, dancing, watching movies, making art, reading, and playing video games with my teenage son.