The M. James Allen Best Student Presentation Award was instituted in 2018 and is given to the student best exemplifying skills in preparing and delivering an oral presentation at the Annual SCAS Meeting. This award is named in honor of Dr. Jim Allen, a local expert in fish ecology, mentor to many, and long-time board member. Dr. Allen was always supportive of students, through his participation in SCAS, the American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists (AIFRB), as well as serving on many Master and Ph.D. student thesis committees. He served as head of the Fish Biology Department at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) and was lead scientist on the Southern California Regional Bight Survey Fish and Invertebrate Committee. Known as a “walking encyclopedia of fish”, his extensive publication record and willingness to give guest lectures for his many colleagues at local universities will never be forgotten.

Jim received his Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography where he developed a baseline model of the functional organization of soft-bottom fish communities in southern California. For over 40 years, Jim studied the natural history and ecology of marine fishes and invertebrates in the Southern California Bight. Jim specialized in marine fish ecology and natural history, including studies of biogeography, community organization, natural and human impacts to populations, feeding habits, taxonomy, contaminant levels in fishes, and fish consumption rates by anglers. He wrote life history descriptions of over 100 species of fishes and invertebrates for the West Coast of North America and had tremendous taxonomic expertise in the identification of most coastal marine fishes in the Southern California Bight.