John P. Allen

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John Allen

John Polk Allen (born May 6, 1929, Carnegie, Oklahoma)[1] is a systems ecologist, engineer, metallurgist, adventurer, and writer.[2] Allen is a proponent of the science of biospherics and a pioneer in sustainable co-evolutionary development. He is best known as the inventor and Director of Research of Biosphere 2, the world's largest laboratory of global ecology, and is also the founder of Synergia Ranch. Biosphere 2 set multiple records in closed ecological system work, including degree of sealing tightness, 100% waste and water recycle, and duration of human residence within a closed system (eight people for two years).

Early life[edit]

Allen studied anthropology and history at Northwestern, Stanford, and Oklahoma Universities, and served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a machinist. He graduated from Colorado School of Mines and later received an MBA with high distinction from the Harvard Business School.


In the early 1960s, Allen headed a metals team at Allegheny-Ludlum Steel Corporation which developed over thirty alloys to product status. Allen worked on regional development projects with David Lillienthal’s Development Resources Corporation in the United States, Iran, and the Ivory Coast, where he became an expert in complex regional development. In the mid-1960s, Allen and a group of associates attempted a solder flux company that failed. He has led multiple ecological expeditions, with a focus on the ecology of early civilizations, in Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tibet, Turkey, India, and the Altiplano.

Allen founded the first manned Biosphere Test Module experiment in September 1988, residing in the almost fully recyclable closed ecological system environment for three days, setting a world record for that time and proving that closed ecological systems could function with humans inside. Allen served as president of biospheric development and executive chairman for the project, and was responsible for the science and engineering that created the materially closed life system, as well as the development of spin-off technologies.

Allen currently serves as Chairman of the Institute of Ecotechnics, an international project development and management company with a biospheric design division engaged in designing and preparing to build the second generation of advanced materially closed biospheric systems and ecologically enriched biomic systems. In the EcoFrontiers Division, Allen owns and operates sustainable ecological projects of which he was co-founder and chief designer in France, Australia (5000-acre savannah regeneration project), Puerto Rico (1000-acre sustainable rainforest project), and England.

He is Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the Linnean Society, and the Explorers Club.

Allen has collaborated with Kathelin Gray on multiple artistic and ecological projects since the 1960s. They founded Theater of All Possibilities, an artistic practice network which operated from 1967-2009/2010, with Marie Harding, and subsequently formed a performance research initiative called Theatre for the Reconstitution of Reality (THEATRRR). Allen has chronicled his personal history, alongside the concurrent social history, in novels, poetry, short stories, and plays under the pen name Johnny Dolphin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Who's Who in America (63rd ed.). Marquis Who's Who. 2008. 
  2. ^ "John Polk Allen's Curriculum Vitae". Archived from the original on 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2016-03-13. 

External links[edit]