Dr. McAllister graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Protection Engineering and in 2002 with a Master of Science Degree in Fire Protection Engineering. Her master's thesis research focused on fire phenomena in residential electrical wiring and connections. In 2010, she completed her Ph.D. in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Maryland, School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Her Ph.D. studies focused on the effects of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide on fire victims. Specifically, she studied the stability of cyanide in post-mortem specimens from fire victims and developed the first hydrogen cyanide inhalation model for use as a secondary tool in fire origin and cause determination.
Dr. McAllister is a licensed professional engineer and a NAFI and IAAI certified fire investigator. She became interested in fire science when she joined the volunteer fire service in 1995. Dr. McAllister still serves as a firefighter/EMT/Driver Operator at Morningside Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George’s County. With over 15 years of experience in the fire service, Dr. McAllister has specialized knowledge in the areas of fire extinguishment tactics, emergency medical services, fire apparatus and pumping, incident command and leadership, public safety, fire prevention, hazardous materials operations, vehicle and machinery extrication, and trench and structural collapse.
In the early part of her fire protection engineering career, Dr. McAllister worked as a fire protection design technician responsible for designing retrofit and new sprinkler and fire alarm systems and conducting life safety analyses in residential structures and commercial and government facilities, such as the Pentagon, United Stated Naval Academy, and Smithsonian Institute. Presently, Dr. McAllister is a full-time Principal Engineer and Toxicologist at CSE. Dr. McAllister’s expertise includes fire origin and cause investigation, fire victim toxicology and carbon monoxide poisonings, product failure analysis including specialized areas in electrical and combustion device failure, post-fire reconstruction, and building code review. Dr. McAllister has conducted hundreds of fire investigations and served as a consultant on a variety of litigation cases spanning a broad range of both criminal and civil cases involving residential, commercial, and industrial fires.