Dr. Heather K. (Asman) Allen
1980 - 2020
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Dr. Heather K. (Asman) Allen

Ames - Heather K. (Asman) Allen, 39, passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by family on Saturday, March 7, 2020 following a 9-year battle with cancer. Her favorite words were "glorious", "HUZZAH", and "shenanigans".

Heather was born October 24, 1980 in Des Moines and grew up in Earlham, IA. She attended Des Moines Roosevelt High School (class of 1999) and Central Academy in Des Moines. Heather married her high school sweetheart, Ian Allen, on December 22, 2000. Their marriage of 19 years produced two beautiful daughters, Azalea and Eleanor.

Heather attended the University of Iowa on a Presidential Scholarship, graduating with honors in 2002 with a BS in Microbiology. She received her PhD in Microbiology in 2009 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In January of 2011 Heather was appointed to a permanent scientist position at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames. In 2012 she became an adjunct Assistant Professor at Iowa State University. Her work significantly contributed to the scientific understanding of the effects of agricultural practices on foodborne pathogens and antibiotic resistance genes in food-producing animals, having positive impact on our food supply. Heather received numerous awards during her career and was considered an international expert in her field.

In 2019 Heather received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.

In 2010, four days before her 30th birthday, Heather was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. She chronicled her cancer journey in her blog: Some Girls Prefer Carnations. Her supporters are affectionately called Carnation Nation. An articulate, witty, insightful and candid writer, Heather's blog carnations.blogspot.com has over 400,000 views and was voted a "Best Breast Cancer Blog" in 2018 and 2019 by Healthline.com.

While Heather's scientific achievements were many, she is most remembered for the person that she was. She had a million-dollar smile, a contagious laugh and never met a stranger. She would visit with oncology department staff and visitors who were often intrigued by the blanket or hat or scarf she was crocheting while she waited - always to be given to someone else. She was kind, conscientious and optimistic. Confident, gracious and humble. Heather was a wonderful wife and mother, as well as a brilliant scientist. As one friend said, "she dazzled everyone". Heather was an avid reader, loved games, The Old 97's, baking and good conversation.

The family extends its gratitude to Heather's amazing medical team at the William Bliss Cancer Center at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames. Also, to her medical team at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa. Near the end of her life, the Mary Greeley Hospice Team was instrumental in keeping Heather comfortable in her home with her caring husband and daughters. Last but not least, the family extends heartfelt appreciation to Carnation Nation.

Heather adored her family. She is survived by her loving husband Ian; children Azalea (12) and Eleanor (10); parents Russ Asman (Barbara Scheetz) and Heidi Williams (Roger); Grandmother Barb Asman; twin sisters: Holly Gragert (Kyle) and Hilary Sawyers (Andrew); brother Ryan Asman (Anne); her special Aunt Jacque Shoeman (Rick) and Uncle Rod Asman (Lyddia), Uncle Tripp Erb; cousins Lauren and Max Asman, Anna and Brielle Shoeman, Alannah Erb; Mother-in-law Lori Allen, Father-in-law Terry Allen (Cheryl), Grandma Joyce Knudsen; Sisters-in-law Molly Allen and Mallary Allen; her adored nieces and nephews: Kael, Heath and June Sawyers, Calvin and Alice Gragert, Victor and Mica Allen; and many loving relatives and friends. Heather was preceded in death by her Grandparents Max Asman, Kate Erb, and Raymond Erb II; and her Aunt Raeanne Erb.

A Celebration of Life will take place later this year. Memorial Contributions may be made to Some Girls Prefer Carnations.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in the Des Moines Register from Mar. 19 to Mar. 22, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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July 10, 2020
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Jason Barclay
March 21, 2020
Heather was an amazing mom! No matter how she felt, she always had a smile for her girls! I am so sadden for your loss...
Karen Stein
March 21, 2020
My heart goes out to Heather's family and all who knew her. She will be missed.
Nan King
March 20, 2020
Heather was an amazing person with an enormous heart, I will never forget her! I feel very privileged to have been able to call her a friend.
Sam Humphrey
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