Alison M. Shakarian, PhD, 51, of Tiverton, professor of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Salve Regina University, died at home Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

A 13th generation Portsmouth native and granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors, Dr. Shakarian graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1983, received a B.S. in Biology, Magna Cum Laude, from Salve Regina University, Newport, RI, in 1987, and earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology and immunology at the Medical College of Virginia-Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, in 1993. Also that year, Dr. Shakarian was presented with the Salve Regina University Alumni Achievement Award.

Dr. Shakarian was a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, Bethesda, MD, from 1993 to 1999, subsequently Dr. Shakarian became Assistant Professor of Biology at Salve Regina University (SRU); promoted to tenured and Associate Professor of Biology in 2004; and earned Full Professor status in 2012. In 2015, she was named Dean of Academics.

During her years as an educator, Dr. Shakarian participated in numerous civic, community, and professional organizations and activities, university committees, was an active research grant author and scientific publication author, reviewed text books and manuscripts, guest lectured, and actively conducted her scientific research with the tropical parasite Leishmania donovani.

Alison leaves her husband of 15 years, Mark A. Atkins, her sisters Pamela E. Shakarian and Laurie J. Shakarian, both of Portsmouth, aunt and uncle Mildred L. and Laurance F. Grinnell of Portsmouth, father-in-law, Dr. Ronald Atkins, sister-in-law Ronna Stefanopoulos, her husband Arthur, their children, Sofia, Athanasia and Christos, and her many dear cousins. Alison is preceded in death by her mother and father, Marion E. (Thomas) and Charles T. Shakarian, her aunts, Thelma L. (Thomas) Therrien, Gloria M. (Shakarian) Wise and her husband Raymond G. Wise, and Margaret R. Shakarian, and her grandparents, Mabel L. (Vaughn) and Henry E. Thomas, and Markrid (Najarian) and Bagdasar Shakarian.

Calling hours will be held on Friday, January 13, 2017, from 4:00-8:00PM in Connors Funeral Home, 55 West Main Road, Portsmouth.

A celebration of Alison’s life will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2017, at 11:00am in the Portsmouth United Methodist Church, 2732 East Main Road, Portsmouth. Burial will follow in Portsmouth Cemetery, Turnpike Ave, Portsmouth.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to Bell Restoration Fund, at Portsmouth United Methodist Church, 2732 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI, 02871 or American Cancer Society of Rhode Island, 931 Jefferson Blvd., Suite 3004, Warwick, RI 02886

This obituary originally appeared on, it has been republished with permission.

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